Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
4:00 AM 4th September 2021

Saturday Essay: Automation: A Digital Transformation

Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay
Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay
A growing number of businesses are now utilizing new technologies such as automation to increase efficiency, productivity and save time. It was discovered that more than 30% of global employees feel they waste half their day or more performing mundane and/or repetitive tasks. Many recognize automation as a 'digital twin' at work who can take over their labor-intensive tasks. Automation technologies are useful and extremely applicable to both digital and brick-and-mortar businesses.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay
Prior to COVID, automation was on the rise. General tools and technologies were advancing. People are attempting to automate more and more things – tasks that might be given to a virtual assistant. They are tasks that can be repeated simply enough for digital technology. Brick and mortar businesses now have robot delivery cars on the streets. They deliver food or items from a convenience store to people for the companies essentially making it cheaper for the customer and for the business. There is mostly no risk for the business and the digital company makes a lot of money off of this because they don’t have to pay for or worry about delivery drivers.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay
Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay
The restaurant business is also impacted by automation. Technology is taking over the roles of cooks and burger flippers because tasks such as these are repeated routinely. Perhaps bartenders will be replaced with robots as well. The drinks made would be a lot more consistent.

However, some people would still yearn for human interaction in some cases. If the job doesn’t require people interacting, such as the back of the house employees, they can be replaced with robots to carry out the same job and better. Using robots to take on these tasks is a lot more consistent than relying on a human who is capable of error. Business owners also don’t have to worry about employees showing up on time, attitudes, nonsense, and it is far cheaper. It is greatly beneficial for owners to consider these options.

It is always a struggle trying to complete everything that needs to be done in just one workday. 'For small business owners, there truly are never enough hours in the day. However, one way they can free up their time is by embracing automation.'

Automation saves valuable time that can be used to focus on other important aspects of their business. Repetitive tasks such as responding to common emails, sending recurring invoices, and processing payroll, etc, just drain time.

'More than a third (40%) of business owners said bookkeeping and taxes are the worst part of owning a small business. Solutions like QuickBooks saves an average of 25 hours per month by connecting to all of a small business’s accounts and automating this bookkeeping and tax work.'

Image by Jae Rue
Image by Jae Rue
By using this software, business owners now have more time to grow their business as well as coach and train their employees.

When the pandemic began, automation accelerated. People were anxious about the COVID virus and did not want to travel to or work at their job site. They were also being paid not to go to work. Unemployment made it possible to collect similar or better paychecks. This forced innovation further. Business owners had to think about what to do and how to continue their businesses. They had to reinvent themselves by incorporating these technologies.

Klaviyo, a customer data and marketing automation platform, is ranked one of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world. They were recognized by Forbes, Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures for their growth, the culture they’re creating and the impact they’re having on their customers. Funding for their company went from $200m to $675m in just six months. Klaviyo markets its automation capabilities to help small businesses pivot to online commerce after the pandemic forced many brick and mortar locations to close down. It is crucial for businesses to reimagine the tools that are needed to ensure working from anywhere is a sustainable, long-lasting solution. Digital transformation is the new key to success for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Automation may solve a lot of problems but there are many non-technical workers who may look at automation as another challenge. Low- or no-code development platforms have addressed this exact problem. They offer 'drag-and-drop tools that allow non-technical workers to automate processes and engage with digitization without having to understand the finer points of programming.'

As the use of automation in the workplace becomes more common, it has been predicted that '90% of large organizations globally will have adopted some form of RPA (robotic process automation) by 2022.' Companies are just starting to get back on track since the pandemic began and diving too far into digital transformation may not seem like the easiest option. Low- or no-code development platforms haven’t given companies an easier way to transition.
Athan Slotkin
Athan Slotkin
Athan Slotkin is a serial entrepreneur and award-winning business plan strategist. He’s successfully tested and launched multiple businesses, across industries. His rapid, iterative, heavily-analytical approach has been the key for over 700 new entrepreneurs in 2019 and 2020 alone, helping them package up their business with business plans, financial models and presentations, while teaching them how to become the stellar CEO they want to become along the way. His work has been featured across, TV, radio, and conferences worldwide.

Creatio is one of these no-code platform companies. 'Headquartered in Boston, with 650 employees worldwide serving 100 countries, Creatio found that they also needed to ‘double down on automation to maintain the efficiency of our processes,’ says Kostereva, while also ‘hiring new remote employees since the start of the pandemic’ to keep up with demand.' With an increase in their customer base and headcount, Creatio implemented their no-code approach which was needed to 'capitalize on agility and speed.' Onboarding new remote employees and dealing with an increased customer base was made easy by no-code processes.
Low- and no-code tools do not require detailed programming knowledge, however, it is still very helpful to have a creative and an agile mindset. Businesses must be careful when selecting no-code developers. These skills and attributes are useful to everyone, but it is important to have developers with the right skills and knowledge for a successful digital transformation.

Image Pixabay
Image Pixabay
Though automation is very helpful, as mentioned previously, the human touch is still very important. Businesses need to understand that first-impressions have quite the impact. Giving your personal attention to new customers and clients is critical to building a solid relationship, establishing a rapport and building trust, before introducing automation. Addressing customer problems, in most cases, also requires the human touch.

For example, in cases where a time-sensitive problem arises, clients and customers need a personal contact and not an automated response. Lastly, employees need to be recognized and appreciated for their hard work. '69 percent of employees claim they would work harder if they felt their hard work was better recognized.' The only way to truly relay your appreciation is through personal communication and not through an automated process.

With technology on the rise, everyone should be developing, learning, and improving their skill sets. Change always exists and you must be able to adapt. Business owners must understand and integrate technology and automation to be competitive. This is the best business practice to generate the most profitable businesses that manage well.
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