Some companies automate to keep head count down as people are their headache. It is so sad to me to hear. Sure, automation is needed in many cases. I would add, however, that to throw up your hands and say more people, more problems and then automate is not good business.
Invest in good equipment. Also invest up front to get good people. Further, invest in upkeep of equipment and invest in the development of your people. See also Talent Acquisition in China.
More People, More Problems, or More Right People and More Success?
One big gap I see is that it is hard to calculate the value of having the right people and right leadership to properly motivate them. What is the ROI on that hire or that cultural investment? Some people can show you the ROI, but I doubt. The upside benefit of the right hire and the right motivation are game changers that are hard to put in a box. You can measure recruiting, hiring, coaching, and team development for quality. Nonetheless, they will be hard to get an ROI for that is real. That does not mean they cannot impact the top and bottom lines. They can be the biggest impact of all for better or worse.
People do not have to be such a big headache. If you have a means to guard the gate so only the right people get in, you will not automate for bad reasons anymore. Just surrendering to politics and infighting is no solution.
Internal solutions to the talent war lack the professional strength to end the headaches and make people a clear asset. Fortune 500 companies by systems can force a lot of work and get things moving, but the politics is still poison.
Companies too often hire and promote politicians unwittingly thus making companies think more people is more problems.