Automation: are we moving forward or slowing down?

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Spain, known for its administrative bureaucracy and occasional delays in the adoption of new technology, is at a crossroads with automation.

While automation holds the promise of increased efficiency, the country is facing significant adaptation issues, resulting in widespread frustration among both locals and expatriates.

Bureaucratic roadblocks in Spain: a challenge for expatriates?

Bureaucracy is considered the main challenge for many expatriates and immigrants in Spain. The Finnish Emilia Lilius, 32, shares her frustrations:

“Coming to Spain and then having to do all the bureaucracy stuff, and getting used to everything taking so long, […] is really hard. Multiple different appointments where you have to be physically in whereas in Finland everything would just be online and super easy.”

The questionable efficiency of the current bureaucratic system has pushed Spain to embrace automation.

However, the introduction and adaptation of technologies such as AI-driven scheduling systems and automated customer service platforms have been slow and problematic.

Mike Senker, who recently shared his opinion about automation in Spain in EuroWeekly News newspaper, explained his attempts to book an appointment with a neurologist at Xanit Hospital.

Despite pressing the right buttons and navigating through automated menus in English, the process fails due to access issues in the app and a lack of English speakers attendees.

“All this automated stuff is great if it works. The problem is that it doesn’t or at least it doesn’t work all the time and that’s when the frustration starts,” said Senker.

Can automation overcome Spain’s bureaucratic labyrinth?

Automation could streamline such processes, yet Spain’s infrastructure and service preparation often lag behind.

Nathan Zorzi, an assistant professor of economics at Dartmouth University argued, on the university website, that the speed of automation is excessive and should be cut in half.

“Firms do not necessarily take into account the consequences that automation has for their workers. Instead, they tend to focus on the value that automation will bring to the firm and its shareholders,” he says.

The reliance on centralized systems holds up effective customer service, especially for English-speaking individuals.

While automation aims to simplify tasks, its implementation in Spain shows significant challenges ahead.

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Written by

Talyta Franca

Talyta Franca, Class 2026, Northwestern University in Qatar.

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