Imagine that you just entered hotel lobby but instead of standing in front of always smiling person you just look at the monitor with the virtual assistant. This is the reality that is waiting just around the corner.
I am the big fan of automation, especially marketing automation. It not only makes life easier but also help you to decrease cost if you act wisely. But there’s another face of automation that I don’t like.
When we strip business definition from all things like vision, mission, etc. and focus on absolute basics we will come to the conclusion that this basic rule of business is to decrease costs as much as possible and increase revenue as much as possible. The other rule is to meet the expectations of the customers, deliver them what they expect and what they want to pay. In more and more cases automation is the answer for all these.
More and more people get used to the situation where they can do many things sitting on their couches in their rooms. Search, compare offers, click, pay and it’s done. No need to talk, just quick action. Many of them are not interested in dealing with other people; they prefer to do as much as possible online, on mobile, in fact, it doesn’t matter how but as long as they don’t need to deal with other people it’s better. I don’t even mention about the introvert people. And this is great information for business.
When the company can’t create a need, business should answer to existing needs.
The intelligent hotel is not science-fiction since some time. For many people, it’s perfect solution. You need to deal neither receptionist nor other hotel staff. In the intelligent hotel you as a guest you can check-in and check-out by yourself using the only mobile device. Thanks to the same mobile device you can get your room keys, then inside your room, you can steer everything that is inside – light, TV, air-condition, etc. There is a still concierge who will help you if you need (advice where to go, where to eat good dinner, etc.) but let’s be honest – he can also be replaced by the machine. In fact and with time most of the people who works in services can be replaced by machines. I mean this is not the case of hotels only, it’s about all services you can imagine and also the services you can’t imagine today.
Let’s think about cooks. Do you think that robot will be not able to prepare a meal for you? I know what you think now. The taste. But what about recipes? The proportions? You can program the robot to take only what is needed in proper balance and cook it as long as it’s needed – not longer and not shorter.
So you are in the hotel room, and you’re taking your mobile and ordering a meal. Robot in the kitchen starts to prepare it with no delay (by the way the robot can work 24/7, and it will not complain!). When it’s ready, the other robot will deliver it to you. Restaurant? Take your mobile, reserve a place, order meals and go there. Oh by the way you can go with self-driving taxi – let’s say Uber without the driver.
Ok, but hotels and restaurants are not for everybody you can say. OK, that’s true. For many people, it’s not a case. How about supermarkets? Everyone has to do some shopping from time to time. I see the place to automate everything. Everything you can buy in the shop, there’s on some shelf or another location. The remaining part of products is stored in the warehouse. Everything is connected, and central system knows when next part of articles should be ordered. When the delivery arrives, it could be automatically stored in the warehouse, and some part can be delivered to shelf available for customers. From the other side, clients can also be replaced – you can order everything from home and wait for delivery (automated of course).
There’s possibility to automate a lot more, what must be tempting from one perspective. You are reducing salary from your P&Ls and salaries in many companies are the biggest cost. So you can get rid of it. Sure, at the very beginning you need to invest in the infrastructure, technology but in the long term, you will get more than you invest.
But there’s only one question with no easy answer. If we will automate almost everything, who will be our customers? Or rather who will still earn money to pay for the goods and services? Programmers. Everyone involved in AI, VR, robotics, etc. – yes, sure. How about all the rest? Universal Basic Income? Well, I am not sure if it solves the problem. So, in fact, the biggest challenge for business is not an automation itself, but the number of available customers when most employees will not be needed anymore. In the world where many people will be not needed…