Automation: we’ve heard a lot about it in recent years. It’s been a recurrent topic in the operations of virtually every industry. It’s also a polarizing one. Many people both love and fear the idea of automation. Many more are intrigued but don’t know where to start.
Automation does not come with a manual, which means many of the initial questions people have about it focus on how? And when? How much to automate? How soon? Should I automate from the beginning, wait to grow my business and then automate, or automate first and use it as a tool to grow my business?
The options are vast, which means the confusion is expansive, as well.
We don’t have to get lost in automation, though. When we view it as something that can uplift and improve our businesses, we can learn to use it to our advantage.
Automation Has an Image Problem
Automation is not necessarily sexy or inspirational. It’s not as flashy as AI or innovation. Usually, automation is tied to cutting costs, removing manual processes, and decreasing errors – very utilitarian things in a tech world that’s so much flash and sparkle. Automation is also the thing that many people believe will take jobs away and leave people wondering what to do next. In short, its essence and capabilities are misunderstood.
Don’t be so quick to judge, though.
Automation is at the heart of innovation. It is also a pillar of AI. Without automation, you don’t level up to the next phase of excellence. Automation is the foundation upon which the rest of the house is built. Automation leads to innovation and opportunities.
As if that weren’t enough, 7-Mile Advisors’ recent report, The Consumer Trends & Impact
On Digital Marketing on the Market Landscape q2 2019, shows that automation drives profit, generating a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% dip in marketing overhead.
In a recent piece published in Forbes, Ron Cogburn says the following:
“Let’s say an insurance company wants to cut the labor cost of its data entry team, so it automates how documents are digitized, analyzed, and stored. Labor cost-savings happen over the short term, but at the same time, the company is creating a deep repository of client data. Eventually, it can mine that data to help drive innovation across product development, service offerings, and customer outreach efforts. What starts as a bottom-line initiative can easily turn into a top-line growth strategy.”
Automation and the Workforce
What about that fear that automation eliminates jobs? We’re here to argue a contrary point. What if automation creates jobs, putting more people to work in safer, more fulfilling environments?
At TangoCode, we’re in the business of automation. We help companies in different industries automate their operations through a combination of process improvements, software development, and tools.
And yet so many companies prefer to hire bodies and add disperse tools than invest in serious automation strategies.
Most of the time, this is due to fear of the unknown, and reluctance at the upfront costs associated with automation. After all, it’s easier to focus on what is known and to keep organizing people instead of technology. The problem with this approach, though, is that it does not generate progress.
If companies continue to see automation as an immediate gain and a quick gain only, we risk losing many of its core capabilities. Companies with a short-term focus stop at version 1 of automation when the future can be so much brighter. It is a mistake to focus on automation in the short-term since it means you do not see automation as a cornerstone for growth and innovation.
Driving Growth Through Automation
We are in a race for growth and innovation. Every company wants to be the next Amazon or Tesla – the one that will provide the most innovative solutions to its clients. Despite this, we don’t focus on capitalizing on human potential. Instead of using technology to unlock worker creativity, innovation, and imagination, we stick people with mundane, repetitive tasks like entering information from an email or a form into multiple stand-alone systems.
We make people cut and paste that information into Excel to import it into yet another system to generate reports; in essence, we are throwing money away. What most people don’t realize is that this manual repetition is more expensive than automation integration. It’s the “devil we know,” though. Unfortunately, the direct cost of the labor and the intangible cost of lost creativity and lost productivity add up. People are creative by nature, but we begin to lose that spark as tasks become more and more repetitive.
If we want to drive our industries forward, we must ensure we use our creative skills. For that, you need the machines to do the mundane tasks and prepare the data so we can access the insights to foster creativity.
Deploying Automation in Your Company
So back to the original question about what and when? Here are some tips to determine if you need and are ready for automation:
- From order to fulfillment, your employees have to re-enter information in multiple systems and validate the same information many times. This causes delays in onboarding customers.
- When you gain customers, you need to add people to your operations
- You hesitate to try a new product or offering because it means new headcount
- At any given point you cannot tell where in the fulfillment chain your orders are
- Delivering services to your customers is a new experience every time.
If any of these situations sound like you, there is an opportunity for automation. Once you get a taste of it, there’s nothing quite like the pleasure of clicking a button and watching work go through your funnel while you work on generating real human creativity elsewhere.
Ready to learn more about how custom automation solutions can improve your business? Contact the team here at TangoCode today!