In recent decades, technology is rapidly changing the efficiency and effectiveness of the modern worker. Tasks that once required dozens of workers can now be completed by a single person. This increase in productivity is a result of developments in the automation space. In this article, we’re going to cover the difference between automation and artificial intelligence (AI), the benefits of automation in the office, and key strategies to optimize your time management.
What is the Difference Between Automation and AI?
Automation is a tool that allows repetitive tasks to be performed automatically when certain criteria are met. An out-of-office response is a great example of automation. With your out-of-office turned on, an email program will automatically respond each time an email is received with a pre-written message. With automation, the response or action is typically pre-determined by a human.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is more complex and relies on a series of algorithms to analyze a situation and make decisions on how to proceed. Self-driving cars meet the definition of AI as the computer systems and sensors simultaneously calculate road conditions, read street signs, and spot hazards before determining the safest route. All of these decisions happen without input from a human operator making it perfect for non-routine tasks.
Benefits of Leveraging Automation
Higher Productivity - Using automation is like hiring a bunch of invisible workers to quickly complete hundreds of tasks. This allows companies to operate with fewer human workers which save money. For the individual employee, higher levels of productivity can help reduce the stress of heavy workloads.
Better Time Management - According to one survey, nearly three-fourths of IT leaders agreed that employees can save between 10% to 50% of their time on manual tasks by using automation. Automation allows you to focus your energy and attention on more important tasks. Plus, with better time management, employees can enjoy a better work-life balance.
Reduced Human Error - One of the great things about computers is that they can reliably perform the same activity over and over with the same results. Tasks like data entry are prone to human error which makes automation a perfect replacement for these types of activities.
Strategies for Using Automation in the Office Environment
If you’re looking to automate your workday, there are lots of great tools and methods available. Here are four key strategies to identify and automate your tasks around the office.
Identify Repetitive Tasks - Make a quick list of tasks that you perform on a regular basis. These should be tasks that are simple, but tedious. Next to each task on your list, make a note of how much time you spend on the tasks in an average week. The ones that take the most amount of time are your greatest opportunities. Focus on those first.
Review Your Existing Technology - It’s highly likely that you already have programs and tools at your disposal that have built-in automation features. Google will be your greatest ally here. Simply search for “How to automate (insert program name)”. You’ll likely find a wide range of articles and resources to get you started.
Learn New Skills - Some programs and tools will require you to learn new technical skills. For example, if you frequently use Microsoft Excel, learning new formulas can make a huge difference in your ability to streamline or automate your work. YouTube and LinkedIn Learning are excellent sources for finding easy-to-understand instructional content.
Deploy New Tools - In some cases, you may need to find a new tool or technology to automate a specific task. Be sure to evaluate the cost, features, compatibility, and online reviews before committing to a technology solution.
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