Tech enthusiasts and business giants alike are looking towards automation to modernize whole sectors. But which industries could see the biggest changes due to automation?
Retail is seeing a rise in ways it could be improved through automation. For example, the Amazon Go stores enable you to conduct a food shop by placing items in your basket and then having the total automatically deducted from your Amazon account. This is being trialed to see if it’s a service people would use, eliminating the need for checkouts. Online shopping is also on the rise and as the UK-based online shopping delivery company, Ocado has shown, using automated bots to collect the shopping and then bag it could help save time and money.
However, bots alone in a warehouse is a cautionary tale, as one example in the UK saw a robot-induced fire tear through the warehouse in April 2019, with the bots completely unaware and no-one there to raise the alarm. £215 million in losses were reported because of the fire. So, perhaps a combination of automation and human oversight could prevent further issues.
The hospitality sector has seen a gradual change – led partly by companies such as McDonald’s, who introduced touchscreen ordering facilities, removing the need to queue as much. More and more hospitality companies are delegating their booking and ordering processes to automated systems. Mobile apps can be used to book tables and place orders at restaurants, while check-in can be done online for some hotels, which helps speeds the process up for the customer and the employee.
For example, in China, guests at hotels can check-in with facial recognition software. While some Marriott hotels already have a service that offers voice-search functions in the room to do things like asking for recommendations on where to go and order items from the hotel, such as towels. Moreover, online food ordering companies such as Deliveroo and UberEATS mean that restaurant orders and deliveries can be conducted through automated processes. This helps remove the human error that might be seen through mishearing an address or food order. While there are issues with this, many people seem to enjoy the streamlined way of interacting with hospitality.
The fintech sector has many new developments – one of which is the expected benefit from a further degree of automation. This could help streamline existing services and use the machine learning functionality to do in seconds what it might take humans to do in days. McKinsey suggests that around 40% of banking tasks – such as managing revenue and disbursing cash – could be automated. It is anticipated that this will lead to more interesting jobs as the time-consuming jobs will be streamlined with automation.
Automation will also have a significant impact on forex trading. For instance, automated forex trading robots can backtest the formula they use with historical market data to see how accurate the formulas are. As such, this can help craft a strategy for trading using historical analysis mapped onto future market possibilities. This may lead to those who haven’t yet begun their trading journey to have a better set of guidelines to work within initially, which will help them grasp the complexities of the industry.
Moreover, banks are increasingly using machine programming to determine risks when it comes to credit cards and loans. Typical credit scores are ineffectual and being able to analyze a lot of data and model it to future scenarios will help banks ascertain the risk of each loan or credit card customer. Furthermore, a joint model of human and automated services can help bring down the cost of financial advisory services, which is usually expensive. By allowing automation to do a lot of the legwork and then using a human operative to ensure everything is correct, the process will be cheaper.
But Will Robots Steal Our Jobs?
Academics at Oxford suggest that half of the US workforce could have their jobs automated, while other estimates suggest that between 75 and 375 million people will need new skills. Automating certain jobs – such as responding to live chat customer service queries – doesn’t necessarily replace a human job but works in tandem with it to deliver a better service.
For example, the live chat would be programmed to answer certain issues such as opening times, contact information, or making bookings. This frees up time for human customer service operatives, who will then have a greater capacity to deal with issues that bots can’t handle. While some lower-level jobs may be replaced by automation, this just frees up resources to focus on creating more meaningful jobs and developing areas of the business that can’t possibly be automated, such as idea generation.
Technological changes are often only noticed when you look back and realize how far you’ve come. With automation, that is the case. Gradually, parts of processes and systems were replaced and streamlined through automation. The retail, hospitality, and finance sectors all show ways in which automation is beginning to help these processes, and ways in which it could further save time, money, and effort to free people up for more important jobs.