Everything seems to be automated and electronic these days. If I call a company and a real person answers the phone, it almost throws me off because I’m so used to automated responses and having to press ten buttons before I can speak to a real person. I called a company the other day and a computer voice offered to take my phone number and call me back when they are available. Often the computer voices will direct you to visit their website and do whatever you need to do there instead of waiting on the phone. It’s genius really…we pay them to do the work ourselves, and we pay a lot for it because they had to buy all of that electronic equipment to make it work. My cable company has their website set up so that I can order or add to my services online with no problem, but if I want to cancel or downgrade, I have to call and sit on hold…interesting marketing technique.
Automation started long before this digital age though. Manufacturing plants and factories have machines that do most of the heavy work, like this pharmacy automation, and even tracking packages and labelling envelopes is as easy as print and apply. I remember handwriting addresses on hundreds of envelopes when I was just out of college and helping with a fundraising campaign. It took hours and would have been done in a fraction of the time with these technologies. In many ways, these new technologies are great…they increase productivity and make it easier to meet consumer demands, but they also eliminate jobs and make skilled workers redundant.
Despite the downfalls, I still appreciate a lot of the services available these days. I love that I can do my banking online, and pay my bills with just a couple of clicks. I like reading my local newspapers online and checking for movies playing nearby by using an app on my phone. Text messaging and instant messages help us keep connected to family and friends with ease, and I can get a weather report whenever I want one, for anywhere in the world, by checking on my phone or computer. My PVR makes sure I never miss my favourite shows, and we even stay up to date with what is happening in my children’s classes by reading their class blogs and twitter accounts! I definitely appreciate the convenience of many of these things.
What automated services or technology can you not live without?