By: Rj Sotelo
Compared to other countries, the Philippines still hasn’t caught up with the business automation-frenzy that’s been trending in countries such as the United States, Japan, China, and even developing nations such as India and Malaysia.
Many corporations in the Philippines, big and small, have been relying on technology that is outdated. Some don’t even rely on technology at all and just make ends meet using manual processes or using the good old Microsoft Office bundle.
While the repercussions of not updating business technologies may seem to be marginal compared to the cost of subscribing to an automation license, the present (and future) tells us that avoiding investment in automation technology can be problematic — especially if competitors are already ahead in the game.
To give a better understanding as to why it’s important to consider investing in automation tools and applications, here are five reasons why business automation is important for Filipino companies:
1. Heavy traffic limits productivity
Perhaps one of the defining factors of both the Philippines’ growth and economic shortcomings is its seemingly insurmountable traffic problem in the nation’s capital, Metro Manila.
Tagged by studies as the worst traffic among urban cities in the world, Manila continuously loses billions of pesos due to the inability of the workforce to move efficiently. If you think your company does not contribute to that billion-peso statistic in losses, think again.
While traffic is mostly an issue to be addressed by the government, part of corporate social responsibility is helping alleviate this national problem while also converting it as an advantage for your company.
Many companies are still reluctant in establishing proven solutions that can help prevent losses and increase productivity. Perhaps one of the most famous solutions adopted by developed countries is working from home for a certain number of days per month.
While there are certain industries such as advertising that have championed these, many other industries have a hard time imagining a work-from-home setup due to the lack of knowledge in the technology that can help achieve this.
Automated workflows, collaboration tools, cloud storage, and many other business solutions are delivered and provided by many IT solution providers in the country. These tools not only help employees increase productivity, but given the right strategy and framework, it can also double sales profit.
2. It maximizes your workforce’ potential
Let’s be clear: humans are not going anywhere in the workforce. As much as artificial intelligence (AI) evolves, it’s hard to picture a company that doesn’t have innate human traits such as creativity, determination, and critical thinking.
However, these very same traits can backfire when jobs assigned to employees are ones that do not stimulate a person’s intelligence. It creates a work culture of boredom and self-deprecation, one that has long-lasting effects on an organization.
As a means to combat this, many corporate leaders believe that it’s time to give the less glamorous tasks to robots and AI instead. This perspective shows that computers will replace tasks, not jobs.
Every person, whether a marketing manager, a customer representative, or an administrative assistant, has the capability to contribute more to your company outside of doing menial tasks such as answering emails, creating reports, and scanning documents.
These people could provide more once they are exposed to tasks that make use of the three aforementioned traits that separate people from robots. Not to mention, there is untapped potential in productivity when an equilibrium is met between automation and human intervention.
Common tasks that have seen an uptick in companies implementing automation tools include: document scanning and file recognition, information management, customer communication, email, and data reporting.
3. Less errors and faster turnaround
Jumping off from the topic on tasks that automation applications can relieve off of humans, it also must be highlighted that using this kind of technology greatly reduces the possibility of human error and prolonged delays.
The math is simple. Less errors equals better quality. Faster output equals higher productivity. Many human errors are easily avoided (or even non-applicable) to automation tools because most of the time, these errors are caused by stressors.
In a developing country like the Philippines, stressors tend to be higher for the workforce compared to developed nations.
These stressors range from a variety of factors. From trivial matters such as stressful commutes due to lack of reliable transportation, to bigger health concerns such as sleep deprivation and anxiety caused by economic and social decline.
Not to mention, redundant and boring work explained earlier also contributes to the workforce' inefficiency due to the job’s lack of stimulation and growth for the person.
4. Productivity is now quantified through metrics
Let’s face it: it’s easier to quantify the productivity of a machine versus that of a human being. Actually, it’s arguably easier to manage software applications versus employees, especially since a number of Filipinos are known to exhibit work ethics that can be quite counter-productive.
Gone are performance evaluations for simple jobs such as reports generation, billing, and document scanning. Instead, you will find yourself looking at data-driven and factual reports from the automation tool itself.
Not only does this give the company a clear, transparent, and accurate report on the productivity of their business’ basic functions, but it also clears the way from inadequacies from managers on how to evaluate job performances and meet key performance indicators (KPIs).
5. A smart investment for the long haul
A good entrepreneur not only focuses on the current problems of the business and his or her clients, but also envisions how the future will develop.
For basic functions in the workplace, the turnover rate of employees is usually high. Many factors affect these, but common culprits include low wages and diminished growth for the Filipinos.
If the trend for the workforce in these areas of the business continues to be challenging, then it is important to know that consistency, quality, and reliability is at stake.
Although simple jobs in nature, there is no denying that a business cannot operate without these. This is why entrusting the job to automation tools is a smart business move.
Once a machine is in place, a business won’t have to deal with the effects of knowledge transfers, absences, and job performance — whether five years or 20 years from now.
A win-win investment for all
While the continued growth and enhancement of artificial intelligence in the workplace continues to be a hot topic for debate in both business and ethics, there is no doubt that automation software is a definitive solution for many ailing areas of a business.
Simple jobs that have little gray areas and ones without the need for flexibility and adaptation, for example, are great examples to prove why robots are here to stay.
It’s a win-win investment for everyone. The economy lessens its losses, the workforce is shielded from arduous, low-return tasks, and companies increase overall productivity and efficiency in doing business.
Automation will continue to grow, and it will continue to expand. The Philippines’ neighbors such as China, South Korea, and Japan are already ahead, and it is time for Filipino companies to join in. For the betterment of society, of business, and of the people.