Boston Dynamics, the robotics design pioneer, caused a stir this week when the latest videos of its creations in action went viral. It’s not just the technical innovation that audiences find fascinating, it’s the designer’s habit of giving their robots a resemblance to living things.

In particular, the four-legged machines seen trying to open doors in their laboratory this week reminded people of pet dogs.

Watching a robot dog “figure out” how to open a door is an eerie experience, and people can be forgiven for thinking these actions are being taken with no outside help. The truth is that human guidance is still essential. While the machines do support onboard computing, remote control is what makes these “pets” do what they do. That doesn’t detract from the progress Boston Dynamics are making. Their remarkable product range includes the SandFlea, which drives along flat surfaces like a remote-controlled car and can make vertical jumps of 30 feet, and the Cheetah, a four-footed creation that can run at 28 miles per hour. That’s approximately the same speed as an in-form Usain Bolt.

The debate continues about whether this level of engineering innovation will be good or bad news for the human workforce. How threatened should we feel?

Are robots really going to take our jobs? The robot dog videos from Boston Dynamics give us a helpful hint. Yes, these extraordinary machines may have the superficial appearance of man’s best friend, but it’s difficult to imagine one snuggling at the foot of the bed.

There’s no substitute for the real thing, and while automation in the workplace can take plenty of tasks out of human hands, nuanced human intelligence is still needed to make good use of technology.

Jane Systems has spent two decades maintaining the delicate balance between automation and ingenuity, and the success of that balance is perfectly illustrated in the Workflow module. Jane Workflow transforms your HR system from simple record keeping into a fully automated system which does the work for you. Many business processes can be repetitive and subject to error. If you map these processes onto workflows, though, you can automate and monitor them. Productivity rises, the potential for error falls and consistent quality becomes a way of life.

Increasing automation in the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean running on auto-pilot. Robot dogs still need human guidance and automated workflows still need astute management.

Jane Systems enables people to manage their processes with maximum efficiency, but we never lose sight of the fact that successful systems are controlled by skilled individuals. It’s still about people. It’s still about you.

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