Infrastructure and operations leaders have traditionally targeted and implemented automation technologies to cut costs, but the new automation opportunity in the age of the customer is engagement: deploying technologies that will help customers receive better service automatically or better serve themselves. Working with marketing and business leaders, technologists are playing a critical and growing role in driving the testing, piloting, deployment, and measurement of automation technologies like AI, customer self-service solutions, and robotics.\nAmong\u00a0digital predators\u00a0\u2014 those companies seeking to redefine the rules of business by employing emerging technologies \u2014 automation is quickly becoming a core competency: As robots replace or work side by side with customer-facing employees, getting automation right in service of customer engagement becomes ever more critical. Forrester forecasts that by 2027, the US economy will lose 17% of jobs, but will also add 10% equivalent as part of the automation economy \u2013 leading to a net loss of 7% of jobs.\nCustomer service jobs \u2013 like salespeople of various sorts, call center employees, and the like \u2013 will be among the losing categories. A customer preference for self-service with play a role here in some contexts. Overall, sales roles, including cashiers, sales representatives for wholesale and manufacturing firms, retail salespersons, and real estate brokers and agents will be hard hit by kiosks and self-help services.\nOpportunities lie within this changing employment environment. Automation can and should be deployed as a tool of customer obsession and innovation, not simply a cost-cutting mechanism. My new research on automation technologies for customer engagement analyzes how applying AI and robotics to the customer journey sets the stage for long-term digital transformation.\nAutomation can support customer engagement at every stage of the customer journey. For example, at the explore stage, companies can offer customers tools to help them evaluate options and develop preferences: Neiman Marcus\u2019 magic mirror, provided by vendor MemoMi, allows customers to take a photo of themselves wearing the first outfit they try on and then compare a second outfit beside the first onscreen. Additionally, in this stage, Nina, Nuance Communications\u2019 virtual assistant, engages in rich conversations with customers and can recommend products based on their preferences \u2013 yet you can apply automation technologies to boost customer engagement at any stage.\nSometimes automation can apply to multiple customer audiences.\u00a0For example, Robin Technologies, a lawn care company has two sets of customers \u2013landscapers and homeowners. Robin recognized that lawn mowing represents the least profitable portion of landscapers\u2019 businesses and that this specific job task was ripe for disruptive innovation, so it partnered with Dialexa Labs to develop a robotic lawn mowing service. Robin\u2019s automated approach allows homeowners to enjoy a higher level of lawn maintenance while suffering less aggravation, too: The robotic lawn mower resides permanently on the homeowner\u2019s lawn, recharging itself at a base station. Ultimately both customer audiences are reaping benefits.\nNot every company should invest in automation technologies for customer engagement. Digital predators or would-be digital predators are the appropriate audience for reinventing the future with customer-facing automation technologies. When deciding whether or how to pursue automation as a customer engagement enabler, businesses must take into account their automation maturity. By doing so, they can craft the right strategy, which will also vary by the type of automation technology they\u2019re considering.