If it moves, automate it

Ronald Reagan once said, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

I have a similar take on startups and business processes and problems in general:  

  • If it moves, automate it.
  • If it keeps moving, crowd source it.
  • Once it stops moving, analyze it. 

Here’s what I mean.


If it moves, automate it – we live in a tech world, and yet so many businesses still pay their employees to do things manually.  Don’t get me wrong: there are certain things that ONLY a human can do and humans can only do those things manually. That said, there are dozens or hundreds of tasks that you or your colleagues do every day that can and should be done using the power of computing and software.  Data entry comes to mind. You’d be shocked at how many businesses still enter everything manually. There’s a saying in the high tech world today: with computers and software, you can build anything. The only question is, will someone need it?

If it keeps moving, crowd source it – for those things that have to be done manually, but for some reason cannot be conquered with computers and software, there’s this thing called crowd sourcing. Crowd sourcing is fairly new, but Amazon and others have made it mainstream. Got an audio recording that you need a text transcript for? Crowdsourcing has made that easy. Someone at a PC somewhere in the world is willing to listen to your audio and type every word for a tiny fraction of what it would cost you to do it yourself. In fact, there’s hundreds of thousands of these “someones” ready to do many tasks for just a few pennies. To them, in their local economy, that’s good money.

Once it stops moving, analyze it – at this point, you’ve taken what used to be a manual, time-consuming and potentially costly (either in time or dollars) task and automated it, first using software, and second – if it kept moving – via crowd sourcing.  Now you need to repeat the whole process by analyzing where the task is now versus where it was when you first encountered and conquered it.  Has the process around this task changed so significantly that it can NOW be automated with software?

Who ever thought marketing could be automated?  Salesforce just paid $2.5B for marketing automation software.  What else in your personal or business life could be automated?

What do you think?