The COVID-19 pandemic showed us why automation is important


23 Mar
23Mar

By: Rj Sotelo

If the COVID-19 pandemic happened 15 years ago, the economic repercussions would be far greater than it is today.

Banks were less automated back then. Governments were less likely to adopt advanced technologies. Many companies didn’t have a fool-proof business continuity plan (BCP), and more importantly, individuals did not have as much access to applications compared to today.

This is mostly due to the lack of automated technologies and the means to distribute them. In the early 2000’s, computers were less capable of providing automation compared to its capabilities now, while tech companies who distribute these weren’t as prevalent compared to today.

Just imagine: working from home back in the early 2000’s is a lot less likely due to the absence of smartphones, lighter laptops, and more user-friendly mobile interfaces and applications in many companies worldwide.

The same goes for locking down cities in general. With the global pandemic, countries such as China, Italy, United States, Japan, India, and the Philippines have announced total lockdown in several cities and municipalities.

The gravity of these decisions would be far greater back then, simply because it will be harder to lock the workforce (thereby locking the economy) remotely due to the absence of technologies that help people survive everyday.

REMOTE AUTOMATION AMIDST CRISIS

If there is something that the COVID-19 pandemic has told us, it is that you cannot be too prepared in establishing a continuity plan. Whether a corporation, a sole proprietorship, the government, or an individual, everyone must be well-equipped nowadays with the technology enough to sustain disruptions. Particularly, disruptions that involve the workforce.

So, how can one prepare for pandemics with this magnitude? Well, individuals have it easier than businesses, that is given they have the means and resources to afford consumer-centric technology. Many lifesaving technologies nowadays for consumers are through smartphone applications and fintech solutions.

In the Philippines, examples of these are food delivery and local fintech apps that help the everyday person buy essentials and pay their utilities.

But where does that leave businesses? Well, for companies, it’s a different ball game altogether.

One of the trending words on the internet since city lockdowns and quarantines happened is “work-from-home.” What was once a bargaining chip for many employers to their applicants has now been deemed necessary for the survival of the economy due to the mandate of governments to prevent non-essential industries to avoid communing in their physical offices.

ESTABLISHING BCP THROUGH TECHNOLOGY AND LEADERSHIP

The work-from-home setup is just part of a larger framework that a company must boast as part of its BCP. Before anything else, a strong business continuity plan must begin with the company’s policies and the executives that champion these.

Once a strong foundation is established, it must be then executed by top executives by utilizing the appropriate technology to enable workers to work digitally and remotely.

For example, for a loans and processing company, they must have a fully mobile application that tracks their field personnel, loans processes, and delinquencies without the need for paperwork. This allows them to continue payment collections and loans processing in a paperless setup.

If it is a large manpower services company, the manpower database must not be dependent on documents stored in physical boxes. Resumes, health, and government records must be intelligently stored in a repository that can be accessed and worked on by employees remotely.

Real-estate companies are no different. A property’s leasing cycle is a long and arduous process, one that needs to be tracked by the leasing manager and his team as efficiently as possible.

Relying on manual processes instead of having automated workflow systems expose the business to greater losses in productivity and sales.

INTELLIGENT INFORMATION MANAGEMENT: STANDARDIZING IT FOR YOUR COMPANY

What every business must have in their arsenal, pandemic or not, is a system where important information is digitally accessible, allowing employees to continue work in a paperless scheme. If a company’s operations is centered on paper, then it ties the productivity of the company to a tangible object that can be misplaced, destroyed, or isolated.

Not to mention, paper and other surfaces such as glass, metal, and plastic are dangerous fixed assets amidst pandemics, since it is one of the most common transmitters of viruses, with the COVID-19 virus lasting as long as nine days.

Now, when large-scale emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic happens, the information can easily be accessed by people remotely and digitally, ensuring productivity and safety. Should collaboration be needed, such as companies that route documents or files through many approvals, then that is where automated workflows enter.

BENEFITS OF AUTOMATED WORKFLOWS

Automated workflows enable businesses to seamlessly continue their operations without any disruptions. However, its real strength is doubling or even tripling productivity by removing bottlenecks caused by dependence on manual processes and paper.

Many well-equipped businesses have already established a strong automated process as their go-to framework, and not just for emergencies.

For over 20 years now, Infomax has teamed up with many world-class partners in providing Filipino companies with intelligent information management and automated workflows to help businesses eliminate bottlenecks in their process.

Equipping a strong information management system not only helps prevent business disruptions, but it also increases a company's capabilities and productivity once it has been implemented as the main framework in doing business. 

Having one in times of crises is a responsible move, but implementing it as the standard for the company boosts the business ahead of its competitors. It is a burgeoning business solution that cannot be overlooked anymore due to its benefits to both companies and its employees

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disabled many businesses from continuing their standard procedures, so maybe it’s time to automate the standard procedure and equip these businesses with the necessary automation tools -- pandemic or not. 

Disclaimer: All opinions and views expressed by Rj Sotelo are his own and do not reflect the opinions of Infomax Systems, Solutions, and Services, its executives, and staff members.  

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