October 10, 2023
3 min
to read

The Human Touch in Process Automation: Striking the Right Balance

Sean Gardner
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If you've ever reflected on the role of humans in a world where artificial intelligence and process automation reign supreme, you're not alone. As a university student in today's age, I often find myself worrying about what role humans will play as artificial intelligence and process automation continues to improve at an unprecedented rate. My peers and I are often concerned about potential job displacement in the world of business, as companies continually evolve by integrating AI to enhance efficiency and reduce expenses. Given this, a crucial question remains on our mind: Will automation eventually replace us?

The Rise of Automation & the Fear of Replacement:

We've witnessed groundbreaking innovations in AI and automation recently, from chatbots managing customer queries, to robotic process automation (RPA) significantly reducing mundane tasks. Companies are embracing these tools to realize cost savings and efficiencies, with global spending on AI technologies skyrocketing by over 108% in the past 5 years. While automation undeniably offers companies various advantages, it also casts a cloud of doubt over the job prospects for young professionals.

The Power of Human Expertise:

Despite the numerous capabilities that AI and RPA offer to businesses, the human touch is almost always necessary for optimal performance. These tools excel in repetitive tasks but lack crucial skills like creativity, decision-making, and ethics. My own experiences using ChatGPT have shown that AI is only as effective as the person utilizing it. Without the right prompts or questions, you won't get the answers you seek. This principle applies to all AI tools; the human touch is vital.

Striking the Right Balance:

So, how can businesses strike the right balance between automation and the human touch? Here are some strategies:

Identify Complementary Roles:

Recognize where automation can enhance human capabilities rather than replace them. Using AI for tasks like data analysis or data entry can reduce the workload of employees and better inform human decision-making, which benefits both the company and employees by letting workers focus on what's truly important.

Foster Collaboration:

Promoting collaboration between humans and machines allows for synergy that enhances processes while supporting human creativity and innovation, with process automation allowing us to accomplish more meaningful work throughout the day than ever before.

Invest in Upskilling:

By encouraging employees to develop new skills, businesses can support their workforce to utilize process automation tools more effectively and create a work environment that fosters innovation and insightful decision-making.

Prioritize Customer-Centric Approach:

In customer roles, the human touch is crucial. While chatbots can handle basic inquiries, human representatives are needed for complex and emotional interactions.

Conclusion:

The relationship between automation and human expertise is not a zero-sum game. Automation can reduce costs, increase productivity, and reduce errors, but it can never replace the value humans bring to the workplace in terms of unique skills, creativity, empathy, and innovative ideas. By utilizing automation technology to complement human expertise rather than replace it, businesses can strike the right balance between automation tools and the value of the human touch.

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