I used to think automation was about saving money, but now I don’t think so. That’s just an excuse, which is often Not achieved. Automation is almost-never removed even when objectively worse than what preceded it, so long as it is minimally functional or can be made so.
For example the automated scanning tills in supermarkets have much slower throughput of customers, and require supervision/ multiple interventions by several staff. Automated telephone answering likewise. In general automated systems are considerably slower, and of course utterly inflexible - which means that less work can be done per unit time.
So why are automated systems introduced everywhere and with reckless disregard for effectiveness and efficiency? (Aside from that fact that 'implementing' any disruptive organisational change is a positive achievement for careerist managers...)
I think that, as almost always nowadays, we need to 'Think Ahriman'; that is think first about the dominant modern form of evil, and especially the totalitarian agenda at the heart of all bureaucracy.
We need to think Monitoring and Control. In automated systems everything is logged, everything that can happen is predetermined – everything can be audited...
With automation (of anything, including driving cars and the like), management has potentially-total surveillance – and management is part of the single bureaucracy/ The System – and the extension and empowerment of The System is the primary drive.
Adapted from my comment at Orphans of Liberty.