Will you be the Next Victim of Automation?

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In many cases, jobs that used to be done by people are going to be able to be done through automation. 

-John Sculley

Have you or someone you know been the unfortunate victim of automation? Did your company layoff their human workers only to begin utilizing some form of automation or self-service? No industry is safe from automation and here are 3 industries that have already been affected.


My first job was as a cashier in a local grocery store. I remember how some of the customers had their favorite cashiers and would wait patiently in line for their favorite cashier. As we checked out our customers, we would greet and engage in conversation with them.  Some customers loved to talk about their families or the current events in their lives. 

Regularly, these customers would return and look forward to providing updates to “their” cashier.  Likewise, the cashiers looked forward to seeing their loyal customers on a regular basis. It appears those days are disappearing as more retailers seek to automate their operations. 

Several months ago, I was shopping at our local Walmart. I saw workers installing new checkout stations. I remember asking a Walmart employee about it and she responded, “those are new self-service stations”. I remember shaking my head and thinking “there goes someone’s job”.

Sure enough, when I visit this Walmart now, I maybe see 1 or 2 cashiers working. Most customers are using self-service checkout stations to complete their purchases.  


How many times have you called in to a business and wanted to speak with a live person, but you were not given the option?  In these times of automation, you are lucky if you are still given the option to press “0” to speak with a live representative or to simply request customer service. 

Otherwise, it’s like trying to figure out the secret code in a game. 

Have you ever called in to a business and none of the options on the automated system applied to your situation? I have selected options that did not apply to me just to see if it would lead me to a live representative.

  Yesterday, I was told that a small customer service company in my city was going to automate more. The vice president of the company feels that the company is losing too much money by using live representatives. He feels the live representatives take too long to complete their calls, which results in hang-ups from other customers waiting to receive service.

He sees each hang-up as money out of the door as each lost call was a potential customer willing to pay money to use his services. He feels that providing more automated services will increase the number of customers who will receive service and increase profit. However, it will also decrease the need for live representatives and reduce job positions at this company.


In an article found on Mortgage Professional America, Ryan Smith cites a report by Wells Fargo when he writes “technology will result in the loss of an estimated 200,000 jobs in the US banking industry over the next decade”. 

Even before now, some services within in the banking industry were automated or self-service. For instance, the invention of the ATM has allowed customers to withdraw funds, check their balances, and even make deposits without the assistance of a representative. 

The internet has also enhanced self-service options for banking customers. For example, customers can transmit funds from their account at one bank to another account at another bank on their own. 

As technology leads to increased automation in the banking industry, the need for human resources decreases. As a result, the sizes of buildings that house banks are also decreasing. I recently noticed that a bank that was once housed in a huge building, in the downtown area of my city, moved to a newly constructed much smaller building in another part of our city. 

Technology and the use of automation can be beneficial to both businesses and customers. However, the increase in the use of automation by businesses lead to the decrease in the need for human resources. No need for human resources means no available jobs. 

Without jobs, people are not earning money. How can businesses expect to have customers if people are not able to earn money to spend at their establishments? What are your thoughts? 

Stock Photo: Courtesy of Nicole De Khors

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