The power of automation for modern-day business is unprecedented. The rise of smart technology has created an avenue for businesses to thrive and succeed rapidly and more efficiently than ever. While the advantages of automation may be the employee’s disadvantage, businesses can nevertheless incorporate the technology into the daily routine of staff. In the modern age of automation, successful businesses will be able to integrate both technology and staff to create a highly efficient workplace.
In a report undertaken by technology consultancy firm Capgemini, 1, 000 office workers were surveyed on their attitudes and expectations of cutting-edge technology, including automation, artificial intelligence and robotics. It was found that 40% of respondents are optimistic of smart technologies, expressing that machine learning and robotics will impact the workplace positively. The same percentage of respondents also expressed that business tasks could be automated in 3 to 5 years. Such business tasks could include reporting, administration tasks, invoicing and expense claims. The survey found that about 13% of British businesses are currently benefitting from automation, however, it is expected that this number will rise within the next few years.
There are numerous benefits to automation, however it is important that companies equally examine the disadvantages in order to determine whether automation is suitable for the company at this stage.
There are several key benefits to implementing automation in a business, a primary benefit being improved organisation. Where automation is employed by businesses for simple tasks, such as invoicing, administration, printing, reporting, and simple payments, employees are able to focus their skills and spend more time on core issues at hand.
Another benefit includes the fact that business communication with clients is centralised through an automated communication system, where past customer interactions are easily accessible. This allows staff to quickly retrieve data on previous communications and manage customer queries as soon as possible.
Finally, automation also allows for an increase in visibility of company data across multiple departments. Employees will be able to edit and manage documents, spreadsheets, accounts and other relevant files simultaneously, as data can be accessed and edited at one time by multiple staff members.
Due to the ability of automation to fast-track simple tasks and allow employees to edit documents simultaneously, automation allows businesses to achieve a faster turnover time. Through automation, tasks are constantly progressing and can be completed at a more efficient rate.
There are several drawbacks to the use of automation, which are primarily based on the time and cost of implementing the system. The cost of implementation is a significant barrier as the processes that require automation are often unknown to businesses.
The time needed to implement automation is another barrier, as the integration may affect work processes and could require additional skills and expertise.
While respondents of the Capgemini survey were optimistic on the topic of automation, 73% were uncertain as to whether their companies had adequate infrastructure in place to be able to adopt artificial intelligence. A significant barrier to many companies is the initial task of establishing automation, which means businesses should spend time assessing the infrastructure needed for future implementation of AI and automation.
Another challenge posed by automation is the task of monitoring the automation once integrated. As a significant change to business process, it is important to monitor the performance and success of automation as compared to traditional processes.