The good news is the ability to automate isn’t just open to larger businesses with higher budgets: businesses large or small can benefit from automation – indeed many do already almost without realising it. For example, an ‘out of office’ email is an everyday automated process used by everyone from senior executives to those running one person businesses from home.
What can you gain through automation?
There are certain key aims of automation:
Research shows reducing costs is the number one goal: lowering expenses is one element of improving profitability along with generating more revenue.
Automated processes can have a massive effect on overheads in terms of reducing costs usually in terms of cutting the number of ‘labour hours’ spent on certain tasks, so requiring less staff or outworkers, and taking people away from repetitive tasks and allowing them to focus more on activities that improve profitability.
For example, instead of having several people tied to phones handling the same queries and activities over and over, chatbots and automated email systems can take over so freeing people up.
Automated POS (Point of Sale) systems can automate an entire sales transaction from handling the payment, generating an invoice or receipt, updating the customer record (or creating one for a new customer) and immediately adjusting stock levels. Contrast this with hours spent on ‘human’ data entry, pulling off printed sales records and more in manual systems.
Naturally, a key aim of business is to improve productivity to reduce costs and boost profits. Automation can help achieve this goal by speeding up certain tasks and freeing staff up on mundane tasks so they can be deployed in other, perhaps more profitable ways.
The chatbot is taking over from mundane call handling tasks, interacting with customers on social media platforms and bots to handle basic email processing – for example, generating an automated reply to an enquiry, passing the lead on to personnel to deal with it and adding the prospect to an email list – can supercharge productivity if set up correctly.
Repetitive data entry tasks can be automated to improve speed and, again, take people away from lower value repetitive activities and vastly reduce the chances of errors such as data duplication or incorrect keying of information.
Keeping systems working
Otherwise known as ‘availability,’ it’s ensuring the important goal of keeping systems running is achieved through automation. Businesses rely on their IT systems more than ever, so they need to be up and running to meet everyday functions – without their IT facilities many businesses face severe disruption.
Centralised IT management helps bring systems monitoring under one virtual roof so making it easy for often one person checking a screen with real time reporting of the critical functions backed by plenty of automated systems ready to warn of impending issues.
Also, should problems occur such as disk corruption or outages, automated systems swing into action to back up and institute recovery procedures to minimise disruption and downtime.
Benefitting from automation
Talking to an experienced tech consultancy such as Objective can help establish what potential there is for automation in your business and the pathway to achieving it. Each business has different circumstances and requirements of automation, and your chosen technology partner can help tailor an automation project to suit your business needs.
As said earlier, you are likely using one or two elements of automation already – but you may be pleasantly surprised at what else you could potentially automate and thus benefit from improved productivity and a reduction in costs.