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Saturday, April 24, 2004It started with ATMs. Then gas stations. Now self-service kiosks are taking over airports and invading McDonald's restaurants. Is this the face of the jobless recovery? Or will automation make service better for workers and customers alike?Crudely put, the work that required 100 people in 2000 requires just 89 people today in the US.Employment has actually grown in other service businesses that have been automated. At the dawn of the self-service banking age in 1985, for example, the United States had 60,000 automated teller machines and 485,000 bank tellers. In 2002, the United States had 352,000 ATMs--and 527,000 bank tellers. ATMs notwithstanding, banks do a lot more than they used to and have a lot more branches than they used to.each Kinetics self-check-in machine, at an initial cost of between $6,000 and $10,000, takes the place of two-and-a-half ticket agents, because the machine is available (at least) from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week--or about the number of hours that many agents would work. But that both understates and overstates the machines' impact.Kinetics has installed 3,800 self-check-in machines for airlines--but 9,500 ticket agents have not lost their jobs.Here's the double-reverse flip of productivity improvement: The kiosks have increased sales at McDonald's so much that the owners have had to add two more employees in each store.The final surprise is that customers who use the kiosks spend more money. A very interesting article.
|Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld