Automation and Innovation. At first glance, these two words referenced in the same sentence could understandably be seen by some as a paradox. The irony is that one can create capacity for the other. The challenge lies in the inability of some businesses to leverage the newly-found free time created by automation into innovation. And that innovation comes in many forms; from more face time with clients to developing new products and business solutions.
Not every office process needs to be automated. The best candidates for automation are redundant processes that require a significant amount of time and are resource intensive. Contract filing, employee onboarding, travel expense reimbursement, and authorizing PTO requests are good candidates for automation. The time and resources saved can be leveraged to perform tasks that require a higher degree of thinking, problem solving, and innovation.
Within All Covered, the IT service division of Konica Minolta, our mantra is to review every task and determine if it adds value. If it’s a chore, automate it! Automation and scripting (coding) coupled with AI is known as Intelligent Automation and that combination is how you truly maximize efficiency.
Often, however, companies fall into the trap of not effectively using the time gained from automation. For many, automation creates the Parkinson’s Law trap, which is the notion that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. In other words, give someone more time and they will fill that time with the work they already do. Therein lies the challenge of bridging the gap between automation and innovation.
For example, automating a recurring task that would take 3 hours to manually complete into a 10-minute effort saves 170 minutes of valuable time. However, if the time saved is not used productively (call a client, close another deal, etc.) the efficiency of automation cannot truly be realized.
The role of employees within a business will also evolve in the world of Automation and Innovation. I believe, at some point, nearly every employee will need to have the skills to build automation, write their own “code”, and contribute value-add efficiencies to the business. Providing this training and cultural mindset will eliminate the dependencies on programmers and application development departments to create automation. It’s the next generation of digital native employees.
Business process automation, carefully selected, can maximize output, add value to the organization and free up employees to attend to more productive tasks. Remember, it’s as important to measure how time saved is used as it is to create time saving automation in the first place. If only time is saved… you forfeit the advantage that automation has provided. Automating business processes is essential to a company’s digital transformation, delivering on the promise of improved customer experience, and increased productivity. All Covered can help with automating these tasks, allocating more time to the ‘human touch’ that businesses need to grow a loyal and satisfied client base.