World Is Moving Towards Automation, Where Are You?
Digital adoption has been accelerating across the globe ever since the pandemic. IT roles are becoming more prominent in organizations and routine tasks are permanently automated.
According to Gartner, by 2025 half of the world population will participate in at least one IoBs (Internet of Behaviours) programme formulated by private, commercial or government organisations.
Within the next year, 40% of all enterprise workloads will be managed by cloud infrastructure and platform services. Also, 40% of Product and platform teams will be using automated change risk analysis with the help of technology pipelines like DevOps to reduce downtime and risk mitigation.
By the year 2025, half of the total enterprises will have artificial intelligence (AI) orchestration platforms at their disposal.
New terms like IoB etc. are the best example of how technology is advancing into new fields and how automation is becoming a normal part of life. IoB programmes make use of big data and IoT to influence customer behaviour. Such programs can help retailers and manufacturers to find the right price for their products and increase sales.
Adoption of automation is not limited by industry. However, the IT, service, retail, marketing, and manufacturing industry are the major sectors that are adopting automation at a faster rate. In fact, by 2025, the majority of the workforce in the manufacturing industry will be replaced by machines, resulting in 20% of all products produced not being touched by any human being before they enter the market. It is estimated that such transformation in the operational process will help organizations to lower their operation cost by 30%.
If all these data points to one thing, it is that the future of businesses depends on automation. Today, digital transformation is not a convenience. It has become a necessity for businesses that want to survive the fearsome competition and changing market.
Should you adopt automation?
Automation helps you reduce manual and routine processes. As a business, it will help you save time and cost along with improving operational efficiency. The application of automation is not limited to cutting down costs and time.
Since technology is so advanced today, you can use automation to collect data on a large scale, analyse them and make real-time decisions. Such opportunities bring tremendous advantages to a business that is competitive and analytical with its long-term goals. If used in the right way, such strategies will help a business to understand their customers better and reach the right audience to promote their products and services.
Because it is handled by technology, the opportunity to scale with automation is limitless. Manual processes will not only slow you down, but they are also prone to trivial errors. Also, the security of data becomes a bigger concern if there are more people involved.
Automation can be adopted by any business since customer support, invoice generation, payroll management, documentation, record-keeping and tracking, reporting etc. are common to all businesses and there are already stacks and tools available in the market.
What can you automate?
While customer support, invoice generation, payroll management, documentation, record-keeping and tracking, reporting etc. are the most common tasks that gave way to automation, there are other opportunities that vary depending on the objective and the nature of the business.
For example, here is a list of automation opportunities available to different businesses.
A batch is a collection of tasks or jobs that are grouped together for execution. Since they are resource-intensive, batch processes are pre-planned and scheduled overnight when the number of other processes is very less. Ever since the technology advanced enough to have more powerful resources in hand, these batch processes are executed frequently by organizations.
The best possible examples are the banking industry and the stock market. Prior to automation, all the documentation and transactions were handled manually and “closing” was scheduled weekly, monthly or even quarterly. As the technology advanced, the interval between each schedule became shorter and nowadays the closing is executed almost daily.
Automating batch scheduling helps organisations to reduce workload and human interaction. It also helps organisations to ensure that the process is executed on time.
Examples of batch process automation tools include IBM workload automation, VisualCron, VisualCron and Redwood RunMyJob.
Business Process Automation (BPA)
Business Process Automation mainly deals with sales, marketing, finance etc. BPA tools are essential for competitive businesses since they help with scaling and growth through digital transformation. Since enterprises deal with file transfer, report generation and distribution, employee onboarding, document approval etc. at a large scale on a day-to-day basis, BPA has become essential in this day and age.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic Process Automation should not be confused with BPA. RPA executes predefined tasks via user interfaces. Each RPA program will have certain rules that it follows to complete the task. Usually, RPA software is trained by a human being to execute the tasks. When ready, such programs can completely replace a human being; hence they are implemented mostly to reduce workload. Recent developments in Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence have enhanced RPA capabilities. Website scraping, screen scraping etc. are the best examples of RPA.
Big Data Automation
Big data automation is implemented to collect, organize, and process large chunks of data in a noticeably short time. It is immensely helpful in dealing with anomaly detection and fraud detection as the data collected can be used to discover patterns. Big data automation along with other technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to detect fraud in big casinos and the banking industry.
Digital Process Automation (DPA)
Digital process automation aims to facilities end to end flow of information in a business ecosystem. It integrates applications, business operations, workforce and customers of a business to ensure that data is available in real-time to all the parties involved and as a result customers have a better experience. Digital process automation is implemented knowingly or unknowingly by businesses when they undergo digital transformation. However, without due focus, the advantages of DPA will be limited in scope. The customer support portals offered by most businesses are the best examples of DPA tools.
Business Process Automation and Robotic Process Automation etc. can be limited to a single department or workflow. However, enterprise automation aims to create a single, enterprise-wide automated environment. Enterprise automation is the integration of different automation workflows implemented within an organisation. When they work in tandem, the overall efficiency and productivity of the enterprise is improved.
IT Process Automation
IT Process Automation aims to replace manual IT processes with the help of automated platforms and orchestration. It helps IT staffs to deploy, run, manage, and monitor processes using a single platform. For example, a business may implement Business Process Automation to augment its digital transformation initiative. The required IT infrastructure and process can be automated using IT Process Automation.
Infrastructure & Operations Automation
Infrastructure & Operations Automation mainly deals with the hardware and middleware of a business environment. There is a need to regularly update operating systems, tweaks configuration, and maintain optimal resource usage to avoid downtime and ensure security. An automated platform can be used for this purpose.
Businesses are moving to cloud environments faster than ever before. However, operating and managing cloud resources can still be a challenge for businesses. They must maintain a team who understands the technology to regularly monitor and configure the cloud resources as the demand and traffic can change at any time. Cloud automation aims to automate these tasks and offer a dynamic cloud environment where any changes in demand will be handled in real-time without the need for human interaction. PaaS services like AWS Elastic Beanstalk can help you with cloud automation.
How to automate?
Automation reduces workload and improves the productivity of your team. It will also help you with file management, record keeping and tracking. Even though the advantages of automation seem tempting, many businesses are still reluctant to adopt it as they fear the process is challenging.
But adopting automation is simple when planned correctly. Here is a list of steps you can follow to plan your automation process.
Evaluate your business goal
Not every business needs to adopt automation, especially if they are in the initial stages of growth. When the team size is small and the productivity is at an optimal level, the cost of adopting automation may not be justifiable for small businesses. They can use the fund to improve their product and services and augment their growth strategy. When the rate of growth exceeds the existing capacity of your team and scaling is difficult without further investment, then it is the right time to adopt automation for your business.
So, first, evaluate your short term and long-term goals and check whether automation will be the right strategy for you. If you find it is not the right time to do so, you can start with creating a digital transformation strategy first; so that adopting automation becomes easier when the right time comes.
Understand the requirement
If you think it is the right time to adopt automation for your business, then start the process by understanding the actual requirement. Start by listing down the challenges faced by your business and what bottlenecks you expect in the future. What are the workflows and areas you need to redesign and improve to overcome these challenges?
For example, customer support is one such area most new businesses find difficult to manage. Due to the small team size and the amount of enquires they are receiving, a new business that is performing well may be overwhelmed when managing customer support. However, ignoring customer queries is also not an option. In fact, attending every enquiry is crucial since you may not know which one will lead to actual sales and the value the customer brings in for the long term. Automating customer support to screen out the less eligible queries will be the best solution for such businesses.
Evaluate the choices
When it comes to adopting automation, a business can have several choices in front of them. They can either go for existing, ready to purchase software, Platform as a Services (PaaS), or opt for custom solutions. The decision should be made depending on your requirement, business goal and budget. It is better to approach an automation consultant once the requirements are well defined. That way you will get up to date knowledge on all the options suitable to you and the consultant even may help you with the whole process.
Preparation and adoption
Adopting automation is easier if your business is already operating in a digital ecosystem. If the applications and platforms you are already using are compatible with an automation solution, the process becomes easier and less costly. Also, if all the files, documents and data are stored electronically, you can shorten the time required to complete the process. Like in any other technology adoption, automation is a long-term strategy. Once the process is started, you may find new opportunities for implementation due to changes in the market or from a realization that there are other workflows that can also benefit from automation.
Adopting automation: The don’ts
While automation will bring actual benefits to you as a business, it is always best to set realistic goals. Automation is not a set and forgets solution. While it will help you to reduce workload and cost and improve productivity, security and communication, you must maintain an environment that is suitable for automated workflow. It is better to apply automation to the complete workflow, so there is no outside influence on the performance of the system. Also, automation is a tool while the actual workforce is a resource. There are areas where one cannot replace another.
The rate at which businesses are adopting automation is remarkable. While the pandemic has accelerated the rate of adoption and set a new worldwide phenomenon, automation has always been the future as it offers businesses tremendous opportunities and growth.
Are you looking for a technology partner to plan and implement your automation strategy? Reach out to our team of expert consultants!