The term business process automation (BPA) is almost reaching buzzword status this year, replacing Big Data and Digital Transformation from last year. This means that C-Levels will demand investment in business process automation and then sit back, eagerly awaiting the reduction in costs. The truth is there are certain processes and activities that should be automated and some that should not.
Too often we think of the debate as automation versus non-automation. For example, take self-driving cars. People talk about driverless cars all the time, driving people from point A to point B. However, sitting in traffic on a Friday afternoon, I would prefer just one specific part of my drive to be automated: the stop-and-go traffic.
Good automation projects in business follow the same logic, automating parts that are repetitive and mundane. This free’s up employees time for other, more creative work. It would be as if I had an “auto-pilot” button in my car that let me drive during parts that were fun but took over once the driving became boring or repetitive. The same is being done for activities and processes across the enterprise.
Top 3 Tasks That Are Ripe for Business Process Automation:
- Automate Report Writing: Depending on your industry, you may be spending hundreds of thousands every year paying people to write data-driven reports. These reports may be for compliance purposes, performance reports, management reports, or reports for your clients.
The truth is these reports are 70% data-driven and 100% hated by your analysts or people who write them. Using Natural Language Generation (NLG) software you can automate the 70% that is data-driven, dramatically cutting the time it takes to write these reports all while improving your employee morale at the same time.
- Automate Data Aggregation: It is amazing how many large enterprises still use Microsoft Excel as their primary business analytics tool. Not only is this a problem for data governance and data management, but it creates a huge problem with data aggregation as companies look to move beyond Excel to modern Business Intelligence tools.
Some companies try to manually aggregate data or write complex Excel macros. This is a waste of time and money. The market is flooded with affordable, high-quality data aggregation tools. Solid data government, management, and aggregation is the first step on any data-driven project and if that foundation is weak, projects may fail.
- Automate the Customer Experience: While it is true that “customer experience” is also a buzzword, how you sell to prospects, manage customers, and upsell is critical to your business. In certain industries, in-person sales and telesales teams spend their days staring at CRMs trying to make sense of the data to decide what to sell.
If you really want to automate sales, companies are using advanced Natural Language Generation (NLG) tools to automatically write pre-meeting memos. These memos can be created on demand and explain who the salesperson will meet, the company’s history with the customer, what to sell, and why.
This type of automation is undertaking a level of personalization that your sales teams wish was being done but currently isn’t. This is not for lack of trying, it’s because that expectation seems almost impossible. There are too many clients and too little time to manually provide personalized service to each customer.
In conclusion, the choice is not between automation and manual work. Automation technology, like any other, is a tool to augment our capacity. So while some people debate the value of full automation (like the driverless car), let’s look instead at the value of automating pieces of your workflow. And if there is any company out there that wants to add autopilot to my car for driving in traffic, I would very much appreciate it.