Bringing Process Automation Home
Process Automation has long been the domain of large businesses seeking to produce their TPS reports faster or blast emails to potential customers. These business processes aren’t the only examples though. When Tony Stark tells JARVIS to paint his suit red or divert power to thrusters, that’s process automation. It may seem like there’s a wide gulf between sending automated emails and managing energy consumption of a powered suit of armor, but they’re closer than you think. As technology evolves, these types of automations become closer to reality.
Process automation takes many forms. It’s easy to imagine simple tasks we all perform every day and how some of those could be automated. You likely have even started down this path of automation. Do you filters set up that send your emails to certain folders based on their contents? Maybe your phone automatically syncs photos to your laptop and cloud storage when it’s connected? All of this is process automation.
It isn’t just in software either. Vending machines and ATMs automate our interactions with food service and banking providers. What if we think even bigger? What if we could automate arguably the most dangerous activity that humans commonly engage in? Nearly 40,000 people in the US die each year from traffic fatalities. That’s more than 100 per day. Automating the commute to work and all our other car trips could save those lives. That’s the biggest reason self-driving cars are on their way.
Not a coder? No problem. Here’s how to set up your own process automation.
But today there are lots of ways you can take advantage of process automation, and tools that you probably don’t even know you have. Did you know that all modern computer operating systems come with a built-in way to automate tasks that requires no coding or specific technical knowledge? You can set a program to run at a certain time, or open a browser window when another program opens, or change settings based on your usage patterns. On Windows systems, look for the Task Scheduler in the Start menu. MacOS has the Automator, accessible through Finder. And Unix-based systems have cron, which admittedly will require a little more technical savvy. All of these tools enable users to create powerful automations for a wide variety of needs.
Process automation is such a broad diverse field that there’s room for all kinds of creative use cases. Companies will continue to develop large scale AI-based systems to automate tasks, while individuals can continue to build tools that make their day-to-day lives easier. Maybe someday we’ll all have our own JARVIS to paint for us or manage our energy usage. Who knows what the future holds?
Alexa save article and submit, also lower the thermostat to 70.
Reference for the traffic fatalities stat: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_fatality_rate_in_U.S._by_year
Tutorial for Windows Task Scheduler: https://www.windowscentral.com/how-create-automated-task-using-task-scheduler-windows-10
Tutorial for MacOS Automator: https://support.apple.com/guide/automator/welcome/mac
Tutorial for Unix cron: https://opensource.com/article/17/11/how-use-cron-linux