With the price of new technologies coming down, there’s never been a better time for businesses to automate tasks that used to eat up time and budget.
Just as machines and robots have replaced the traditional human-powered factory production lines, or farm labourers gathering crops in the fields, so new advances are helping businesses across all sectors.
The technical revolution improves the bottom line because it:
- Reduces manpower
- Speeds up processes and efficiency
- Allows key staff to focus more on business development or staff engagement
So, what are some key areas that are ripe now for automation?
Software advances have made easy work of just about every office-based administrative task, from advanced workforce management and payroll solutions to automated financial trading decisions.
There are now multiple tools that help HR and accounts teams with time and attendance data, payroll, access control and more, which automatically pulls in details for every member of staff. Now, real-time reports are available at the click of a button, and where payroll used to be an arduous task, often with a risk of damaging errors, each pay cheque is now calculated automatically.
A further benefit is in planning and budgeting. By using reports from time and attendance software, a business can better estimate required future staffing or shift patterns for different times of the year or various stages of a production cycle.
Many business sectors have stock, and stock control is a real headache. At least it used to be when it was done manually. Now, bespoke software is available to do it all for you. At the touch of a button, you can see how much you have in stock of any particular item.
Your system can even alert you when a particular product is getting low, and order more supplies for you.
When combined with a logistics solution for delivery, you’ll have a lean machine that frees up your staff’s time to concentrate on sales and growth.
The new technology applies to the smallest retail outlet as it does to the largest warehouse operation.
Building a remote and agile workforce
Gone are the days when your entire team had to be in the same office to work together and hold meetings. Advanced telephone and video conferencing software, project management workflow tools, and file sharing mean everyone can work quite happily in isolation, from home or any office in the world.
Flexible working, including remote working, split shifts, or flexible hours, makes for a better-engaged workforce, which in turn means a lower turnover of staff and increased efficiency.
Digital marketing and social media
Everyone wants to be across the latest developments in digital marketing and social media. But with so many strands to keep tabs on, automating as many processes as possible is key to not only freeing up time but making reporting a doddle.
For social media, using a platform like Hootsuite enables you to both listen and engage with your existing and target customers. A whole host of reporting options mean you can measure your social media impact, and compile reports easily.
Just about all digital marketing activities come with increased automation, from campaign tracking in Google Analytics to keyword performance tracking like SEMrush for SEO teams.
Automate customer service
Advances in technology are allowing businesses to offer customer service resolutions faster than ever before. Websites offer pop-up boxes encouraging instant messaging and chat, while FAQs can be built into an answer bank, so not all customers need to speak directly to an agent.
For those businesses that rely on customer contact, the latest call centre software systems ensure as many callers are dealt with in the shortest amount of time, to a successful degree.
Not everything needs to be automated
There are some things that machines or software simply can’t do, so each business needs to take a long look at which of its processes are ripe for automation, and which should remain with good, old-fashioned human endeavour.
A good rule is to look at your processes that are time and resource intensive, and prone to error, first and automate those (payroll solutions and stock control being good examples).
But as technology continues to evolve quickly, make sure you keep abreast of the latest automation possibilities within your business sector.