Published 17 January 2018

by Johan Almlöf
Expert in Service Design

3 things you need to understand about automation

The media is overflowing with news about how artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will put us all out of a job (travel industry included!). Or bring about a terminator-style apocalypse. But, robots and automation have been with us for many years. Here are three facts that I hope will help you use automation with more purpose – and less fear.

Automation has been impacting our jobs for a long time already

The first elevators needed a conductor. Today we do not think twice about entering an elevator, pressing a button and locking ourselves up in a metal box suspended by metal wires travelling at 35 km per hour.

Another area that has been transformed through automation is agriculture. A hundred years ago, almost 80% of the population in most European countries and the US was involved in agriculture. Today that figure is as low as 2% according to the World Bank. As tasks disappear from the farm, new industries supporting modern agriculture have sprung up creating thousands of new jobs.

Don’t think about automating jobs, think about automating tasks – the tedious ones!

Management consultancy firm McKinsey has conducted an extensive study on automation and its impact on the workplace. A key conclusion is that automation will not eliminate occupations or jobs but automate tasks and activities. This will free up time to focus on other, more creative activities.

McKinsey found that just 4% of work activities today require creativity. There is great potential to invest more time in innovation, a skill of great value as shown by Toyota in my third point below.

So you will most likely have the same job tomorrow… but hopefully the boring stuff will be automated!

Machines automate. Humans innovate … if they are encouraged and motivated

Robots and automation solutions are good at one thing: performing the task faster and cheaper than a human. But, the robot will tell you very little about how to change and innovate the task.

Japanese firm Toyota Motors is the largest car manufacturer in the world. Recently, Toyota replaced some of its robots with people. In a super-competitive environment, this may seem counterproductive. However, Toyota is betting on two benefits:

  1. By making sure the worker truly understands the work they are doing, they will know how to do the tasks if a robot breaks down. This means the company will not be left stranded.
  2. Workers will innovate and find new and even smarter ways of doing the task.

Toyota wants workers that can continue to innovate ways of working and invent new solutions. One such team reduced material usage by 10%. So, to conclude: we still need people! A machine cannot innovate and improve your workplace – but you and your colleagues can.

So what can you do now?

1)   Continue to automate. Your competitors are doing it thus lowering their costs and increasing their speed. Lean more about how our automation solutions for travel agencies can help you do this too.

2)   Nurture a deep understanding of the key processes in your business, identify key skills and document your work. As you automate, it is very important to remain the master of your own business so that you do not become wholly dependent on automation. We can help you identify your key processes and systems and help you gain the necessary insights. Contact your account manager if you’re interested in this.

3)   Learn new ways of working. Automation helps you keep up with competition, learning helps you leap ahead. Learning needs support and encouragement, and resources to happen in order to lead to innovation. If you want to know more about how we got this“idea-and innovation”-ball rolling at Amadeus Scandinavia, please drop me a line.

 

About the author

Johan Almlöf joined Amadeus 2013 from the ICT industry. He is an engineer that is more intrigued about how technology is used rather than how it is developed. He has dedicated his career to help organizations evolve their services and drive change in order to delight and surprise their customers.

Connect with Johan on LinkedIn!