Workflow automation offers the potential to transform your organization like no other technology before it. By defining your business processes and putting them in the hands of automated software agents, you can make your company more efficient, accurate and productive.
Not sure if workflow automation can benefit your business? Consulting firm McKinsey estimates that 45 percent of workers’ activities can be automated using existing technology. Below, we’ll discuss four of the most common ways you can use workflow automation to make your life easier.
1. Collecting big data
Big data is growing larger than ever before. IDC predicts that by 2025, the world will contain 163 zettabytes (163 trillion gigabytes) of information.
This information contains a great deal of potential, but only if your organization understands how to unlock the insights within. With more data and more sources to deal with, collating and analyzing the information you need can be a challenging task. Employees may need to log in and out of multiple systems, convert between multiple data formats, and copy and paste information into different spreadsheets.
Pro Tip: Never sacrifice convenience for security. Data loss is painful.
Fortunately, workflow automation can make the process of data cleaning and preparation much more tolerable. Robotic software agents can replace human data entry, eliminating the need for tedious, error-prone work.
2. Automating IT problem-solving
With their advanced skill set and extensive experience, your IT staff are among the most valuable resources in your business. Unfortunately, they’re not always able to use their knowledge to the fullest. Many IT departments spend more time fixing day-to-day IT problems than they do on longer-term strategic activities that can enhance your organization as a whole.
You’re not in the business of solving technical issues, so your IT staff are expending much of their valuable time and effort on low-level tasks. Instead, use workflow automation to free up your IT employees for more intellectually demanding initiatives.
Pro Tip: You can also partner with an IT support provider to give your IT staff even more time to focus on ROI-oriented projects.
Automated software agents can automatically detect a problem or performance issue, and then send alerts to the right people if they can’t fix it themselves. They can also save you money by detecting unused software licenses and enforce your IT department’s compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley.
3. Improving customer service
As your business grows, dealing with the waves of customer demand becomes an increasingly difficult task. Without well-established processes for processing questions, comments, and technical support, you’ll quickly fall behind.
Pro Tip: Neither you nor your customers should suffer in silence. Use workflow automation to make customer service easier on everyone.
While nothing replaces the feeling of talking with a real live human, workflow automation agents can help handle much of the early stages of customer service.
For example, customers can first speak with a chatbot to describe the general nature of their request. The chatbot can then make suggestions for how to fix the problem or route the request to the appropriate customer service agent.
4. Speeding up the back office
Nearly every organization needs to handle routine tasks that demand high accuracy and high speed without a high level of skill or decision-making. These kinds of activities—predictable, repetitive, but with a low tolerance for errors—are perfect for workflow automation.
Pro Tip: Consistency is key. That’s true for every area of your business.
Finance, accounting, supply chain management, and human resources are just a few of the back-office departments that can benefit from automating their workflows.
For example, robotic software agents can automate low-level financial processes such as sending invoices and making collections, allowing employees to concentrate on higher-level activities.