Throughout history, businesses have constantly looked for ways to automate processes, to save time and money whilst increasing output. Whilst the early history of automation was typically within a manufacturing context, over the past 20 years technology has enabled businesses in all industries to automate repetitive processes. In 2022, these automation technologies have become inexpensive enough for all businesses to take advantage of the benefits of business process automation. In this article we will discuss the benefits of automation, some common areas for automation and how your business can get started with automation in 2022.
Benefits of automation
Speed up processes and eliminate human error
The obvious benefit of automation is that repetitive processes are streamlined, with a solution working 24/7 to complete tasks. This frees up time for employees, enabling them to spend more time doing work to grow the business, rather than tedious admin work. Similarly, as manual data entry is prone to human error, automation ensures that all tasks are completed accurately, with no chance of human error.
Connect disparate systems and data
As businesses have become more reliant on technology now than ever before, they collect a massive amount of data from several systems. Whilst this data has the power to enable better decision making and deliver valuable insights, it can be difficult to connect the systems to unlock any insights. In 2022, many automation suites have a wide variety of connectors to enable businesses to get the most out of their data.
Businesses that operate in industries with strict regulatory and compliance demands can simplify compliance with the implementation of automation. As automation runs on exact rules, it ensures that workflows comply with any regulation. It can also help with audits and record keeping.
Areas for automation
Sales and Marketing
There are many processes that can be automated within sales and marketing to help businesses win new customers and provide better customer experiences. From a marketing viewpoint, automation can streamline time-consuming tasks, such as email communications, social media and other campaign elements, whilst building a stronger nurture journey. Most marketing automation suites connect with a business’s customer relationship management (CRM) software to store data in a single system.
A simple example of how marketing automation can work is an email registration automation sequence. This is where a prospect registers for an account on a business’s website, and they receive a personalised sign-up confirmation, with their name and details of how to use the services the business offers. With a marketing automation suite each touchpoint is recorded, and the data can be used to create bespoke customer experiences.
For a sales team, automation can be used to book meetings or demos between a sales team member and a prospective or current customer. Microsoft Bookings is available with all Microsoft 365 licenses and can enable individuals to select a free time slot and book a call with a sales team member. When the meeting is booked, it is automatically added to both parties’ calendars, saving time and enabling employees to spend more time selling and less time doing administrative tasks.
Customer service is paramount to the success of a business, and although human interaction is necessary to provide excellent customer service, automation can still help the process. A common method of automating customer service is through the use of a chatbot. Whilst poorly designed and implemented chatbots get a deservedly bad wrap and can harm the customer experience, there are solutions that can empower businesses to create intelligent conversational bots to improve the customer experience. Microsoft Power Virtual Agents is one of these technologies that enable businesses to create sophisticated chatbots that are powered by AI, with no coding experience required.
Another common customer service automation technology is Interactive Voice Response (IVR). This is a feature that allows phone callers to access information or certain departments through a menu system and can select options by using the keypad or with voice control. IVR is a powerful automation tool as it ensures that callers are quickly connected to the right department, creating a better customer experience, whilst saving employees significant time.
Internal Systems and Processes
Whilst the previous areas and examples of automation have been focused on customer relationships and experience, business automation can transform internal systems and processes for any department. In the past, it was difficult to automate processes if they involved different systems or software. Whilst this can still be the case now, it is much simpler with the use of Microsoft Power Automate.
Power Automate is a low-code automation solution that enables businesses to automate repetitive mundane tasks with hundreds of pre-built connectors. Some common internal processes to automate include holiday request forms, Active Directory deployments, approval process and employee onboarding. However, as Power Automate is such a powerful solution, it is possible to automate nearly any process within a business.
How to get started with Business Automation in 2022
As automation technology has become viable for businesses of all sizes, now is the time to stop doing mundane repetitive tasks and start taking advantage of automation. Whilst the technology is more accessible now more than ever, many businesses choose to partner with a trusted third-party IT provider to support the design and implementation of an automation solution. If you want to find out more about how your business can benefit from business automation, contact us today.