automation is the new black
“Automation” sounds so general and quite abstract – let me narrow it down a bit, by mentioning right from the start that in this article, I am referring to Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation. This is not just the newest IT trend or the ultimate key to success. This is my passion and my focus. Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation – shortly, automation.
Why do we care so much about automation?
It saves us time. It saves us human effort and resources. It elevates our lifestyle. We actually have already saved human lives using different types of automation. But how does it work?
We humans are creatures of habits. Therefore, most of our everyday lives is a chain of routines and automatic processes – like brushing our teeth or making our coffee in the morning. We use devices to simplify our lives – and we can program them, too. We can “tell” our slow cooker to have the meal ready by the time we get home from work and we can have the fridge message us the “grocery” list, so we’d know what to get from store.
When we have to perform the same task over and over again, we get comfortable doing it. It seems easier – it requires less conscious effort from our side. But because of that, we can get sloppy and make mistakes. Of course, one can definitely be focused and try to improve the process or the outcome, but more often than not, the task gets tedious, boring or simply not challenging enough. So we pay less attention. The task becomes more or less automatic.
Let’s break this automation process into steps
Of course, in the IT world, automation gets very specific – we have software testing or deployment processes to develop. But the main steps are the same:
- You have to identify the repetitive tasks
- You then identify their pattern
- You develop a piece of code to do those tasks
And that’s about it.
Coding vs communicating – the simplicity
I have always loved code because it is easy to understand. What you see is what you get – there is no hidden meaning in the code, it is all spelled out.
Human communication is the best counter example.
When we communicate, it’s not just about the dialogue. Our words represent only about 7% of the message. The rest is body language, voice tone, personal history, social cues, cultural differences and biases, etc. Human communication is complex – one has to master so many skills in order to understand what the other one is actually saying. And the tricky part is that it is never black and white.
Well, code is as close to black and white as you can get. It’s not subjective or moody. It does not change according to the reader. It creates a realm of clarity and simplicity – and that, too me, has always been fascinating.
But here comes the catch – why do we create products so counterintuitive? So difficult to utilize?
But nothing in this world is perfect. Since automation is created by people – they tend to replicate their tangled way of thinking into the code, as well. And all the simplicity and the clarity that once defined coding are starting to fade away.
We develop programming and scripting languages to make room for the lack of organization and lack of clarity from our processes and we use them as such.
Even though the most rational and most useful thing would be to organize the tasks and the patterns as to create a code that is simple – easy to understand and easy to use.
And not just because I say so.
I am sure you have tried to use tools to automate various processes. Maybe to create a standing order on your account, to take a personality test or to report a defect. Or perhaps to automate a repetitive manual task.
How did you find most of the available tools? I bet you had to go through a lot of reading material, and then having to understand how to use it, and of course, how to choose and tune the configuration. It’s safe to say that they were not user-friendly. And more likely than not, you’ve realised that it is easier to just repeat the manual task – or at least, more time efficient.
So much for switching from manual to automatic.
Automation’s outcome can and should be a walk in the park for the consumer
Automation is supposed to replace your work – to save you time and effort and resources, so you could use those to do more creative tasks. Not to replace the manual task with a lot of useless work to make the automation functional.
Like I said, I am passionate about coding and automation – one that works properly. I highly value the principles behind it.
And I believe we can benefit a lot from applying them. We could be better not just at doing our job, we can thrive in so many areas of our lives. We can achieve more as individuals and as a team if we focus on having clear, organized processes and a better workflow. I understand that this is a lot of work – it does take some effort, but I am sure it is worth it.