Harnessing the power of automation can prove crucial in increasing a company’s ability to operate efficiently – both internally and externally. There are several ways to achieve this, but the main component is, perhaps not surprisingly – advanced technology. Whilst implementing such technologies can seem like a daunting task at first, the adjacent advantages will likely outweigh the obstacles, even for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Business Process Automation (BPA)
It appears appropriate to initiate this discussion with comprehension for Business Process Automation (BPA). BPA refers to the partial shift towards automation of essential business operations, besides the more conventional data management procedures. This process is heavily dependent on technology to alleviate the burden of certain tasks, which were previously carried out by humans. As such, companies can streamline their business operations to better tackle their demands. This is not to say that humans are removed completely from the process. In fact, following on from the ‘humans-in-the-loop’ concept, humans will still play an integral part in the process, simply with the aid of technological advances. This marked shift towards human-computer interaction (HCI), is the true game-changer of automation. BPA allows core functions of the business to be handled automatically so that human labor can be directed towards more innovation. This process must necessarily start with an understanding of both the needs and goals of the business, to properly assess which tasks are best suited to be operated automatically, and which tasks the human employee is best equipped to handle.
Now that we are familiar with the basic concept of automation, it is time to deep dive into its practicalities. It might be beneficial to start with a comprehension of Intelligent Automation (IA). Whilst there are several layers to automation, IA takes the automation process to the next level by combining the use of both Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to ensure accelerated end-to-end automation of a business. As such, even highly demanding tasks such as data manipulation of unstructured data can be automated. Furthermore, with cognitive technologies, businesses can polish existing systems to discover and mitigate faults and leaks within the system itself, thus reducing risks. As previously mentioned, this is highly dependent on the needs and goals of the business itself; SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) might find it more beneficial to streamline their day-to-day tasks, whereas multinational enterprises (MNEs) might find it more useful to explore the more advanced components of automation.
If you are still not convinced of the many benefits of automatic processes – you probably will be now. Besides its specific functionalities, automation also comes with other perks. Below you will find a run-through of the most common ones, which includes a lot of day-to-day, repetitive tasks:
- Automation is highly cost-effective; by increasing processing speed, you can also save money in the long run. For SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), this is of particular importance, as they already rely on a small workforce, and will subsequently not need to bring in more people to tackle their demands. Needless to say, it is also a great advantage for MNEs (multinational enterprises), as they too can keep their costs down by distributing more labor to the machine.
- It does not only make your business more efficient, but it also ensures accuracy – especially over time wherein machine learning can be utilized to make the system adaptable between each time it is in use. Over time, one can thus expect fewer errors and faults, by avoiding the element of human bias. Whilst this is a great advantage, it appears imperative to mention that if not used with consideration, HCI (human-computer interaction ) and AI (Artificial Intelligence ) are not freed from faults either, and should only be implemented after a proper assessment of needs and goals.
- Automation allows consistency, and helps to build a bridge both internally amongst the employees, and externally to the clients. Consistent and reliable operations are key components to any successful business, and automation helps achieve exactly that.
Where and How to Use Automation
If all this sounded a bit too abstract, you might find it useful to examine a few examples of automation, to truly understand its role as a game-changer. Automation can be highly individual, depending on your business, but there are some common features as to how it is used:
- Automation can be highly beneficial in customer experience (CX). Customer retention is arguably a pivotal part of any successful business, and several elements of this process are suitable for automation. Some key examples include accelerating both the velocity and quality of communication with the customers, for instance through the use of chatbots and self-service options.
- Effective supply chain management will give any business a competitive advantage, and automation can come in handy in this area as well. With advanced technology, parts of, or even the full supply chain can move away from manual labor and thus decrease logistics costs significantly. It is imperative to consider that each supply chain differs from each other, so choosing the right technology for your business is necessary.
- Another area of a business that includes a lot of monotonous tasks is manufacturing. With automation, you can increase production with robotic solutions, whilst also using technology to oversee and monitor the manufacturing process. A business can expect higher output by connecting the whole manufacturing process.
A Game Changer?
All the steps we have gone through so far, illustrate well how important automation can be for a business. Keeping up in a fast-paced environment can be demanding, even without all the new technological advances, and perhaps especially for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). With a well-designed HCI (human-computer interaction ) balance, automation can be a real game-changer, and ultimately help your business free up time for what is truly important to you. After identifying which areas could benefit from automatically run processes, your business could completely change the way it operates and functions. So, to sum up, what we have argued so far, innovation is crucial to any business, and automation can help get you there.