Business automation gets a bad rap. Type the word “Automation” into Google and the search engine spits out this example: ”unemployment due to the spread of automation.” Robots are nevertheless already alive in enterprises. Here’s how to tame the machines and keep your enterprise automation under control.
While society tends to focus on the negative aspects of automation, enterprises have much to gain from its adoption. When implemented correctly, automation assists humans by reducing or removing their most time-consuming tasks.
Yet, a fully automatic anything is a scary thought for business leaders. What about process control? How can enterprise executives remain in the driver’s seat when more tasks are being outsourced to automation?
What is process control?
Process control is exactly what it sounds like: the process of controlling an operation’s output within a set range. In other words, the science of creating predictable precision.
To understand how to improve the system, someone (or some machine) must monitor it to see what needs repair or refinement. Thus, automation pairs nicely with continuous supervision.
Without process control, enterprises escalate into chaos. Because the steps within the process are arbitrary, they will differ. As a result, the company’s product(s) risks inconsistency. In other words, poor process control threatens an enterprise’s largest asset: its brand.
How enterprise automation improves process control
“Tasks that cannot be substituted by computerisation are generally complemented by it,” said David Autor, MIT economist.
While automation outsources a task, or a portion of a task, more automation does not mean less control.
Understanding how to identify opportunities for business automation is the first step enterprise leaders must take to turn their company from a mostly-working machine to a well-oiled one. Successful implementation of automation will be the difference between status quo enterprises that continue to lag behind fast-growth startups and agile enterprises that choose to automate, analyse, and iterate to remain relevant. Those that dismiss automation are at risk of being left behind.
Successful implementation of enterprise automation leads to increased revenue and retention by streamlining operations into three simple, repeatable steps:
- Business leaders architect the process
- Automation helps carry out the process
- Managers, engineers, and analysts work together to monitor and enhance the process
Because employees are no longer required to execute certain tasks, they can spend more time analysing the data and using those insights to improve processes—saving enterprise leaders and employees valuable time and energy better spent augmenting than inputting.
6 ways to control your enterprise processes after introducing automation software
- You control the message
Email marketing is a prime example of how automation drives big results for companies, boasting a 4400% ROI with $44 for every $1 spent. Now, that makes sense for B2C and eCommerce brands, but savvy enterprises are using a similar formula to follow up with B2B clients.
For example, emerging SaaS automations are redefining business operations ranging from corporate expenses to collections with personalised, segmented email automation. While the process may be automated, the output is always limited to what you choose.
- Segment messaging as needed
Automation tools allow brands to develop separate distribution lists and messaging strategies for different customers. These segments represent each buyer persona and help companies cater to unique needs.
By visualising the customer journey throughout the process, you remain in control. Customer segmentation allows enterprises to gain profitable customer insights and adopt marketing funnels with segmentation.
- Personalise for better impact
Letting go of 1:1 communication, where appropriate, can feel unsettling at first. However, sophisticated personalisation allows you to continue tailoring your message to your audience.
Automation softwares lets you craft the same story, personalise with name, and even swap out services according to relevancy. You can deliver the message using the same medium and follow up the same way you would in person.
Put another way, the combination of segmentation and personalisation options allow you to send targeted messages to a targeted audience in a more efficient way. The main change is the distribution method, not the message.
Using personalised, omni-channel outreach and self-service solutions, you reduce unnecessary friction and put the customer first.
- Gain insights from analytics (and optimise)
Most modern automation technologies feature visual dashboards, some better than others. When comparing automation software, consider tracking driven by behavioural segmentation and artificial intelligence (AI). Leveraging these technologies can give business leaders instant access to open rates, click-through rates and payment conversions.
Measuring and analysing every interaction during the customer journey in real time allows you to identify hurdles to and drivers of high-performance in your collections process.
- Retain control to update for compliance across channels
Corporations are heavily scrutinised and regulated, especially in the financial sector. Staying on top of compliance standards is difficult and staying ahead seems impossible.
Automation may appear to be a threat to this. Such perceptions stem from a lack of full understanding. You as the architect of automated workflows know how and where compliance is important. Used correctly, automation softwares need not be a threat to compliant business processes. They merely aid and assist you in what you are already doing.
Remember: the tools don’t tell you what to do, it’s the other way around! By simply constructing the automated workflow around compliant manual processes, you digitise and speed-up established compliant processes.
- Document and visualise the customer journey
Clarity is key. If you are clear in your understanding of what your customers want, that gives you power. Before you subject them to the effects of an automation software, always have a clear idea about what your customer is going through and what they ought to go through.
This clarity will go a long way in what you dictate the software to do. Automation may make sending several payment reminders both cheap and fast, but is that what you want your customer to experience? Would you suggest an agent to call someone over 10 times a day?
Knowing and planning the entire process before hitting the ‘go’ button is key for success in workflow automation.
The ROI of automation in finance
50 percent of finance and insurance work is devoted to collecting and processing data, according to McKinsey & Company. As a result, the financial sector has the potential to automate 42 percent of time-draining activities and can mostly automate a further 19 percent using today’s technologies.
As for the actual ROI of automation in the financial industry, businesses can save approximately 70% of finance operations costs, have faster turnaround times, fewer errors and less human intervention, based on interviews with companies that rolled out leading edge finance automation solutions.
Some overdue opportunities for automation in the financial sector include:
- Customer billing,
- Financial planning,
- Accounts reconciliation,
- Processing supplier invoices, and
- Debt collection
“If you can’t send a bill to a customer or you can’t send a check to an employee, all of those operations basically halt,” said Mr. Heric of Bain in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. “You’ll struggle to close the books if there’s a lot of manual things that are going on.”
Conversations around remote work—and its forced adoption—have been trending amid coronavirus, but business automation has been steadily gaining steam for the past five years. Progressive businesses should view automation as an investment opportunity. Those who continue to ignore its imminence risk being surpassed by forward-thinking competitors.