Disadvantages Of Business Process Automation | 4 mins read

The Top Disadvantages of Business Process Automation

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Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

Disadvantages of Automating Business Processes

Since the early days of robotic process automation, there have been concerns that robots will take over the world and eventually replace humans. From Hollywood's first depiction of robot sentience in Metropolis to the modern-day Matrix trilogy, technophobia is a recurring theme. The biggest concern seems to be that humans will lose control of the machines they created. Moreover, humans will grow so reliant on automation that they will forget how to take care of themselves.

While some of these fears are unfounded, there is certainly a concern whenever workflow automation replaces a human. Since the Industrial Revolution, machines have transformed the way society operates. In the latter half of the 20th century, automation was no longer associated with just manufacturing and assembly lines. Digitization, computerization, and business intelligence are where the focus remains now.

Just like every other sector of society, the business world has been permanently altered by digital transformation and automation. Automation and high-tech software solutions have replaced time-consuming tasks and eliminated human error. Automation has saved organizations millions of dollars, streamlined business processes, and enhanced customer service. At the same time, this rapid change doesn't come without its downsides.

Read ahead for some of the top disadvantages of automating business processes.

1. Business Process Automation and Job Uncertainty

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In many sectors of the economy, automation and robotic process tools have indeed replaced human labor. The manufacturing industry has been especially affected, with over 7 million jobs lost since 1980. Moreover, experts believe that 57% of existing manufacturing jobs will be automated in the long term.

On the other hand, current factory workers no longer have to work as many hours due to mechanization. It is now much faster to process a typical order than it was 30 years ago. This will make sure to free up talent, optimize project management, and streamline business processes.

At the same time, displaced workers undergo emotional stress and may even need to relocate to find a new job. Some workers are pigeonholed by a specific skill that is no longer relevant due to automation. For example, data entry specialists are no longer sought after because much of that work can be performed by computers.

One positive is that automation has also created millions of new jobs. This number will continue to grow as there is a greater need to maintain and operate any new technologies that emerge.

  • Since 2000, 1.7 million jobs have been lost due to automation
  • 375 million jobs are expected to vanish by 2030 due to business process automation
  • Starting in 2020, automation will generate 2.3 million jobs
  • Robots could replace 40% of the world's jobs by 2040

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2. Business Process Automation and Initial Investment

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The initial investment into process management tools is expensive for many small businesses. A process automation system can cost millions of dollars to design, execute, and maintain. There is also more required maintenance than there is with a manually operated machine. Automating processes also comes with less flexibility, as computers are designed to perform a strict set of tasks.

Many businesses claim an automated business system is the most expensive operating cost among all other operating expenses. There are also the expenses associated with research into process discovery that ensures alignment with new automation tools. Furthermore, companies must undergo the time-consuming and resource-draining process of training all employees to use a new system.

Smaller organizations with less capital are stuck in a conundrum. If they don't invest in automation, it's much harder to maintain a competitive edge. At the same time, expenses to maintain and operate a high-tech software solution will cut into already razor-thin profit margins.

3. Business Process Automation and Versatility

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There is a reason why customers prefer to speak with an actual person when they have a question. Robots and automation tools don't understand nuance and complexities in the same way humans do. For example, Spell Check may mark a sentence or word as incorrect due to a set of specific rules embedded in its code. However, a person knows that the sentence is correct because of its implied meaning.

Chatbox and other customer service software systems are helpful but don't always know how to answer complex questions. If an automated business doesn't code a system to pick up on these nuances and complexities, there will be further problems. Organizations should allow machines to perform very simple tasks, and leave the complex ones to humans. This will improve the quality of customer service but still automate each meticulous and repetitive business process.

Key Takeaways of Business Process Automation

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In conclusion, here are the top disadvantages of business process automation -

  • Automating business tasks has saved time, money, and resources. It has also allowed millions of organizations a way to streamline repetitive tasks and maintain a competitive edge. At the same time, automation comes with its downsides. Each company must use a set of best practices to overcome any of these disadvantages.
  • Business process management causes worker displacement, particularly in the manufacturing industry. While automation also creates jobs, employees with a specific skill may be unable to adapt to these rapid real-time changes.
  • Process automation is expensive, especially for small businesses with minimal capital. Maintaining and executing business process management can cost millions of dollars per year.
  • Automated solutions are less versatile than humans. They don't always understand complexities and nuances, which can hurt the quality of customer service.

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Try it free for 14 days.

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