As companies look to reinvent their internal business operations moving forward, many are looking for ways to future-proof their operation against potential future crises. One of the best ways to do so is to lean on a unique combination of automation and human expertise. Learn how automation can help your business adjust for the future.
The coronavirus pandemic was a wake-up call for many businesses. As companies had to adjust to quarantines and remote work on the fly, many long-established business processes were shaken — and some never recovered.
Modern, tech-driven automation has been taking place for decades. As the 21st century progressed, this evolution began to increase exponentially. At the same time, it branched out of many sectors of the market and began to impact nearly every area of business with new software applications. The pandemic served to enhance this dependency on automation, software, and tech solutions even further. Both individual departments and even entire companies that traditionally utilized minimal tech suddenly found themselves leaning on it exclusively.
For instance, marketers found themselves turning to digital marketing options in increasing numbers. Businesses great and small began to set up online marketing strategies, many of which revolved around automation. Email, social media, and many other digital marketing activities can implement significant levels of automation, all of which began to be utilized by marketing professionals across the board to increase their productivity.
Another good example is in human resources (HR). Before the pandemic it was possible to use automation to do things like:
While they were available, these options were not fully embraced until after the crisis began. Then, as the mass migration to remote work took place, HR reps found themselves suddenly welcoming these automated policy management options with open arms.
Automation had a great year in 2020. It showed its mettle as professionals across the globe leaned on machine learning and AI solutions to keep their businesses running throughout the pandemic. However, the sudden excessive use of automation also served to highlight another critical factor: how important the human touch continues to be throughout business transactions.
Sales is a great example of where the human touch remains imperative. During the pandemic, many traveling salesmen and women found themselves grounded. Stuck at home, they continued to conduct appointments online via video chats and phone calls. No matter how much they leaned on technology, a human sales associate remained a critical part of the process. No amount of automation could fully write out the need for a human on the other end of the connection.
The same goes for many other areas of business. To use the previously touched on HR example, while automation was feasible, in many workplace scenarios, HR reps were absolutely necessary to continue helming the larger operation. They were needed for creative activities like updating procedure manuals along with unique responsibilities such as managing employee issues and requests.
Both automation and human expertise have made compelling arguments as business necessities of late. However, the true magic takes place when you stop comparing the two and combine them, instead. Take accounting — an area where automation and human activity have both remained clearly essential — as the perfect example.
On the one hand, the demand for accountants is growing. Improving economic conditions and a rapidly retiring workforce have opened up the need for accountants, auditors, analysts, and financial experts of all kinds. On the other hand, while the demand for humans is there, it doesn’t mean they’re needed to do everything.
Take payroll, for example. Countless platforms can help automate payroll activities at this point. Paychecks can be instantly deposited in bank accounts, earnings can be tallied, and taxes calculated, all at the push of a button. Even cutting-edge options like earned wage access apps — where employees can track and withdraw their earned money at a moment’s notice — operate with automation that continuously calculates earnings with nary an accountant in sight.
This automation is important to business and has many benefits. It can mitigate compliance risks, improve accuracy, reduce costs, and save time. And yet, this doesn’t make an accountant irrelevant. On the contrary, overhauling and automating finances is an essential part of modern business, but it doesn’t change the fact that you can set it, but you can’t forget it. Any automated system still requires oversight and guidance as it operates over longer periods of time.
On top of that, a truly automated activity doesn’t write out the need for a human. It merely frees them up to focus on more human-oriented activities. In other words, both automation and human expertise have a place complementing one another as they work side by side in the modern work world.
Both automation and human expertise have shown their worth in the modern workplace. The former already has and continues to find new uses every day. At the same time, the need for human creativity, vision, and innovation remains a key to success.
Professional training, wisdom, and experience can all impact an organization in ways that an automated system cannot. True synergy, resilience, and success come when both of these solutions are implemented together. When this happens, it can result in a business that runs efficiently, is remote-friendly, is fueled by innovation and experience, and is ready for any crisis that may strike in the future.