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Tech News & Podcast | Africa

Maximize Your Efficiency: How to Choose the Right Automation Tools for Your Business

Automation is a powerful tool that can help businesses streamline their processes and increase efficiency. In today’s fast-paced business environment, automation is no longer a “nice-to-have”; it’s a must-have. According to a Harvard Business Review article, “An investment in business process automation is one of the fastest ways to improve efficiency and productivity across every department: sales, service, marketing, commerce, IT, human resources, finance, and more. Automation reduces the repetitive and monotonous tasks humans have to do by relegating those tasks to software, which usually means a better experience for customers, reduced error rates, improved compliance, and lower stress for teams. Prioritizing automation helps business leaders focus on increasing efficiency, improving results, and delivering value.

Benefits of Automation

  • Reduced manual errors: Automation can reduce the risk of human error in tasks such as data entry, resulting in consistent quality and improved compliance.
  • Vonage, a global leader in cloud communications, sought to unify and automate how its workforce and systems work together to help accelerate growth. Vonage used automation technologies to consolidate customer data, making it easier and faster for sales teams to understand the needs of customers and prospects.
  • Automation technologies enabled Vonage to simplify quote creation and management, cutting account/phone provisioning time from four days to just minutes, while also reducing the risk of human error.
  • Improved productivity: Automation can help reduce the workload of your employees by taking over tedious and repetitive tasks. This means your team can focus on more important tasks that require their unique skills, which can lead to increased productivity.
  • Rapid reactions: Automation software can parse incoming data such as emails, web forms, social media, and system data. This allows the software to alert you to things like complaints or service outages, resulting in increased speed of resolution when things go wrong.
  • Cost savings: Automation helps businesses cut costs by reducing the resources needed to complete tasks. Software doesn’t tire or run out, meaning you can get more done in less time.
  • Optimized skillsets: With automation handling the repetitive and mundane tasks, your team can put their unique skills to work. This allows them to work on the business, not just in it. Business process automation opens the way for human teams to focus on high-skill, creative tasks that further business growth.
  • Improved operational efficiency: Deploying automation software allows you to audit and refine your processes, identifying any broken or unnecessary workflows. This results in improved operational efficiency and improved efficiency of your vital processes.
  • Data-led insight: Automation software can help you unlock insights locked in the data you collect. With tools like sentiment analysis and the ability to create complex operational reports, you gain insights into more aspects of your business.
  • Clear accountability and easy compliance: Business process automation provides improved clarity of your processes, making it easy to ensure compliance with legislation. It also enables audit trials, records, and alerts, giving you a clear view of what, how, and when things go wrong.
  • Scalability: Automation software scales with your business, allowing you to add, subtract, tweak, and rewrite rules as you see fit. This means you can enjoy the benefits of automation no matter where you are in your business journey and how much your organization grows.

Business Outcomes and Expansion

In a recent survey, almost 80% of workers said that automation freed up more time for them to develop stronger bonds with clients and other stakeholders, take on difficult new projects, and pick up new skills.

Additionally, automation technologies enhance the entire work experience for employees: since implementing the technology, 84% of workers reported feeling more satisfied with their employer and nearly 90% reported feeling more content with their jobs. Automation can help improve work-life balance and combat burnout, which are important retention measures for businesses adjusting to a changing labour market.

I’ve learned best practises for implementing automation as a seasoned CIO. In order to promote growth in any economic climate, follow these steps for adopting and scaling automation tools:

  • Listen to business partners across the company and work on automation initiatives that will generate the most business value.

Succeeding with automation starts with what I call “business intimacy.” Developing an automation strategy in silos, without listening to stakeholders across the business, makes it difficult to choose the right technology and priorities for automation.

Instead, technology leaders must truly understand the needs and strategic objectives of every part of the company, including sales, service, marketing, commerce, and IT. By partnering closely with key business leaders, CIOs can help elevate core priorities amid budget constraints and deliver the right technology to achieve teams’ most pressing goals.

With efficiency and customer success as our goal, we apply business intimacy internally to support Salesforce’s transformation. We’re using automation and AI to increase efficiency and deliver transformative automated capabilities across the company. For example, we’re exploring how Slack can be used to increase sales productivity and help close deals faster by automatically delivering real-time insights to connect sellers, account teams, and cross-functional stakeholders. We use automation to drive faster decision making, streamline internal processes, improve the way we interact with our customers, and drive better performance, productivity, and profitability across the company.

  • Unlock and unify data to deliver personalized experiences.

A critical step to automating business processes and drawing useful insights from enterprise data is to bring together information locked away in disparate systems. Look for technologies that can connect and harmonize data from a variety of sources into a single platform that provides a seamless view of the business. Funneling all that valuable data into a single source of truth for each individual customer is what allows automation to enhance the customer experience by acting on intelligent insights to personalize every customer interaction.

  • Scale complex business processes quickly for faster time to value.

Building out complex, multi-departmental workflows has traditionally meant substantial investments in development and tooling. With operational efficiency top of mind, companies need low-code solutions that give anyone — not just admins — the ability to build and deploy automation quickly.

Choose solutions with plenty of off-the-shelf components that allow business teams and end users to automate any business process quickly. Solutions should also give IT the tools to build customized automation components that the entire business can use. The ability to quickly and easily automate workflows helps companies achieve faster time to value, whether by reducing case handle time, boosting conversion rates, providing faster quotes, expediting client onboarding, or streamlining order processing.

Once an organization has deployed these solutions, it can consistently quantify, track, and publish the results to demonstrate value; generate investment for other automation initiatives; develop new ideas; and stop projects with little to no return.

  • Create an environment that welcomes automation and sharing of ideas.

Automation is often perceived as a mechanism to eliminate jobs and reduce costs, but humans are essential because they are uniquely capable of managing more strategic, relationship-building work. While the intrinsic purpose of automation is operational efficiency, the health of a business is really the driving factor behind adoption. An inefficient organization will eventually need to respond to business pressures or go out of business. Automation helps protect companies from the burden of inefficiency.

Encouraging team members to think about and share ideas on ways to remove inefficiencies and eliminate repetitive and manual processes can build an environment in which employees feel they are part of the automation strategy.

A Game Changer

Automation is a critical capability for any company looking to digitally transform. As organizations adapt to an unpredictable landscape, those that invest in automation are poised to reap significant cost savings and productivity benefits, while also increasing job satisfaction, work-life balance, and employee retention. Automation that enables companies to optimize processes and deliver personalized engagement at scale is a game changer for employee and customer experience.

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