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Automation is here, and it’s revolutionising how we work

  • Written by Marc Caltabiano, Vice President MuleSoft for Australia and New Zealand

It’s no secret that digital transformation initiatives have dramatically accelerated during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business leaders raced to buy new technology to transition to a work from home model. As the economy and international travel come back to life, business leaders must embrace the technology they’ve already invested in and continue to seek out more efficient ways of doing business morning forward.

Savings & success

Even before the pandemic hit, large organisations were leveraging automation technology to improve productivity and operational efficiencies and build better-connected experiences for their customers. Automation is the process of making a manual task more accessible and more efficient to complete or remove altogether if it's more productive to do so. Every business is constantly searching for methods to improve productivity and operational efficiency. Still, the cost savings derived from automation can’t be ignored either, with Gartner predicting operational costs will fall by 30 per cent for those that automate revamp their operational processes via automation.

In years gone by, there’s been a misconception that automation leads to job cuts. But true automation means employees are empowered to do their jobs faster and more efficiently, reducing frustration from mundane tasks and, by extension, lowering turnover rates. According to McKinsey, businesses could automate 60 per cent of back-office and administration tasks in the future. By empowering employees with automation, they can assess which aspects of their jobs require human intervention, which can be automated, freeing them to focus on their core function.

Driving results and significant ROI

With the potential to significantly reduce operational expenditure, automation has become a big business in itself and is expected to reach $600 billion in market value by 2022. However, automation is merely a process that relies on technology to orchestrate correctly. Robotic process automation (RPA) is the most popular of these technologies, with 93 per cent of business leaders expected to use it by 2023, according to Deloitte. RPA can be considered as “automating automation”, where intelligent platforms determine which processes would make the most sense to automate.

Perhaps the reason for the explosion in popularity of RPA platforms is how they enable what Gartner calls “hyperautomation.” This process involves scaling up automation initiatives across the entire organisation, automating every possible process that businesses can automate. More basic technologies like machine learning also effectively empower staff to automate processes themselves, for example, an employee programming a machine-learning algorithm to automatically process new customer onboarding instead of using a manual, paper-based system.

Barriers to automation

Automation is a powerful tool, but it comes with its own set of issues. True business automation is only possible when every employee integrates the data they generate, but concerned staff are increasingly hesitant to let go of their data. Close to three-quarters of business and IT leaders’ concerns around security stop them from integrating their data, hindering automation initiatives.

Other issues like a lack of business process skills, absence of integration skills and data silos also prevent businesses from automation. However, technology like low-code/no-code platforms is helping to instill confidence in employees. These low-code platforms allow every employee, whether technically savvy or not, to integrate their own data sets and systems with simple tools without the need for any programming experience. Organisations can also use them in conjunction with RPA and machine learning to maximise productivity and operational efficiency across the entire organisation.

If the concept of automation sounds new, then be aware that automation is already here and is coming for every industry. By 2024, close to half of all RPA customers will reach from outside the IT industry. Organisations that aren’t continuously trying to improve their business will soon find themselves behind.

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