The economy continues to be a major concern. Housing is coming back and the stock market has seen a resurgence, but overall the recovery still appears to be on hold or very weak at best. One bright spot in the country’s economic woes has driven companies to focus on improving productivity by using the latest tools for automation. Philips (News - Alert) Electronics NV even moved some manufacturing back to Europe from China by building an automated facility that requires few employees because the processes are almost entirely done by robots. Their operation is a great example of how increased productivity can be used to compete on a global level, regardless of labor costs.
Granted, not many manufacturing jobs were created, but at least some jobs were created, with the opportunity to add more in the future.
Automating office operations can have similar benefits, and improve productivity up to a globally competitive level. Certainly nobody wants to see anyone lose his/her job, but in our global economy, companies will either restructure their operations to compete or the company’s health will suffer and more jobs will be lost. Plus, increased productivity makes companies more competitive and may allow them to actually grow and add jobs.
Companies processing data and information in fields like insurance, healthcare services and finance are ideal candidates for this automation.
Fax over IP, VoIP, Unified Communications, Virtual Offices and hosted services can all improve productivity and reduce costs, and provide mobility to all employees. Mobility is very important to “road warriors” but can be equally essential in furnishing home offices with the same technology as office-based employees. Statistically, home office workers put in more hours per week than their in-office counterparts further increasing productivity.
Plus, on average, home office workers are happier in their jobs that their company office-based counterparts so it is a win-win situation for all.
A bonus in all of this is in increasing productivity in both good times and bad, so if the economy bounds back, the more efficient operations can gain market share quicker than their counterparts using legacy technologies. An added windfall is that Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) features are built in to most of these solutions, so the entire operation is also more secure. Something that is particularly critical to the healthcare industry since HIPAA has stringent BC/DR rules.
Edited by Braden Becker