What are the benefits to companies of using technology in the workplace? In this article we will go through some of the more pragmatic and real-world scenarios where technology, software, cloud and AI can improve workflow, speed and efficiency in an organisation. Termed BPA or Business Process Automation it covers how technology automates complex business processes and functions usually more than just data entry, storage and record-keeping but more advanced processes and tasks.
Disadvantages of Technology in the Workplace
Of course, it is not all good, let us cover some of the drawbacks and pitfalls first so we can have a balanced view of what technology can do.
- Expense, Resources and Complexity
Undoubtedly it can be expensive and complex for the development resources to uncover user requirements, design, test, deploy and maintain software systems. Any development now needs time to manage the rollout and money to invest in the team and capital costs. If it gets more complex, a project manager is needed too that may have to be an external hire or a reallocation of some internal staff to oversee the project.
The process being automated is usually complex, otherwise it would not be worth automating, so the unpicking of what stages are involved, the intricacies of human involvement and “what-if” scenarios will add to the development time and cost. Systems and automation are great at repetitive tasks but may not be able to handle new scenarios that crop up from time to time. These occurrences may require a staff member to step in and be allowed to override or manually control the process.
To fully replace someone in a process, the automation must be able to replicate all the manual tasks or at least allow some interface for humans to get involved if needed. So, the UI or user interface is also important and must have access and ease of use for staff to use.
- Security Breaches
A risk of having systems and processes digitised is that it becomes vulnerable to downloading, hacking, accessing and downloading. Every day, professional hackers target companies to extract data and financial extortion. So, there is expense and resources in tightening up security, and for threat intelligence solutions, and having a security policy for staff and partners so, that vulnerabilities are mitigated against. Software such as anti-virus, anti-spam is required to be installed and devices and networks constantly scanned for any malware.
Those are the problems of business process automation, now let us see what it can do for your company in a positive way.
Advantages of Technology in the Workplace
Implementing technology to automate business process is not an easy task. It requires a streamlined development process with project planning. There are full stack software business models out there that already take into account more than 70% of most business’s needs while the remainder needs customization. A good example is the Nexgen business software platform which takes into account the need for centralized management of business systems.
- The biggest benefit is the freeing up of resources.
Your human capital can be better used for more valued-added tasks like selling, innovation, research and product development. By having machines complete tasks and reports for example it frees up the manual labour but also can be scheduled to produce things overnight or 24 7 which humans can’t possibly do. If it is an auto dialler for example for survey calls, it can dial all day long and not get bored or sleep, which means massive efficiency gains.
- An audit of business and internal processes.
The act of designing software requires you to dissect and map out existing processes in order to change and improve on them. So, processes that may be years old, done the same way over and over, can not be torn apart and clearly audited for documentation, training and improvement.
- Digital Storage.
Your data can be converted to digital data, put onto memory drives or on the cloud. Why is this important, it frees up physical space and gives you a way of sorting and accessing data much more quickly. Take a firm of accountants, a year’s worth of audits may take up a whole floor of their office building, by scanning those paper documents, they save on space, which can be expensive in prime real estate rentals.
They can also search and retrieve documents by keyword, date or client according to parameters they file away the information. Instead of clerks going to the file room and manually looking through thousands of boxes, they can type in a search much like you would with Google search except it is for internal documents and data.
- Customer Services
Customer services tools such as ‘Customer Relationship Management’ (CRM) are perhaps the most important automated software tool for all businesses today. Having all your data in a single location is critical for business efficiency and productivity. Popular automated tools can include or create chatbot tools to automate FAQs, so customers do not need to spend hours searching for answers. Also, integrated live chat systems, and VOIP systems build into CRMs that track and record telephone calls alongside monitored emails systems are all worthy of consideration for any business.
- Financial and sales reporting and projections.
Having more data, and ways to sort and analyse that data gives you teams a more efficient way to calculate results. This gives any report quicker and better accuracy. Projections can also be more accurate backed by data sources and historical information. Having data accessible means better monitoring for management and so any problems can be addressed much more quickly.
- Identifying and freeing up waste.
The data and monitoring give your company a better chance to identify areas of waste, for example, a loss-making product or division. Resources that are being under utilised like a printing contract or a company chauffeur can be cut or repurposed. All these lead to efficiency gains and keeps the accountants and shareholders happy.
- Expanding your reach and markets.
Geographical restrictions. travel and office hours mean that a business requires automation to serve different locations, channels and even markets. Just using human endeavour means markets are restricted to local geographies, but a full ERP, online payments processing and global delivery system gives you access to many more international countries. Your staff can be located anywhere too instead of a single fixed place address, with collaboration software, conferencing systems and email.
- Changing with the times.
As the business environment changes, your company must find ways to change too. The effect of any change in business environment requires strategic planning.
If your business cannot adapt or develop with the times, you fall behind and die. Software that is scalable can be changed and added to meet these advances in business demands and also gives you a way to differentiate, streamline things and stay current and competitive. Technology gives you flexibility to change with the times, it gives you efficiency gains from automation, speed, less manual error and inbuilt checks and reporting. So, you have less costly manual errors, need for micro-management or so many layers of checks and supervision.
Automated Business Systems Are Key to Success
Developing a strategy and a software system that automates your business within a cloud can mean you are not limited by storage size and accessibility from local storage. So, as users are added or office locations are added, the software can scale with that, so the disadvantage of storage is a small issue compared to having no automation whatsoever.
Business security can become expansive admittedly, but in today’s modern online era, investing in IT system security is business critical and as such whether you implement software automation or not, you will always need to plan for security. One of the best documents to read about business security today is the 10 steps to cyber security. Management and IT should read this document because it gives you ideas on how to safely implement proper IT security systems and policies.
To conclude, when we get past the disadvantages of technology, software, and automation, and we begin to look at the advantages of automated business systems, it becomes clear just how automation can bring your business to the next level. There are 8 solid reasons above that give you reasons as to exactly why you business will benefit internally and externally!