So, being a woman, I do of course have an emotional outlook on business and life. Working in the automation and supply chain industry for several decades has also provided me with an interesting, experienced-based prospective on technology and people. Let’s delve into this a little more.
Our company sells software that works with wireless technology. It eliminates the need for humans to have to hand-key data into a system for inventory control, shipping, materials, operations, etc. This technology comes with a price tag but has definite returns. So the question is when can a human solve an operational problem and when can technology?
Here’s my take on this. You need humans to take leadership, create relationships, and produce. Technology should enhance their every day jobs. For instance, let’s talk warehouse personnel. You know the people in your warehouse that pick, pack, receive, move, and help ship your products. Not every business is a great candidate for full automation (you know… no humans touch anything), but continuing to throw additional employees or creating various shifts rather than utilizing a wireless solution is not always the best answer either. When I tour a facility, inevitably, someone believes that when implemented, our products may take away their jobs. However, it is absolutely surprising that the best warehouse workers, who care about their jobs and their work, “light up” when they know their company may put wireless technology into affect.
Now, wouldn’t it be terrific to take those workers, make them more efficient, pay them more and improve your bottom line? This is more than possible. A great employee is an asset … hard to find and equally hard to keep. What if you took a look at these employees, who understand your business, and provided technology to free up their manual processes then turned them loose onto something even better? The possibilities are endless.
To this day I believe companies skimp on customer service (yes, some automation is great but add people into that mixture and your sales will go up). I believe companies have to cut back paying exemplary warehouse workers because they have a full payroll of less than productive workers. As such, there should be a combination of technology and people and that should be evaluated by every manufacturer and distributor.