Expanding your business? Should you increase headcount or use technology


By Rishi Mehra

I recently read an interesting research from Oracle. According to the report, 64 percent of people would trust a robot more than their manager and half have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice.

The report goes on to add that, “Workers in India (89 percent) and China (88 percent) are more trusting of robots over their managers, followed by Singapore (83 percent), Brazil (78%), Japan (76 percent), UAE (74 percent), Australia/New Zealand (58 percent), U.S. (57 percent), UK (54 percent) and France (56 percent).” It also added more men (56 percent) than women (44 percent) have turned to AI over their managers.

When asked what robots can do better than their managers, survey respondents said robots are better at providing unbiased information (26 percent), maintaining work schedules (34 percent), problem solving (29 percent) and managing a budget (26 percent).

When asked what managers can do better than robots, workers said the top three tasks were understanding their feelings (45 percent), coaching them (33 percent) and creating a work culture (29 percent).

Given this backdrop, what if we flipped this and questioned if managers are necessary at work place? Expand it a bit more and the question arises that if employees are already comfortable with robots and technology, do we need to hire people or deploy technology when scaling? The answer would definitely be you would need people as you expand, but perhaps less than what you did a decade ago. Technology can certainly aid employees at work, but certainly not replace it. If we look at it through the prism of management functions things get clearer.

Accounting and finance – Modern ERP and accounting software has made life easier when it comes to bookkeeping, taxation, and accounting, but you would still need a person to operate such software. While some functions of finance can be automated, technology has not reached a stage where no human intervention is needed. As your business expands, the role of your finance and accounting department will be more important and complex. A robust technology would be needed, but so will the need for skilled manpower to handle the new complexities.

HR – Human resources is an area where we have seen recent advancements in technology playing an important part. As evident from the Oracle survey employees trust technology mainly because they could confide in it and there were less chances of bias. However, as you expand you will also need to employees for your HR functions. Again, technology can help and aid employees, but there are a lot of aspects that need human intervention. HR is a function that deals with people and hence, it would be imperative to have adequate number of employees in your HR function.

Marketing – This is one function that has seen a lot of technology improvement.

One area within this function that has grown leaps and bounds because of technology is around marketing strategies and the ability to get insights about customers. The advent of social media has meant you can target a greater number of audiences, far beyond your geographical reach. You do not need salesman at different places to reach out to potential customers, which can now be targeted through social media and the internet. From marketing automation tool to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to SEO, technology is playing a key part. However, the bulk of the work to promote and sell products or services is still largely dependent on humans. You may have the technology tools at your disposal, but you would need the human interface to benefit and make full use of it.

As your business expands, it has to be a combination between using technology and people. Technology has not reached a stage where it can replace people, but what has changed is the nature of the job. This means you may not need a data entry operator, but a person who can make sense of the data and help you make an informed decision. As you expand, the choice should always be towards getting the best possible talent and the correct technology.

(The writer is the CEO, Wishfin.com)

Source link