Automation Innovation

What happens if we examine the automation of activities instead of occupations? For example, let’s look at the role of a marketing manager or executive in a consumer products company. Typical marketing managers are charged with driving sales through tailoring strategies for specific products and markets, and are thus usually well-educated and compensated. This role involves many time-consuming activities, such as reviewing and analyzing data, that can be automated with current technology and completed faster and more accurately than a human ever could. Furthermore, automated technology has brought us computers that can, through big data analytics and artificial intelligence, create offers and content that are tailored to appeal to thousands of individual consumers – not even the greatest marketing manager could achieve this as quickly.
According to the great management consulting company McKinsey, current estimates show that approximately 10-15% of a marketing executive’s time can be achieved by current automation technology. This poses an interesting and challenging question: how can the newfound free time be used most effectively? Automation delivers returns in two ways: of course, the machine performing the work rather than labor, and the free time that employees can now dedicate to other activities. Marketing executives, in this case, will have more time to work on more product ideas, cross-functional work, developing new strategies, or supervising his or her direct reports.
McKinsey also found from studying 2,000 various activities that, from a technical standpoint, approximately 45% of employee time can be automated. However, less than 5% of jobs can be fully automated (as in replacing the employee with a machine altogether). For 60% of existing jobs in the US, 30% or more of current activities can be automated. This represents a day and a half’s worth of activities that can be automated with available and upcoming technologies.
So, with the automation technologies available and that are expected to be developed, roles can be redesigned to perform more efficiently. Likewise, companies will have to understand the areas where machines can work better, where humans are superior, and how to improve processes to maximize both resources. Top-performing organizations leverage information technology to determine how machines can enhance and transform processes, rather than simply automating activities. These companies have become more efficient and innovative, ultimately contributing to bottom-line revenue.

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