Growing a manual business is like racing formula 1 drivers on a bike – it’s clumsy and way too slow. Regardless of how skillful and experienced you are, your chances of winning are as thin as a rail. With today’s business world moving at a lightning speed, automation is the only way to keep up the pace.
Here’s how to use it as a fuel that propels your business forward.
A Quick Look at Where Automation Is Headed
Automating business processes is not new – first, we took our faxes online and mastered electronic signatures, and then we’ve learned how to work and collaborate through the power of API-supported tech – but modern-day digitalization is a whole different story. It accelerates, innovates, and disrupts.
So much so, in fact, that it completely redefines the philosophy of business.
The advent of “if-then” algorithms for commercial use has brought an increase in speed, but also in efficiency and accuracy. Today, smart companies rely on these tools to manage virtually every aspect of business in an operational and strategic way; to improve, and then optimize every menial workflow.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen businesses big and small pivot to agile digital models and implement robotic process automation tools like chatbots, thus leveraging both artificial intelligence and machine learning. They boost back-office practices, customer experiences, and decision making.
New, game-changing practices that put repetitive processes on auto-pilot, simultaneously freeing up employees to focus on burning issues, and saving time, money, and effort needed for strategic growth. On top of that, access to big data and business intelligence that reshapes the core of problem-solving.
What are the Best Practices?
Today, a typical day at the office starts by checking the main workflow system, featuring both individual and collective hubs that resemble the olden times’ whiteboards. Routine tasks and projects are already lined up, neatly awaiting the employees to click the button and begin crossing them off.
But daily to-do lists, automated recurring tasks, and centralized hubs that enable not only instant access to information but also real-time collaboration are only one part of this process. Digital assistants, sophisticated BPM systems, and AI-based analysis elevate this bundle to yet another level.
Taken together, all these tools and practices create a holistic approach to everyday business processes that implies interdepartmental cohesion and leads to customer success. But, the fact that everything can be automated doesn’t at all mean that it should – at least not without a foolproof plan in place.
The entire point of automation tools is to make work easier, after all.
With this in mind, business tech experts advise companies to let actual employees, as users of yet-to-be-implemented systems, to test and apply new solutions. They warn against automating outdated processes without evaluating them first, and caution CIOs to always plan ahead and think long-term.
Automation in Customer Support
No matter how many moving parts a business process may have, automation still needs to be gradual. This is especially important for departments that merge back-office routines with front-office practices, thus tackling data management and teamwork in an effort to unlock full customer success.
Consider customer support, for instance.
In this department, employees are compelled to joggle product and customer data in order to provide consistent and personalized solutions, while simultaneously handling recurring tasks like ticket resolutions and follow-up emails. The service, of course, needs to be fast and reliable around the clock.
Automation can help customer support reps in more ways than one. First, by streamlining their daily workflows with CRM systems and collaboration tools, so that their productivity isn’t diminished by constant switching of tabs and looking for information. And second, by employing AI digital assistants.
Chatbots can provide a level of efficiency and responsiveness that is not humanly possible. A single bot can do a couple of reps’ work without ever experiencing burnout, and remain accessible throughout night shifts and time zones. Thanks to machine learning, you only need to train them once.
All this makes digital assistants very fast, but also satisfies the modern demand for self-service options without ever compromising personalization. Working side by side, AI and data management guarantee frictionless experiences for customers and powerful aid to reps, but also actionable insights to CEOs.
Should You Automate Finances?
By all means, yes.
Accounting and bookkeeping had long relied on spreadsheets and calculators to deliver systematic accuracy, but this way of crunching numbers had always been flawed by the human factor. Long work hours led to discrepancies and errors, resulting in expensive damage control and more work hours.
Fintech has luckily changed all this. Automating finances is a necessity, and not only because it makes closing the books easier. It also makes it far more accurate and frequent, which provides cross-functional insights and enables timely risk assessment. And, all of this in service of strategic thinking.
When it comes to finance-related departments, automation can help you reach beyond traditional metrics and gain insight into forward-looking KPIs that make your business profitable. Not to mention, of course, the streamlining of processes such are budget approval, asset purchase, or vendor payment.
What Does the Future Hold?
The implications of these models, tools, and practices are far-reaching, though the future of business automation is happening right now. With robotic process automation exploding as we speak, it’s safe to say that organizations will only continue to employ smart technology that trumps human potentials.
The next phase of this evolution is, as many predict, total automation.
The notion of a fully automated business in which human employees would be relieved of all manual tasks, and thus allowed to focus exclusively on strategic work and innovation, is already catching a lot of buzz. We have all the required technology; now, we just need an infallible framework for execution.
A year of real world time equals a second in technology development. The pace at which our businesses operate will speed up again in any moment, so don’t lag behind. Start automating now, while you still have some time to do it gradually – any other day might already be too little, too late.
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