Is now the time for companies to invest in automation?
Automation of systems plays to the strengths of using computers. They can tackle mundane or routine tasks efficiently, without complaint, and without the avoidable mistakes that can occur when humans repeatedly perform manual tasks. Embracing automation ensures your engineers and developers can focus instead of solving problems and adding value to clients.
When should you be automating?
If you’re repeating something more than two or three times and the task is tightly defined (e.g. the data fields never change), it's time to automate, especially if the tasks are very straightforward (such as adding data to a database).
Automation is often cheaper than you think, and the efficiencies it delivers can vastly outweigh the cost. Plus if investing in automation saves someone 1-2 hours a day or week carrying out a task, that time can be reinvested in solving other problems and delivering more work.
The pros of investing in automation
An obvious benefit of investing in automation is its ‘always on’ nature. Programs don’t take breaks, even during public holidays.
Automating can differentiate your services, meaning you can add value by solving clients' challenges based on your unique knowledge and experience rather than performing mundane tasks that anyone could do. Automating routine work also gives you the space and time to tackle the harder problems – if you play to the strengths of the computer you can do 80% of the work with 20% of the effort.
The cons of investing in automation
Automation requires detailed planning to ensure the solution integrates with existing systems and is futureproofed for any future developments. This will take time from experts. Depending on your existing systems, there may also be some software to purchase and bespoke programming to complete.
If implementation is rushed and manual processes pushed through first, it could take longer to unpick things and automate at a later date. Finally, automation does not mean automatic forever - maintenance will be needed from time to time. Context changes, systems change, data changes, clocks change - all of this needs to be managed and monitored.
So, spend some time thinking about the data you’re handling. How manual is it? Are you repeatedly discovering that data is missing when someone is on annual leave and only they know how to do it? Do you find that occasionally data is missing because someone copied and pasted into the wrong column? Are you frustrated that some data is in one system but not another, meaning you can never get a full picture?
If your answer to any of these is ‘yes’, and you want to streamline your customer data workflows, get campaigns, reports and insights delivered faster, it could be time to get automating.
ManageEngine Survey Finds Global AI Use Increase
ManageEngine, the enterprise IT management division of Zoho Corporation, has announced results from its recent market study, The 2021 Digital Readiness Survey, finding that 86% of organisations worldwide are using artificial intelligence (AI) more than they did two years ago. However, only 35% of the global respondents reported that their confidence in the technology has significantly increased.
The focus of the study was to understand technological changes in a post-COVID world, in areas such as remote work, security, business analytics, and AI. It was found that organisations worldwide mainly increased their use of AI to improve business analytics (63%), increase operational efficiency (62%) and enhance the customer experience (60%). While a majority of global respondents (94%) believe that AI will meet business expectations—and 65% stated AI had delivered measurable business results—some fears remain around the technology’s performance.
“The potential for AI to improve business efficiency and the customer experience was firmly on show through 2020, with AI handling everything from increased customer service volumes to oversight of self-service processes,” said Rajesh Ganesan, vice president at ManageEngine. “While AI is being handed more responsibility and is applied in more business-critical use cases, our research shows this is a double-edged sword and that more work is needed to embrace the technology and lift internal capability to ensure AI achieves its promise.”
Is business analytics the key to success?
The growing use of AI coincides with a broader trend of using analytics to improve the use of available data and the speed and accuracy of decision-making. In the post-pandemic era, profitability and competition are also driving organisations across the world to invest in business analytics platforms and capabilities.
Business analytics is an umbrella term for several types of analytics—descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive.
The biggest user of business analytics by far is IT. An average of 63% of IT departments worldwide cited this in the survey. However, in North America, 67% of executives noted their use of business analytics, which was higher than their IT departments’ use (61%). Business areas such as marketing, sales, human resources, operations and R&D are also showing interest in business analytics but are well behind IT and executives on adoption and actual use.
Other key global findings of the survey
– A mighty 96% of organisations are planning to continue supporting remote workers for the next two years. Concerningly, the report also found that 84% of IT professionals believe that remote workers have increased their enterprise’s security risk.
– More than half (56%) of respondents stated that improving their security infrastructure is a key driver of adopting new technologies.
– 78% of organisations revealed that remote workers download software without obtaining approval from the IT department; this shadow IT mainly included mobile-specific applications (40%), online meeting tools (38%) and document sharing solutions (31%).
– 84% of respondents use more cloud services now than they did before the pandemic began. However, most respondents believe that improved security (56%), performance (52%) and reliability (51%) would increase their company’s confidence in cloud-based solutions.