At a recent event, I sat next to an executive with an application automation technology company who told me that the retiring baby boomers are creating a good business opportunities for her company. The reason being, is when baby boomers retire, they leave a gap in skills and experience. That’s when these vendors swoop in to automate applications to manage a risk-laden process otherwise requiring the specific experience reaped from years on the job.

In high risk sectors like financial services in particular, she said, companies can hire cheaper young grads who don’t yet understand the intricacies of the business, knowing that the risk is offset by automated applications.

And, in the current economic downturn, companies forced to downsize have created the same vacuum as did retiring baby boomers. Companies forced to shed manpower will have to sacrifice expertise. Others might choose to go the way of getting rid of high-salaried employees in favour of cheaper hires with less expertise.

Automating workflows does take some of the risk out of the business. It creates efficiency, workflow integration, and even helps peers better collaborate. But not all events that a system processes will be standard cookie-cutter ones. Keeping some seasoned staff around might help with those ad-hoc events that can’t be simply digested by an automated process.

And, what of maintenance? If some part of the automated process needed modifying or even redesigning, those with an understanding of the business risks would be better equipped to know how to eliminate them.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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