Now that tech is here, the one looming fear is that when some tasks will be replaced by automation, that will result in job loss. So, while digitalization is exciting, it also arises doubts and speculation. In this post, we will explain how technology affects parking operators - and why there's no reason to be afraid.
Technology has made its way permanently into parking, and is at the root of the industry’s future. Exciting, yes, but it also arises other kinds of emotions and questions. Keeping an eye on the smart parking discussions, there is some resistance there that stems from fear. Fear of change, fear or the unfamiliar, and maybe more than anything, fear of becoming obsolete.
We've all heard the predictions about robotics sweeping in and taking over jobs. In parking, however, automation is not an early retirement plan - it’s a huge opportunity.
This isn’t the first time parking is changing
First of all, let’s acknowledge the fact that getting some things machine run will be a change in the role of the parking operator - but that’s nothing new. Starting from the 1930s, the concrete tasks of a parking operator have certainly changed, not once or twice but countless times. Now they are changing again, and that change is in the same line of evolution that has taken us from emptying coins from parking meters to receiving SMS payments from a phone that didn’t have the prefix “smart.”
In fact, some sources argue that the arrival of automation is nothing more than a natural continuum to the development of the employment scene that has been going on since the beginning of time, from agriculture to industrialization (remember assembly lines?). Just like other professions, parking is and has been in that same flux. So, instead of thinking of it as an apocalyptic scenario, they introduce the idea that it’s nothing more than a new chapter in the history of organized labor.
In fact, quoted in an article by TechCrunch, researcher James E. Bessen states that there’s only profession that has provenly completely disappeared because of technology - elevator operators.
Software can not do your job - but it can help you do it better
Looking at parking as an occupation, the one thing that helps understand why there’s no threat is to look at what the division of tasks would be in the digital realm. That’s something that can easily cause confusion, because it can be hard to form a clear picture of where tech comes in exactly. So for that, let’s get one thing straight: you are the master, software is the servant. Parking software is there to make your life easier, not plot you off the driver’s seat (pun intended).
The experience parking professionals accumulate over their careers is something that can never be replaced. You yourself can decide what software you want to use, and ensure that it does what you want it to do. Those decisions stem from knowing the industry inside out, and having that solid understanding of its past, present and future. (For a more detailed checklist of what to look for in a provider, check out our helpful article!)
What’s more, software can never replace the human-to-human interaction that you can give. When you’re building relationships with partners that can grow your business, you in person will have those negotiations. Sure, a streamlined way to stay up-to-date on ROI, for example, comes in very handy. But when it comes to establishing partnerships, making long-term plans and meeting people, it’s just you in all your humanness that can do it.
Ultimately, it’s exactly how Kelly Cheeseman of Amazon says: “... technology wouldn’t mean anything if you didn’t have great employees that help interact and engage with it.”
So what it all boils down to it: you continue to run your business. Technology is there to help you run in it the best possible way.
People tend to see technology as a double-edged sword, an opportunity and a threat. The broad benefits have already been discussed in this blog a lot (cost-efficiency, sustainability, user experience), but in this post I wanted to address the assumed threat, the uneasiness that creeps into people’s minds no matter how much they acknowledge the opportunity.
It’s understandable that the “robots will steal your job” discourse gets people worried (although it usually refers to manufacturing work). But because parking operators as experts of their field cannot be replaced, they are not the ones that need to fear letting technology into their lives. On the contrary - when a parking operator has the tech to streamline things, the chances of growing turnover and revenue are at their best.
And one more thing: using software can reduce costs, and those savings can be used for growing volumes - subsequently leading to hiring more people to work. And that’s the opposite of job loss.