Every business is on the lookout for ways to increase efficiency and productivity to stay ahead of the competition and deliver value for their customers. To succeed in these endeavors, many organizations have shifted their focus towards automation.
According to Zapier’s 2021 State of Business Automation Report, 94% of workers perform repetitive and time-consuming tasks in their roles. When it comes to knowledge workers specifically, two out of three say that automation has helped them increase their productivity.
To better understand the value that can be gained, here's what a group of business leaders have to say about how they’re using automation in their companies and the benefits that it can yield for others.
What Tasks Can Be Automated?
Trying to decide which tasks can be automated requires businesses to take a step back and analyze which tasks they do regularly. The ideal candidates are tasks that are manual and repetitive. Take accounting, for example.
"Businesses tend to spend up to 12 hours a week on manual, repetitive tasks connected to bookkeeping which leads to widespread reporting discrepancies and human error," said Michael Astreiko, CEO of Synder by Cloudbusiness, a San Francisco-based accounting software company. "The result is that this makes it challenging to find the correct reports when the time comes. Instead, automating those repetitive tasks can free up more time to work on other things and lead to less frustration."
Automation can also help to improve knowledge sharing. According to Richard Boyd, CEO of Carrboro, N.C.-based Tanjo, an AI tech firm, machine learning software can be used to auto-generate taxonomy based on knowledge your organization already has. That means when employees create new documents, these documents can be automatically placed in the correct location.
Reducing manual data entry, generating new leads, organizing and creating documents, and managing inventory are some of the other areas that many businesses choose to use automation to help with, according to the Zapier report.
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The Business Benefits of Automation
Many tasks can be automated, but the types of tasks an organization chooses to automate will ultimately depend on the business. Regardless of what ultimately is automated, the benefits seem to be universal. They include:
Reduced Human Error
One of the challenges that businesses with teams face is that someone within a workflow might forget or be slow to do a particular task. Automation can be used to provide reminders or even remove these tasks from the workflow so employees don’t need to remember or be reminded every time.
"The benefits I’ve seen using automation tools include increased resolution times [and] reduced human error — by executing repeatable and predictable results, increased agility — which allows for tighter cohesion with other systems within an IT ecosystem," said George Carter, director of automation services at Blue Bell, Penn.-based Anexinet.
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Constantly executing the same manual and repetitive tasks is time consuming. Using automation, organizations can save employees' time and increase their levels of productivity.
Reduce Operational Costs
Eliminating human errors doesn’t just save time and increase agility. It also reduces operational costs. By automating repetitive tasks, organizations can help employees to complete other tasks more efficiently.
Automation tools mean that companies don’t need to use as many employees to perform tasks and save on labor hours.
For smaller businesses that don’t have the human resources of larger enterprises, automation can be the ultimate solution.
Startups can rely on automation tools to streamline their workflows and increase their productivity, allowing them to move faster and spend less time on repetitive tasks so that they can compete against larger businesses.
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What Does the Future of Automation Look Like?
Given the benefits it can provide, we will likely see more businesses utilizing automation soon.
"As artificial intelligence and machine learning tools become more widespread, workers are learning that the best outcomes are achieved when human intelligence collaborates, not competes, with machine intelligence," Boyd said.
Many employees may fear automation for various reasons. However, there are several things that machines can’t do better than humans. By embracing automation, companies can find the most effective ways for employees to work with such tools to improve the business.