When you hear the phrase office automation you may visualize robots doing a person's job. However, this is not the case. Office automation is a process that uses technology to automate information gathering, communication, presentation, and calculation. Essentially, office automation is a system that helps with the storing and processing of data in all its many forms. This is not to be confused with office mechanization, which is where physical labor is replaced with technology. Instead, automation is how technology can replace more tedious brain functions. For example, not too many years back we would have to calculate the day's intake of money with a calculator or adding machine, and we would have to manually record the amount and file it away in a cabinet. Now, it can be punched into a computer and the data is automatically stored.
There are a variety of benefits that we get from using office automation. One of the largest is that technology is doing the more complex calculations, which means that less skilled workers can do the jobs that used to require more skill. This means that less wages can be paid for less educated employees.
Other benefits include organization. Office automation places all data and communication in one place. This keeps the data nicely organized and easy to access. Office automation is also time saving. The quickness with which you can access information, send an email, or even have a meeting saves time during the day, and creates quick communication. Plus, the task of filing and calculating is no longer manual, freeing up employees to take care of larger work processes.
Money saving benefits also come into play. Office automation allows for video meetings instead of flights, and postage is no longer needed when you have email. Additionally, office automation allows for less human error. With the advent of technology there is less calculation error, which means more accuracy and less work redoing tasks and processes. There are also space saving benefits. Since automation contains data, it makes filing cabinets and storage obsolete, which saves space, allowing for smaller offices.
Now let's look at some challenges of office automation. Technology hiccups are the largest challenges of automation, such as is if the system goes down, or gets a virus, or the power goes out. This halts a large portion of business until it can be brought back up. Depending on the issue you may also lose data, and without hard copies you may lose information permanently.