Automating the way forward just like Henry Ford

Road at Night

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Foresight is better. If you had known the plane was going to be delayed for three hours, you wouldn’t have rushed to the airport. If you had known that the market was going to crash, you wouldn’t have invested in those stocks.

The fact is that life offers no crystal ball. There is no way of knowing for sure what the future holds. Instead, we base many of our decisions on what we already know. There may be times where we know there is a gap in our knowledge and that we can plug this gap with information. There may also be times when we don’t know what we don’t know and we just need to take our best guess.

Uncertainty crops up in the world of technology all of the time, and guessing can often take us down the wrong path. The trick is knowing how to work with uncertainty and to get to a place where a wrong path becomes part of a learning curve rather than just a costly failure. You need to be free to try out exciting new things on the fly.

What’s really important is that we don’t allow lack of knowledge or experience to stop us from innovating. Automation is going to play a huge part in helping us to achieve this by providing the environment and tools required to keep moving forward.

What’s really important is that we don’t allow lack of knowledge or experience to stop us from innovating. Automation is going to play a huge part in helping us to achieve this by providing us with the environment and tools required to keep moving forward.

All They Wanted Was A Faster Horse

Back in 1913, when car ownership was reserved for the privileged few, Henry Ford had a vision. That vision was quite simple on paper — to produce the largest number of cars possible, with a simple design and at an affordable cost. At the time, Ford was making cars the same way that everybody else was making cars — one at a time.

Whether or not Ford actually said the line in the above image is up for debate, but even if he didn’t verbalise his thoughts, history tells us that he was certainly thinking along those lines. Ford’s target audience didn’t know what they didn’t know. They wanted to get from A to B faster, but their only vision was to do so by horse. Ford, frustrated with the time it took to build one car, set to work on building an assembly line that automated the car manufacturing process and enabled him to make his cars available to the masses.

This one vision was revolutionary, and changed the car manufacturing industry forever. Where one car once took his team 728 minutes to build, Ford’s plant was soon manufacturing a new car every 93 minutes. In the end, he did give his target audience what amounted to a faster horse. He just did it in a way they never could have imagined. And it was all down to the automation of a process.

The End Of The Road For Friday Cars

One of the most important benefits of automation is that it is repeatable and predictable on a grand scale. Humans are fantastic at doing things, but they could never match the predictability and consistency of a well structured automated process. Take a car production line manned by human workers, for example. They work hard from Monday to Thursday, but maybe start to flag and lose interest at the end of the week. Once Friday comes around they might be producing a car that is well below standard. These were once known affectionately as ‘Friday cars’, and were usually dogged by all sorts of issues. You may have heard the term. If you bought one, you have my sympathy.

One of the most important benefits of automation is that it is repeatable and predictable on a grand scale. Humans are fantastic at doing things, but they could never match the predictability and consistency of a well structured automated process.  

Automation eliminates these inconsistencies and repeats perfection and innovation at speeds that cannot be replicated by a human team. The manual production line is a great way to illustrate this point, but you can bet there are Friday products and services present in any industry that has yet to embrace automation.

We Must Find Ways To Move Forward Without Risk

As Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” To put that another way, we cannot use yesterday’s tech to solve tomorrow’s problems. We need to see beyond the “faster horse” and look for ways to innovate and give our ideas wings. More and more companies are starting to realize the true potential of being agile and the freedom a cloud environment gives them to push boundaries that were previously blocked by risk and uncertain costs.

The beauty of automating in the cloud is that you don’t have to commit at the beginning to a huge cost for an unknown ending. You don’t even need to be clear on what you want to achieve. Once you start migrating work processes to the cloud, you’re going to have an environment ready and waiting for that light bulb moment, and all without the guesswork, high cost and risk. You’re going to have a way to automate processes so they are repeatable, predictable and scalable. And just like Ford, you’re going to have ways and means to deliver products to your customers that they never knew they needed until they were made available and within their reach.

Connect with Mike Revitt on Twitter and LinkedIn.

RELATED LINKS

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