My current organisation, along with almost every large company in Australia, has embarked on a huge digitisation and automation program, and in turn reducing labour across the business by as much as a quarter. So what the hell then is digitisation and automation?
Essentially process improvement by a fancier name. Earnst & Young have a great paper on it, which makes me think that E&Y, KPMG and the like just dreamt it up, branded is with something new and whacked the concept out to the market. It’s like spruiking the best private fire brigade in the business whilst your subsidiary offers discount Molotov cocktails.
Digitisation is the natural progression of everything technology: the only people that fill out forms any more are the people that want the product i.e. you and me. Great examples of digitisation are things such as barcodes that enable you to scan almost anything and it will tell you all the vital details. No more looking things up on a database, it’s all done for you. Another would be paying by credit card instead of using actual money – why carry around all those notes and spare coins when one card does it all? When you think about it, it’s everywhere.
The human only needs to deal with the crap that can’t be met with the business rules, which they’re trying to automate to reduce the amount of work that person has to do. A prime example would be driving, which up until about ten years ago was pure fancy. And yet! Accidents on the roads caused by humans means huge slow-downs in productivity (kinematic wave equations for traffic illustrate those magic traffic jams for no reason whatsoever), yet if all cars are talking to one another, they could all go at the maximum speed limits. In the corporate world it’s generally the automation of moving data from one system to another, especially if the company is large and old.
So there you go, down with the human, long live the technology! No humans mean no labour costs, no sick pay, no pension plan, no weekend rates and no one getting pregnant. An employer’s dream! And that’s where the universal minimum wage comes in. Maybe. But it will all be down to the individual and whether as humans we cock the entire thing up or we march towards progress making our lives less burdensome, enabling us to take up more activities to waste time. Whilst I would welcome the automated car (I could get some reading done, how wonderful), I have a friend that has spent hundreds of dollars automating the lights in the house. I’ll keep the switch for now, putting my book made of paper down and get off my ever increasing wobbly-bottom to turn it on. But progress is coming, look out behind you!
Writing and writing...