Everything that can be automated will be

Leadership Nov 25, 2019

I'm currently reading Epiphany Z by Thomas Frey again. It's one of my most favorite books about the future, and it is full of wisdom that you can apply today.

There is a quote in the chapter about the work of the future that always sticks in my head when I'm speaking with clients and look for opportunities in their market:

Everything that can be automated will be.
Thomas Frey, Epiphany Z

This quote implies so many things that I have to write about it.

It is an opportunity

Automation solves mainly two things: A process where no human needs to do something becomes faster, and it runs 24/7. Robots and software don't become tired, and with every automated task, they pay off their initial investment. While a human worker is a constant cost factor, software and robots have a more significant upfront investment but will become nearly free eventually. The software itself scales infinitely, so even if your sales grow ten times, you rarely need ten times more software.

At my company Beyond Code, we are selling online-courses for developers. This is one of the most exciting markets of all time because we only need to create a course once and can sell it infinitely without scaling operations. Take a look at our course on PHP Package Development, where you can learn how you create reusable PHP packages and don't need to build the same features multiple times–it's also a good way to automate things in your client-facing business. We are selling this course via Paddle and run our own course platform that we built for a former course. That means we have automated everything, and it makes no difference if we sell 10 or 10,000 courses. No need to burn DVDs, send them via mail, and get checks that we have to take to the bank. We don't even have to manage accounting for our sales worldwide. That's full-automation.

It is a warning

If you have competitors and you don't automate as much as you can, they will do it and have an advantage over you. Keep this in mind if you decide to pass on an investment for something that should be automated. You are still teaching people locally, and they need to travel to you to learn something? I agree that this is a normal pattern now and that nothing beats a human teacher who can address your questions directly and adapt to your skills quickly. But I believe that these types of training will move to virtual reality classrooms someday. Travel takes time, is costly, and is not good for the environment–so why shouldn't we remove these pain points and automate as much as we can?

You are still employing someone who creates daily/weekly/monthly Excel reports and presentations to get an overview of your business? Your competitor might use the salary of this person and build a real-time information system so that they can get a detailed overview of their business every time they need it. Having a system in place will not only provide real-time information, but it will also be cheaper to run in the long term. So it's much better than the human-made version.

It is a vision

Automation is a vision. Think about all the tasks you and your colleagues are doing every day. Is there something that could be automated? Are there tasks that can be automated soon? In the far future? Many things are hard to imagine, but automation is moving fast, and it starts replacing knowledge workers within the same speed as it replaced blue-collar workers in factories years ago.

An excellent example of the thrive after automation is Tesla. Their Gigafactories are planned as a huge machine where materials are put into one side and cars, and batteries are leaving the factory at the other side–without humans involved. Sure, that doesn't work yet, and they even replaced machines with workers when they realized that robots are not good enough at certain tasks yet. But I believe they will innovate continuously and reach their goal eventually.

So if you are running a business or work with clients who do, keep in mind this quote: Everything that can be automated will be.


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Leadership, Automation

Sebastian Schlein

I’m Sebastian, Managing Partner, Developer and Consultant at Beyond Code. I write about entrepreneurial topics for freelancer, agency owners and people who want to become either of these.