Automation has always been an appealing idea, providing routine completion of repetitive tasks and allowing more time for other initiatives. While some degree of automation has been a feature of computing systems for years, there is still a great deal of room for innovative developers to create new products and features. Below, we’ll highlight a few of the accomplishments that developers have made in automating our lives at work and at home.
Business automation allows companies to focus on research, innovation and customer service by saving the time required to collect data manually. Automation workflows tend to focus on one of several areas: data collection, sales alerts for managers or automatic customer contact. For example, while customers can be contacted by human representatives, automation allows timely outreach to current or prospective customers via targeted emails that are sent as soon as a user performs a predetermined action. If a user downloads a report from a website, for example, a follow-up email with related information can automatically be sent to them.
For sales companies, market research that identifies when a user is most likely to purchase a product can be used to create an automation workflow. For example, if research determines that customers are most likely to buy after viewing certain articles on the company website, a notice about a sale or other promotion can be configured to automatically reach those customers once those articles are read. This allows companies to maximize the number of site visits that generate actual sales.
Some customers will fill their online shopping carts with items and not complete the checkout process. Automation can be used to send emails to these customers, reminding them that they have items to be purchased, offering them an enticing sale or coupon code, or asking them why they did not choose to complete the transaction. This information provides valuable insight into a customer’s buying habits on a scale that would be extremely difficult without automation.
In 2011, Nest Labs released their first Learning Thermostat. This is a WiFi-enabled device that learns users’ preferred temperature settings throughout the day and automates its controls accordingly. Further improvements to the device have brought the ability to control the device with your smartphone or tablet. Perhaps a user forgot to turn off the heat when they were going away for vacation. With a mobile device, the user can change the settings of the thermostat wherever they are.
Now, Nest Labs has taken the technology of its thermostat and introduced a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. Like the thermostat, Nest Protect is both WiFi enabled and controllable via a mobile app. This allows users to monitor the safety of their homes even while they are away and, in the event of an alarm, contact the authorities remotely.
The exciting change in home automation is that Nest products are not intended solely for the wealthy. Home automation has been a feature of luxury homes for a number of years, but until now this technology has been far too expensive and complicated for the average user. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in recent years, advanced automation technology is reaching the hands of people everywhere.
By 2018, ABI Research predicts an 11.5% growth in the home automation industry worldwide, which is an increase of approximately $14.1 billion. With expectations that this growth will primarily be centered in the United States, it is clear that there will be ample opportunity for creative developers to have an impact on the industry. While the automation solutions listed above are marked improvements in business and home life, they are really only just the beginning of what we will be seeing over the next few decades.