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Automation and human error: Turning liability into opportunity


By Eric J. Bruno

What's the cost of human error, and can customer loyalty and brand perception actually improve when something goes wrong? In this age of advanced technology, human errors still occur. There are associated costs to these errors, and technology and automation can help reverse them. One example of this is the "accidental" price increases that took place at Starbucks this summer.

As the saying goes, "To err is human." We all know that errors occur, and in the grand scheme of things, this one was minor. But could it have been prevented? Better yet, could procedures have been put into place to automatically correct it?

A missed opportunity

In the above example, Starbucks accidentally overcharged customers by rolling out price increases earlier than they had announced, caused by a human error related to their POS systems. The company subsequAutomation_and_human_error_Turning_liability_into_opportunity.jpgently alerted customers to the error and offered to make things right. By announcing that the roll-out took place before planned, the company went above and beyond with its openness.

When an error occurs within a retail POS system or online ordering system, especially when a loyalty program is involved, there's an opportunity for vendors to showcase the value of such programs by automatically rectifying errors. Instead of leaving it up to a customer to call customer service, send an email, or return to the store, vendors who use their technology to automate the detection of errors and orchestrate a refund will leave their customers with a positive impression.

Artificial intelligence (AI) as competitive advantage

Companies of all types are investing heavily in AI technology, but one that's very committed is Facebook. Much has been written about Facebook's use of AI in facial recognition, but its application of AI and research behind the scenes go much deeper. For instance, Facebook announced the DeepText project in June of this year, using AI to understand and analyze text.

Facebook's AI technology and research go a long way toward building competitive advantage through customer service as well. There's also work underway to improve security and avoid data breaches through AI. Automation not only helps create more effective customer service operations, but also eliminates the human error factor. AI is considered so strategic to Facebook that the company went from having no official research arm to now having two: the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) facility, and its Applied Machine Learning lab. Both aim to help humans communicate more effectively, connect more efficiently, and discover what matters to them more quickly—all while keeping them on Facebook to achieve it.

Automation: The answer for disaster recovery

Disasters take many forms and can affect many regions of the world and your business as a result. Often, human error can lead to a chain of events that cause a disaster, or compound the effects of disaster response. The use of automation and orchestration technology can help by speeding up the disaster response and recovery time, and eliminating human errors that often occur in frenzied and stressful situations.

By putting technology in place to address disaster recovery, you're already ahead of the 40 percent of organizations that don't have a strategy in place at all. It also helps to ensure your disaster recovery strategy is up-to-date with changes in your processes, and to minimize your downtime. As a result, the next time something negative happens due to human error or a natural disaster, you'll be telling your customers how technology kept their systems and data safe and available instead of giving updates on when they'll be ready again.

Learn more about reducing the potential for human error with automation and orchestration.

Judy-Anne Goldman
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About the Author


My work with HPE's Enterprise.nxt team gives me a way to share my passion for emerging technology. I love connecting people to innovation, and sharing stories that help others engage with and understand the world around them. I'm a digital nomad, often found traveling with my micro companion KC, a 10-pound mini Dachshund.