Why you should care about how computers help solve problems
Computers help us to solve problems, big and small. For most of us, that’s about all all we need to know. But, if you’re a business owner, it’s important to know how computers help to solve problems. Why? Because knowing lets us 1) prioritize solutions 2) increase profits 3) assign resources and 4) maximize expertise.
Augmentation and automation
These days, we hear a lot about automation and it’s big brother, AI (artificial intelligence), but we don’t hear a lot about augmentation. That’s a shame, because augmentation is the most accessible of the three and, therefore, the one that generally impacts us the most.
Let’s take a moment to break down what augmentation and automation are. Afterwards, we’ll review what to do with them.
You need to take your medication, but you’re having trouble reading the label because the text is tiny.
After weighing potential solutions, you decide to use the zoom feature on your iPhone’s camera. So, you pull out your phone, zoom in with your camera, and presto! you’re able to easily read the tiny print.
Another problem solved using technology augmentation.
So, what makes the above scenario an example of augmentation? The core component of augmentation is that no action is taken without you.
In the scenario above, there is no mention as to why you need to read the label. The information on the label and what that means for your next step is irrelevant. Augmentation helps you to gather the information or perform an action better; all decisions, intelligence, and actions are for you to control.
Other types of augmentation
Technology augmentation is used to solve problems every day. A few examples of technology augmentation are:
- converting speech to text
- to check your spelling
- monitor your heart rate
You need to take your medication, but you aren’t sure what medication to take, when, or how often. Too many medications have similar names and some you don’t take every day.
After thinking about the problem, you conclude that what you really need is an intelligent pill dispenser. So, you buy one. The dispenser knows what medication to provide you, how much, and with what frequency; all you’d have to do is take the medication.
Another problem solved using technology automation.
So, what makes the above scenario an example of automation? The core component of automation is that an action or action(s) are taken without you.
In the scenario above, there is confusion about what to do with the information on the label. Since the names are similar and the schedules variable, the problem automation is being asked to solve is, in essence, ‘What action should I take?’ Successful automation determines the answer for you.
Other types of automation
Technology automation is frequently employed by companies to solve repetitive problems. A few examples of technology augmentation are:
- shipment notifications
- routing telephone calls
- preventing unauthorized access to files
Priorities and profits
How does knowing about augmentation and automation help us to prioritize and profit from tech projects? The key is in how it helps us to identify priorities; profits come later.
Often times, people get fixated on solving a problem using either augmentation or automation. One reason is perspective. A staff member has the most control over the things they do. Therefore, technology augmentation is what they’ll tend to recommend. Whereas, when a manager wants to improve things, they think organizationally and, therefore, lean toward automation.
You have to employ both augmentation and automation to maximize your reward.
Augmentation projects can be a cheap way to improve efficiency for select tasks, but they also help identify where automation should be used. Whenever you find that many people would benefit from the same technology, it’s likely that automation can make it even better.
Of course, automation projects usually come at the expense of short-term gains. After all, it’s faster and cheaper to give a few better tools than to deploy automation across an organization. When automation requires in-depth and specific knowledge, augmenting select staff is likely to be more profitable in the short term.
Practice makes perfect
You’re going to need some practice to see the world in terms of augmentation and automation. The good news is that we’re here to help. You can reach us by phone or email. If you’re an existing client, this is one of the primary features of your Account Manager. Three times a year they review your goals and report on information collected by your staff on ways to make the firm better.