The word automation denotes replacement of human labour by machine. The mechanical operations in office with less human participation is termed as automation. The word mechanization and automation should not be considered as synonymous. Mechanization refers to a process whereby office machines and equipments are introduced in the office with a view to aid administrative processes.
But automation is something more than mechanization because automation is a self regulated process in which the work is completed with minimum human efforts. The self regulated process aims at continuous flow of information without minimum human intervention. So in brief the word automation denotes the art of recording, processing and controlling the information automatically by mechanical and electronic machine.
Needs and Importance
The need for automation is felt because of the following reasons. These reasons emphasize on importance of automation. The reasons are :
(a) Automation facilitate efficient and detailed information through the use of mechanical aids like computers.
(b) It ensures speedy recording. Processing and presenting of information.
(c) Increased volume of work, scarcity of time and the slow manual processes necessitate the introduction of automation.
(d) It facilitates better quality work by reducing errors which are created on manual work.
(e) Revolution in office has been brought by automation because increased volume of work is handled in a better manner with greater accuracy and speed because of automation. This process results in increased output.
(f) Automation increases the goodwill and reputation of the firm because it adds to the prestige and status symbol of the enterprise.
Effects of Automation
Automation is suited to the developed countries of the world which have attained a state of full employment phenomenon. In those countries, automation becomes necessary because of scarcity of manpower. Automation is not suggested for a developing country like India because here the state of unemployment is visualized and automation will increase this state of unemployment. But automation should be introduced in post offices, railways, banks where the increased workload necessitates quick and accurate service to the public. Automation leads the following effects :
(a) Automation results in the state unemployment because human labour is replaced by mechanical work.
(b) It requires huge investment and as such it goes beyond the capacity of small scale firms to afford for automation.
(c) It brings about a complete change in the organizational structure and involves a great deal of additional cost.