Perhaps one could teach the automata magic theory and use it as an laboratory assistant. Perhaps not as cheap as hiring a servant with good intelligence and letting the servant learn magic theory to function as a lab assistant. I am not entirely sure if an ungifted person (pr thing) can learn and use magic theory in a creative way. But if they could it would certainly be a good use. Non the less, the lab gets more impressive if you have an automata working there. If you could teach it finesse you could have it perform craft magic with an magic item. This is perhaps most useful if your covenant is short of grogs or space.