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Are Canadians lagging behind the automation curve?

Given automation drives efficiency, why are Canadian workers lagging behind those in the U.S.?

A typical office desk. Image: Mattes / Wikimedia / Public Domain (CC0 1.0)
A typical office desk. Image: Mattes / Wikimedia / Public Domain (CC0 1.0)

Many business gurus recommend technology applications where human input is minimized. If this is the right recommendation to follow, take-up continues to be low in several sectors and there are international variations.

A new finding suggests Canadians are trailing the U.S. when it comes to business automation. This derives from the company Zapier who ran a business leader poll and found that Canadian knowledge workers only spend 18 percent of their time on their core job functions and spend a high amount of time on data entry.

The survey polled 1,000 Canadians in business and the answers were compared to U.S. workers from an earlier survey.

The analysis found that the COVID-19 pandemic led to more workers being introduced to automation workflow tools. Of the workers that use automation tools, the majority of Canadians (78 percent) started using them in the last two years.

Yet Canadians still trail those in the U.S.  in automation usage. One of the reasons drawn out from the survey related to the possibly that some Canadian workers feel like they do not need automation as much.

This is borne out by Canadians reporting 38 percent less manual work, 36 percent fewer distractions from messaging apps, 23 percent fewer unnecessary meetings, and 20 percent less burnout than U.S. workers.

While Canadians reported less burnout, it would seem that workday efficiencies can play a role.  Here, 18 percent of Canadians spend less than one hour a day on core job functions.

Furthermore, 71 percent of Canadians polled spend up to three hours a day on data entry and 86 percent of Canadians spend up to five hours a day checking messenger apps.

In related news, a survey of 500 small-to-medium sized business owners, conducted by the company Ontraport, found that 13 percent of respondents spend a significant 20 or more hours a week on tedious and repetitive tasks. These tasks include responding to customers, setting appointments, reviewing leads, and handling payments and refunds.

This provides a signal as to why, in some areas at least, automation is critical. Automation is about the creation and application of technologies to produce and deliver goods and services with minimal human intervention.

The survey also found that 62 percent of respondents said they would put time saved through automation back into their business. The question is how to do this? One consideration is a single platform concept instead of juggling between systems, although this depends on the suitability of a single system functionality.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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