How Automation Can Help Your Business

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1st December 2022
5 Minute Read

What is automation in business?

 

Our current workplaces are a product of decades of evolution and adaption to changing markets and technology. However, even today it is easy to be oblivious to automation in business. We all regularly use ATMs, which take the place of bank clerks and we all have an idea of the extent of robots used in the manufacture of cars and other consumer goods.

In its infancy and to operate effectively, business automation required huge processing power from mainframes but now with super-efficient cloud-based applications, the same services can be offered to companies that are small or large.

Business automation is an umbrella term for several different types of applications, which carry out different functions. The common theme is that they all carry out repetitive tasks quickly and effectively, freeing up employees to work on better-value tasks. These are the principal automation categories:

 

  1.   Basic Automation

As the name suggests, basic automation involves automating some of the simplest business tasks. Straightforward automation tools require little or no coding to digitize repetitive jobs at speed and without error. Both business process management (BPM) and robotic process automation (RPA) are classed as basic automation.

  1.   Process Automation

Process automation is usually carried out by software specific to a particular task. Typically, uniformity and transparency are key objectives in managing these business processes, along with improved productivity and analytical business insights. Examples of process automation include process mining, along with workflow automation.

  1.   Advanced Automation

Advanced automation is a more specialist application, applied to complex processes where employees and machines aim to integrate systems throughout the company. Machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) are typically combined to work with unstructured data. The analysis aids management in effective decision-making. 

  1.   Intelligent automation

The ‘intelligence’ in intelligent automation reveals that applications have the capability to learn. In this context, learning means creating decisions based on previous job encounters, which have been analyzed for improvement.

On many websites, we now regularly see chatbots, which can handle the bulk of simple customer inquiries, freeing up staff to personally handle more complex issues.

 

Why automation is important?

 

The concept of digital transformation has been bandied around for quite a few years, but many companies still struggle to engage with end-to-end conversion. The requirement for ad hoc coding makes costs a frequent barrier.

However, from a purely comparative perspective, when the competition benefits from automation advantages such as lower costs, increased efficiency, and improved employee and customer satisfaction, it would only be a churlish business owner who would stand by and observe.

 

The Benefits of Automation

 

Reduces operational costs

 

All departments have simple tasks that can be accommodated by automation. For example, any mailing room needs to regularly dispatch a variety of mailing packs to customers. Automation can simplify the task, of collating the required documents for each pack. This leads to savings in processing time but also the cost-of-service delivery, as well.

For internal communications, staff can turn to a secure multichannel communication platform, which offers the security, reliability, and speed required. To produce documents for external dispatch, an employee communications portal can deliver post or emails with no requirement for capital expenditure, store postal stock or service, and maintain mailroom equipment.

 

Boosts productivity

 

Automation software liberates staff from routine admin tasks. With the extra time, staff can devote their energies to more value-driven tasks such as improving efficiency in their department or engaging with staff or clients face-to-face. Productivity improvements are both qualitative and quantitative.

 

More efficient

 

In the design of any automation software, you will create the processes and rules specific to your requirements. This means you have the capability of analyzing their performance and implementing refinements as required. This auditing also highlights any surplus or inefficient workflows, which can be addressed in turn to improve operational productivity and efficiency.

 

Increases accountability

 

Automation is ideally placed to offer better transparency of your processes. In the automation design, the exact rules are coded as part of the process. Any accountability rules such as legislation and compliance can be included as part of the rules, thereby ensuring complete accountability.

The automation processes can also produce records, audit trails, and alerts, which can be set to provide instant feedback.

 

Increases reliability

 

So long as automation processes are coded accurately the output will always be error-free. Previously, manual data entry is particularly prone to errors. The repetitive, mundane elements of data entry can quickly lead to boredom and inattention, and consequently, input data becomes increasingly prone to errors.

Automated data entry presents much less chance of error, resulting in remedial cost savings.

 

Optimizes performance

 

In an automation implementation, all stakeholders are usually invited to take part in the process design. Their skills and experience are invaluable in documenting the accuracy of the required input.

This involvement has a beneficial knock-on effect, where the staff feel a part of the automation process and perform better. Additionally, freed from the bulk of the repetitive admin work employees can focus on skilled tasks that benefit the department and improve business growth.

 

Conclusion

 

Implementing successful business automation requires commitment over time, as well as capital and ongoing costs. Staff need to be involved and trained accordingly, to acquire the new skills of their automated department, to enable them to provide the feedback required for optimum performance.

The transformation of workflows typically impacts different departments and teams so an element of cross-training of those parties involved. As a threat, cyber security attacks have never been more of a menace, and so with the implementation of new workflows and applications, it is vital to address the security issues adequately.

Digital transformation and automation are here to stay, and they will radically alter the workplace for the better.

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