Robby the Robot

M.y. IT

Article date: April 16th, 2018

So...Automation in software

Like a ghost, it's been happening for the better part of 60 years, starting in the canning and auto manufacturing, moving into other industries. And yet, we easily overlook where else it's been occurring: offices.

Computers, despite their initial large sizes and redonkulous power requirements, have been an increasingly important aspect of all sectors of business, automating payroll, calculating taxes, handling communications... all of which used to require large amounts of people to accomplish. Sure, we still use people for data entry, copying information between the remaining software gaps, but sooner or later, we have to acknolwedge that those "gaps" are unecessary.
Take for example the frequent occurence of folks still needing to copy and paste between programs. Every day, multiple times a day (or some folks, all day). The "from" location and "to" location don't vary much, if at all. Yet many times humans are still manually doing this process at an abysmally slow rate, that wastes both their time, and the computer's electricity. Those gaps need to be filled.

Or take another example which I observed a few years ago... In one business, there was a practice of manually collecting client documents, scanning them individually into a folder, then manually copying that folder to another location once all the items are present. In that process pipeline, there are multiple opportunities for automation:

  1. scanner type --> Use a tray scanner that feeds documents automatically.
  2. polling --> Have process that checks receiving folder for number of files. (Perhaps include some intelligence about contents/type)

That's a very small example, but multiply it by several people, however many times a day, for however many days a year. For that particular client, more than once we received calls when these completed folders had been "lost" while being manually moved. This should highlight that any time humans need to be manually involved, there's room for error. To be clear, it's not carelessness. It's not intentional harm. Stuff just happens (i.e. "I was dragging it and my mouse slipped."... it happens). But the more that these tasks are automated away, the less risk a business faces from human error, and the more time that is freed up for people to focus on what humans do best:
Innovate, create human connections, and continue building your business.