The word “automation” can often conjure thoughts of a futuristic world powered by a robotic workforce, but automation has an extensive history and has been evolving to become a popular application that is used in our daily lives. From stone tools to the industrial revolution and everything in between, automation has grown and flourished to help minimize human input into tasks.
Automation is the process of making jobs typically performed by humans to be done by machines and computers. Machines can be used in a multitude of industries and sectors for numerous tasks to reduce labor. Many people often associate automation with companies, such as Ford, and other automotive manufacturers, that automate repetitive tasks like assembly lines. However, it can be used for much more than that. Automation offers a profuse amount of opportunities.
Primary, or basic, automation is the process of automating routine or repetitive tasks that are typically performed by humans. This is especially valuable in business management as workplace automated software has the ability “to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services.” Many departments such as finance, marketing, and human resources, use automated processes daily to collect data and organize teams.
Primary automation can be seen in marketing campaigns, social media, and daily operations through minimal efforts. Simple tasks like social media posts and email campaigns can be posted through software to streamline information to customers efficiently. Think about when you subscribe to a company’s newsletter, their content is most likely sent out through a system that was designed to reduce human input. Rather than employees performing timely processes like crafting and sending emails, the software can complete this task more efficiently. Thus, allowing for employees to use their time on more valuable work.
Automation in marketing allows for more personalized content. The majority of consumers are likely to buy from a brand that offers customized and relevant experiences. As a consumer yourself, you most likely appreciate it when companies treat you as an individual and create personalized messages to show they understand your wants and needs. Companies that do this can have a 20% increase in sales opportunities and a 14.5% increase in sales productivity.
Human resources is another department that can benefit from automating workflows. The process of hiring, training, and retaining employees can all be automated. Scheduling and timesheets are specific examples of tedious tasks that can be automated. This allows for human resource managers to spend their time with more important tasks, such as decision making. Many companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, use workplace automation software within HR and other departments. They gather employee and customer analytics, use automated processes throughout their hiring process and within customer support. Automation is becoming mainstream in the world of business.
In the financial department specifically, high-level technology, such as automation, has been proven to improve data integrity and standardization. Your business can save approximately 70% of finance operations costs. In general, this technology can be used for easing your workflow in HR, payroll, CRM, product manufacturing, and sales. Common frustrating task accountants face is finding the proper documents to answer customer’s questions about payment processes and status. Without a proper database installed, it is extremely difficult to do this task efficiently. With the help of AI or chatbots, the job can be automated to find documents easily or search through databases to answer questions quickly. In the end, allowing accountants to spend their time on other tasks and customers to have a positive experience.
AI & ML Automation
In the examples above, many automated solutions still require some human input and interaction. Intelligent automation can minimize the level of necessary human support, allowing more complex jobs to be automated. AI has a complex amount of uses and opportunities in business and the world around us.
Virtual assistants are used in customer service to reduce costs, labor, and time – while improving efficiency and customer experience. Inquiries can be answered 24/7 with an online chat feature powered by an AI assistant on a multitude of channels. AI assistance can pull both internal and external knowledge to respond to customers during a conversation via the website, messaging, and voice messaging.
IBM developed a computer system in 2010 called Watson, whose sole purpose is to answer customer’s questions. More specifically, it is a form of AI that was built for business “to reduce the costs and hurdles of AI adoption while maximizing outcomes and responsible use of AI.” Read more about AI and Watson’s role in business here.
Automation in Industries
Nearly every industry can, or already has, benefitted from automation. See how other businesses in your industry have utilized automation and implemented it into their daily lives:
Mckinsey recently conducted a study that concluded half of the tasks in the retail industry can currently be automated. Tasks such as cleaning and checking out are major contributors to bottleneck-related issues. Implementation of digital tools like self-checkout has helped improve bottleneck issues. However, to scale and grow, it is essential to automate processes which as a result improve employee and customer satisfaction. Walmart has invested in artificial intelligence to improve efficiency in many departments. To save time on cleaning, they have invested in ‘cleaning robots.’ The robots also can track and scan inventory while it roams the store. They have also invested in VR headsets to improve the training process. The company has reduced labor costs through investing in useful tools, such as automation.
There have been breakthroughs in the automation industry concerning the medical field. Image processing has been made easier than ever before, by using automation where it has typically been difficult to send a computer input to the automation system. Jobs like reading x-rays can be performed by machines now. When a machine ‘looks’ at the image it uses image recognition software and compares it to other x-rays to identify possible medical issues. The machine can also pull data from the patient’s medical history to help make a diagnosis.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated automation within the field of medicine as a result of limited staffing and increased hospitalization rates. Automation has played a key role in improving workflow and reducing burnout. A simple example of this is a telephone hotline. Mass General Brigham launched this to answer inquiries people had related to coronavirus. The operators could also screen for symptoms of the phone and provide care options. There are many variations of this technology implementation across the globe.
Legal automation is a specific form of automation. The software is designed to minimize administrative work allowing for workers to focus on other priorities. Examples of this technology include; e-signatures, legal triage, e-billing, and negotiation portals. Minimal judgment and human supervision are needed for these tasks, making it optimal to automate these jobs.
Despite common misconceptions, automation is more than just the manufacturing industry. Automation is all around us and in nearly every industry. There are numerous amounts of tasks in your daily life that can be automated, if not already. At Sangwa Solutions, we can create software that helps automate processes and improve your workflow. Consult with an expert today to learn how automation can help benefit you.