New technology, like AI and big data analysis, is driving a revolution in automation across the economy.
Businesses in some of the biggest industries are experimenting with new technology that has allowed them to streamline business processes and automate new kinds of work.
This is the impact that automation is having on six of the most valuable industries.
The past few years have been extremely eventful for the ecommerce industry. Now, many businesses find it challenging to keep up with their own success.
Automation in ecommerce can help businesses manage the growing pains that have come with the industry’s rapid expansion.
Ecommerce automation tools help business owners and staff handle many of the repetitive tasks necessary in maintaining an online business. For example, one business may use several automation platforms to manage email marketing, inventory tracking and social media content creation.
Together, these tools work together to reduce some of the administrative workload that ecommerce businesses are dealing with right now.
2. Automobile Manufacturing
The automotive industry has long been a proving ground for new automation technology. In the industry, automation helps to streamline repetitive tasks like welding, assembling and material handling.
Right now, Industry 4.0 technology — including artificial intelligence and the internet of things — are helping to create new opportunities for automation.
For example, AI-powered “machine vision” is helping automakers speed up quality assurance practices.
At the same time, automation is also becoming more important to cars themselves. Autonomous vehicles and automated car features are a major auto industry trend, with both major automakers and startups investing heavily in smart car technology.
Market researchers expect more than one million autonomous vehicles to be on the road by 2025, and 30 million by 2035.
3. Energy and Utilities
The energy industry faces a number of major challenges — like the shift to renewable energy and aging grid infrastructure in desperate need of upgrades.
For energy industry businesses, automation mostly helps to streamline administrative work or improve business analysis. Automated IT tools make it much easier to forecast prices, securely transfer files or audit business processes.
The automation of IT is also playing an important role in the expansion of green energy. For example, Statkraft, Europe’s largest renewable energy producer, uses IT automation to “collect and compile data to model the impact weather may have on renewable energy sources.”
Along with other analytic tools, these weather models help Statkraft anticipate changes in energy demand and pricing.
With better data and improved administrative processes, energy industry leaders can make more informed decisions about the future of the industry and the needs of their customers.
There is a global need for new housing, new commercial real estate and upgrades to existing buildings. The construction industry isn’t always quick to adopt new technology, but there are signs that automation is already helping construction companies to build better structures faster.
The construction industry uses automation in three major ways. The first is to automate on-site work, like brick-laying and material handling, with robots and autonomous construction equipment. These machines can make on-site work both faster and safer for human workers.
The second is to automate work off-site, using technology like 3D printers to automate the construction of building components or even entire structures.
Using these technologies can speed up the construction process for a new building — and because they reduce waste in the construction process, they may even make the construction industry much more sustainable.
The third is the automation of building design and management. Construction companies and building owners are using building information modeling (BIM) tools to make building design more efficient and simplify the maintenance of building systems, like HVAC and plumbing.
5. Information Technology
Almost every business needs a strong IT department to help them take advantage of new technology opportunities and defend against cyber threats like ransomware or phishing attacks.
Like many other industries, however, the IT industry as a whole is struggling with a labor shortage that makes it hard for IT professionals and companies to meet businesses’ technology needs.
For IT professionals, automation is a tool that can allow one worker to accomplish much more work than what they’d normally be able to do on their own.
With the right software, IT workers can create tools and algorithms that streamline their workflows — or make human interaction with certain IT systems unnecessary.
For example, an IT team may automate file transfers, cloud backups, security scans, software updates or invoice generation. In many cases, IT automation can both simplify IT work while also improving administrative processes across a business.
6. Financial Services
For financial services, automation is helping to speed up administrative work and make financial analysis both easier and more accurate.
Financial services companies that adopt automation are primarily using robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent automation or intelligent data extraction.
RPA is an automation approach that uses simple software robots to automate business tasks like organizing files, creating back-ups and managing email.
Intelligent automation and data extraction are somewhat more high-tech. Both technologies use AI in slightly different ways. Intelligent automation is like RPA, but uses artificial intelligence to automate tasks that normally can’t be automated by simple software robots.
Intelligent data extraction is all about using AI to extract insights and analysis from large, unstructured data sets.
How Automation Is Transforming the Global Economy
Across industries, automation helps to make work faster and more efficient. New tools like 3D printing, autonomous equipment and intelligent process automation can help perform a wide variety of tasks, from constructing a building to analyzing financial data.
In the near future, advanced automation technology is likely to become even more sophisticated and accessible — potentially increasing adoption and making new use-cases possible.
Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.