By Rj Sotelo
Automation has been around in the early 1940s when Ford created an automation department for automotive development. Ever since, automation has evolved throughout the years and has seen a boost in application towards many business functions. Gradually, it has been applied to multiple industries with varying needs based on their business operations.
However, there are three key business areas where automation should be present in any kind of company.
Whether you’re managing a construction company, an e-commerce shop, or a legal firm, investing in automation is key in providing the best opportunity for success for your company.
Below are the three key business areas where businesses should invest in automation:
1. Customer Experience
Have you seen a McDonald’s branch where the ordering system is now done through a self-ordering kiosk? How about Summit Media’s titles such as TopGear, Esquire, and Cosmopolitan becoming more accessible by fully going digital versus making their customers buy physical copies? Or Grab Philippines implementing GrabPay to help riders save more?
The value of customer experience is at an all-time high because this generation of consumers is much more demanding due to the influx of information and the interconnectedness of society. When Amazon, the largest retailer company in the world, champions customer experience and displays it, consumers would expect other global giants like Apple, Microsoft, and many more to follow suit.
This creates a trend among the medium and small enterprises to follow as well, because consumers can now see trends in the world through a smartphone. Nowadays, customer experience could be the deciding factor between you and your competitor.
Whether you’re a small or large company, having an automation tool to streamline your customers’ experience is vital in improving your service. For example, financial firms like banks would need a good procedure in opening accounts for their clients.
Having a Customer Communication Management system would be crucial in keeping things effective, efficient, but effortless. Management systems like these typically automate arduous tasks such as filling out forms, reports generation, data entry, and even advanced ones like portfolio review and assessment.
Not only does it provide better customer service, but it also greatly reduces time spent on low-return tasks.
2. Information Management
Ever spent more than an hour each working day trying to find your important file in 20 or so folders in your computer? Whatever industry, an influx of voluminous information is always present in a business.
When we say information, we mean anything that has data which is of value to your company. A client’s profile summary is an example of information. Your suppliers’ terms of payment is also information. The lead form that your newly acquired customer filled-out is another form of information.
Managing your business’ information effectively can create a myriad of opportunities to grow the business. This is where an automation application such as a Document Management System (DMS) or Enterprise Content Management (ECM) comes in.
DMS, ECM, and Content Services platforms are applications that store, manage, and govern your information based on how you see fit. These apps can intelligently find documents by determining what it is instead of where it is. using artificial intelligence (AI).
It is not just limited to that, however. Because these DMS applications can also provide your business with automated workflows. Automated workflows allow your employees to collaborate on a document that needs to be routed real-time, while ensuring your standard operating procedures (SOP) are followed based on a workflow custom to your company.
For example, if your Sales Associates need to work on a proposal, then they can access a draft template through the DMS application and work on it. Say your procedure is that they need it reviewed and approved by the Sales Manager, then the document will route for approval to the assigned manager.
If rejected by the manager, then it will be sent back to the associate. If approved, it can be routed to the next person such as the General Manager for an e-signature.
These are one of the basic features of the application. However, due to its growing demand, many companies have adopted advanced additional features such as solution templates and compatibility with other business applications.
3. Administrative Tasks
A business loses a lot of time due to the presence of repetitive tasks that are needed to accomplish a certain function. These tasks include filling up forms, consolidating data, sending online chat messages, billings, and more.
Repetitive tasks that don’t leave a lot of growth and require no critical thinking eat up a lot of the workforce’ time. As managers and entrepreneurs, it would be best for your workforce to do things that can hone skills, improve competency, and widen knowledge.
This is where automation, particularly artificial intelligence and machine learning, come into play. AI-backed systems that focus on eliminating human intervention for simple administrative tasks have business cases centered on productivity.
Among the available technologies, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is at the forefront of boosting work productivity by automating manual processes.
This is not to say that employees who focus on these menial tasks will be replaced. Instead, RPA tools provide businesses with digital assistants that improve the quality and speed of simple workflows.
Recurring tasks such as scanning documents, compiling files, and consolidating data usually makes the business vulnerable to human errors. Large volumes of repetitive tasks everyday could eventually wear out an employee and dampen their focus on work.
With an RPA tool, everything is done faster and more accurately. It’s two-pronged approach (accuracy and efficiency) to administrative tasks allows companies to boost sales and revenue thanks in large part to their workforce being more productive in things that robots can’t do — like devising marketing strategies, improving operations, and conducting sales presentations.
Technology with a soul
A new decade has arrived and technology continues to evolve. Responsible businesses should always be on the lookout for trends in technology, because having systems and applications could very well be the deciding factor between them or their competition.
Automation is a hot trend for this year and the upcoming decade, because as both customers and employees demand more, one of the most cost-effective ways that a business can do is implement tools that will eliminate corporate bottlenecks, empower employees, and create a bridge of trust to their clients.