Thanks to advances in technology, there is a constant drive towards the automation of processes within businesses. From running the monthly payroll to producing reports for customers, there is usually a process that can be automated by a system. Managers are focusing on doing more with less in this constant drive towards increased business efficiency.
However, too much automation can actually lead to a dead end in terms of increased productivity. Removing people from the day-to-day production of goods and services removes the one facet that machines cannot (yet) replace: the ability to innovate.
Innovation is driven by human interaction with, and frustration with, the existing process for creating a useful good or service. Automating a process reduces this interaction and limits the extent to which improvements can be identified.
Companies with automation initiatives therefore have to take extra steps to ensure that the creative involvement of humans stays high in every one of their business and production processes. Feedback loops must be built and nurtured. Management must foster active process observations and seek constructive criticism.
If your business is highly automated, you should assign a small group of people to focus on productivity improvements. For example, they should try and identify any gaps in your processes, and seek feedback from other employees. Your customers are also equipped to tell you where you can improve on your product or service quality, efficiency etc.
Make sure that this information is fed back into a continuous improvement process. The idea is to innovate and create better solutions, as well as to make the better use of technology.