Automation Bias | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Posted On September 11, 2015

We’re at an inflection point in the ITO and BPO services world where we’re about to see a new level of technology: automation. On the whole, automation is a good thing. But there are some significant aspects we should be aware of. One is automation bias. And it’s dangerous.

When we move to automation, whether it’s cognitive computing or replacement of repetitive tasks, the people who are in the process become dependent on the automation. In fact, not only do they become dependent, they start to believe that whatever comes from the computer is truth. They take it for granted that the results are accurate. This is automation bias.

As a simple example, when you use a calculator, you quickly start to trust whatever the calculator results are. We have blind trust in automated tools.

Why is automation bias so dangerous?

A computer will slavishly do what it’s told to do or will run down the same cognitive analysis it has done in the past. When the world changes, the computer may not recognize that the world has changed. Change can come from one of the data sources having made a change. Or it could be an upstream or downstream change in a business process. Although people in the business process should recognize the change, automation bias may cause them not to recognize it because they believe that everything coming out of the computer is correct. This is a significant business risk.

The fact is automated tools are fallible. We all know that the world constantly changes, and automation bias presents the risk that the computer won’t recognize the change.

We’re on the verge of taking robotics and automation at a scale we have never done before. This will dramatically change how we perform business processes and how we run data centers. Organizations going down the automation path need to be aware of automation bias and build safeguards against it.


Photo credit: Flickr

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