This Letter Was Not Written By a Robot
Just uttering the word “technology” can elicit myriad reactions—running the gamut from exhilarating to horrifying.
On one end of the spectrum, advances in computer systems and artificial intelligence have led to a higher quality of life. Technology can (and has) helped cure diseases, better control the world’s food supply, and open up an era of incredible interconnectedness that has forever altered the way people communicate and go about their daily lives.
Of course, on the other side of the argument: Robots will take our jobs.
That’s a joke, but I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s trepidation surrounding technological advancements; there are legitimate concerns, starting with the very fact that as technology replaces many tasks formerly performed by real, live people, there is often a personal, human element that’s lost, not to mention a tangible loss of jobs in some cases.
I’m going out on a very short and sturdy limb here in assuming many of you fall more in line with that first group mentioned, rather than the second. Our cover story this month is our second-annual Ratchet+Wrench Shop Technology Survey. Judging from the results in it, the vast majority of folks operating businesses in the auto service industry have embraced technology and have chosen to face any challenges associated with it head on. To borrow a couple examples: Eighty-one percent of respondents now use an electronic management system (up ever so slightly from 80 percent in 2016), and 35 percent use an electronic inspection sheet (3 percent percent higher than in 2016). Ninety-nine percent of you have at least one diagnostic scan tool, and roughly 95 percent have a repair information subscription.
Those are fairly remarkable numbers that show just how progressive this industry really is—and there are plenty of other examples in the story. I won’t give it all away here. Read the story. and if you still yearn for even more, look for the revamped, complete, for-sale report online at ratchetandwrench.com/2017shoptechsurvey. It’ll be worth your time.
But here’s my point with all of this, and, really, it’s a point that’s been made countless times in past issues of our magazine by people far more qualified than me to make it: Technology aids in creating efficiencies in the tasks your business—any business—performs, which ultimately allows more opportunity to make true connections to customers.
Yes, every industry has experience with technology replacing certain jobs. It’s true even in journalism, as our team here at Ratchet+Wrench sat through a seminar recently in which the speaker discussed how “robots” eventually could write our stories. The Associated Press has already started using computer systems to generate content in some isolated cases. Maybe this could become the norm? Maybe it’s far-fetched and unrealistic? Maybe a robot wrote this entire letter? Who’s to say? (Full disclosure: A robot did not write this letter.)
Whatever the potential outcomes could be, the fear of the unknown can’t cause hesitancy in making decisions that better your business and improve the quality of life for you and your team. Technology won’t replace the human element that makes your businesses great, but it will change the way you operate. And in the end, long-term success likely will come down to how you react. Is the advancement of technology an issue or an opportunity? Well, that’s up to you to decide.