Automation has been on businesses’ digital transformation agenda for a considerable amount of time. Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses must accelerate their digital transformation, specifically in regards to optimising costs and efficiency - but the question is, how does this work in practice? Members convened virtually, for an event in partnership with Conexiom, to understand the role that automation plays in building long-term business resilience.
AUTOMATION THAT ALLOWS BUSINESSES TO THRIVE
2020 has taught businesses plenty in terms of what they need to do in order to stay afloat in times of uncertainty. Productivity and seamless operations are two key elements in allowing organisations to survive in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Staying resilient is now on the top of the agenda for most businesses, and at the heart of this is continuous digital transformation.
Mark Toffoli, Vice President, Sales & Business Development, at Conexiom explained that when it comes to looking at how to improve the scalability and productivity of a business, automation is a key ingredient. Mark explained that roughly half of all trade transactions are still being carried out manually. Manual transactions come with risks of human error and customers are less likely to return if their order is not carried out 100% accurately. In the current climate, customer retention is absolutely critical, leaving no room for human error. This is where automation, specifically data-accurate touchless automation solutions, can come in and be a valuable tool for businesses. Mark presented the use case of Diversey, a company that produces cleaning products. During COVID-19, it had a massive surge in its business. Because of its implementation of touchless processes of emailed orders previous to COVID-19, it was able to scale its business and build resilience through the organisation, without worrying about how to staff it.
Members then heard from Julian Burnett, Vice President, Global Markets - Distribution Sector (UK), from IBM. Julian examined the best practices for implementing intelligent automation. He outlined the four things automation can be applied to:
- Employees spending too much time on repetitive tasks
- Not having enough staff to respond to customers’ requests
- Needing more resources to meet annual increases in business goals
- Not being able to scale the expertise of best performers across teams
It is within these four areas that automation can be applied with the most effective results. The outcomes of automating these areas are, efficiency and effectiveness, trust and control and growth and scale. Similar to the points Mark presented, these are the ways in which businesses can thrive after having implemented automation strategies. The first point is all about getting more for less, in terms of the value added by automating repetitive tasks that free up human resources for more creative work. The second is a really important element of business. Trust needs to be in place for processes that are regulated and require consistency, like customer service. Finally, growth is possible without needing to grow the employee base with automation. Therefore, that increases cost effectiveness overall.
Julian summed up the benefits of automation in three simple statistics. Automation can run 25 times faster than the human brain, it can work 24 hours a day and it allows for 75% cost savings on repetitive tasks - all of which are necessary for businesses to remain resilient and scale up effectively.
LESSONS LEARNT: CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE & INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY
Members then broke off into two discussion areas: the first focusing on how customer experience can be enhanced by automation and the second examining how reducing costs and increasing productivity are possible through automation.
In the first discussion zone, members spoke about what exceptional customer experience means and how automation can help them achieve this goal. The main takeaways were that measuring customer satisfaction is an important starting point for embarking on the automation journey. From there, businesses can measure productivity gains and ensure quality at the back-end which has a lasting impact on front-end customer service. Also, members mentioned that customers do not tend to change their behaviour, making an automation process viable for increasing customer satisfaction. Another important point was that there is often too much time spent on transactions that cost more than they are worth - a situation where automation of the process is the most logical solution.
In the second discussion group, members discussed productivity as a whole as well as cost-effectiveness. The main takeaways here were that companies normally measure output as a way to determine productivity. However, output does not always demonstrate the constraints of the business and where productivity can improve. Members collectively agreed upon their desire to put more time and effort into what the different inputs are in these productivity measures. The other notable point from this discussion was the gains as a result of time saved. If processes are automated, the free time could be used to innovate and reimagine their business: allowing employees to move from being firefighters (reacting to issues) to fire prevention workers (preempting potential problems).
Conexiom was overwhelmed by the level of engagement from attendees, so much so that it will be hosting a follow up drop in session to keep the conversation going. To register please visit this page. Anyone can attend this session, not just prior attendees, so if the topic of automation and business resilience resonates, please register. Alternatively, if you're unable to make the follow up session feel free to reach out to Maisie at firstname.lastname@example.org to review the webinar recording and access additional resources.
In general, the consensus among members was that automation, if implemented correctly, can add a great deal of value to any business process that fits the criteria. It can reduce human time wasted on repetitive, non-creative tasks as well as prevent any errors that could arise from manual order inputs. If these issues are addressed, business leaders can start to build long-term resilience into the anatomy of their organisations.
This event was held in partnership with Conexiom, a provider of 100% accurate touchless business process automation.