2021 Trend Almanac: Technologies and trends that will dominate the business and consumer landscape. Get instant access
Automation is the process of combining technologies to speed up production and deliver finished goods without requiring extensive human intervention. Automation techniques are used to improve efficiency, speed, safety, and reliability for repetitive tasks. Automation solutions are commonly used across many sectors, including transportation, manufacturing, information technology (IT), cybersecurity, and utilities.
Within a factory setting, automation is commonly used for assembly as part of manufacturing processes. Factory automation typically involves robots that perform repetitive tasks at a high rate of speed. Control systems oftentimes require human monitoring, but there generally isn’t a need for direct intervention to complete tasks. The automation process allows machines to transform parts or raw materials into finished goods at a faster pace than human workers, thereby saving time and expense.
As part of IT, automation is utilized across a variety of offerings. When used during a development process, automated testing and reporting can increase the speed of delivery for the finished product. Engineers designate what needs to be tested when setting up the program, but the tests themselves can run without the need for human intervention, and reports can automatically be generated for later review. Automation technologies are also frequently used as part of network and data security, as checks can be automated to look for any signs of intrusion or inappropriate access. This helps ensure that companies are protecting their digital assets to the best of their ability.
Automation is also being utilized in traditional business settings, such as marketing, sales, and across workflows, which is referred to as business process automation (BPA). BPA often utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning as part of their automation process. Typically, this will mean that automation is used to collect and analyze data that is relevant to a variety of tasks, such as sales reports or marketing analysis. This data is frequently used as part of research and development around new products and services. BPA is also utilized to share data and information automatically across teams, so there is no need for teams to wait around to receive data, as they can get it as soon as it is generated. Using automation in combination with artificial intelligence can improve efficiency, lower costs, and highlight actionable insight across business lines.
The business benefits of using automation include: