Beyond manufacturing: how automation can be leveraged to enhance operations in any sector

06/09/2022 by Ali Sajwani

Intelligent automation will generally lead to increased revenues. That simple statement–agreed upon by most C-level executives–suggests we are in the midst of an automation revolution.

We’ve moved beyond thinking that automation will lead to job losses. The concept of “co-bots”–or robots that work alongside humans – is gaining traction within the manufacturing industry, having been proven to boost productivity. In addition, those involved in manufacturing on the shop floor are getting opportunities to upskill and even re-skill. In many cases, we are already seeing a shift towards greater employee satisfaction and efficiency as a result of automation.

Traditional notions within this field usually tend to involve robot arms on car manufacturing assembly lines. While that is not necessarily inaccurate, modern automation has a broader range of applications and is sweeping across the entire enterprises.

In short, automatons have the potential to transform operations across pretty much any sector.

Satisfied customers

Increasingly, we are witnessing customer-facing roles deploying robotics. Chatbots and AI capabilities like natural language processing, machine learning, augmented intelligence, computer vision and hearing are gradually becoming more common across a range of industries. All these have a remarkable effect on real-time business knowledge, staff efficiency, and the customer journey. Using chatbots, for example, to respond to customer requests improves customer experience because answers can be provided on a 24/7 basis, increasing overall satisfaction levels. And we all know that satisfied customers translate into repeat business.

Automation also has the potential to boost the customer experience through faster, more effective responses based on (automated) data-driven insights. Advances in both technology and the way we use it mean that, data can be streamed or collected in real-time to provide companies with unique insights, not to mention the ability to interpret and respond to trends, changes, or anomalies as and when they happen. Ultimately, I see a business’s capacity to respond promptly to the needs of its end-users as way of maintaining successful customer relationships and ensuring its products and services remain relevant. 

By allowing certain tasks to be removed from the human resources and customer service departments, automation gives employees more time to focus on the big-picture priorities. According to IBM research, three-quarters of C-level executives believe that the most significant value to be derived from digital automation is improved customer experience.

Workflow management

Meanwhile, automated workflows can better link processes end-to-end, identifying and straddling siloes and cutting across functions – which often reveals more efficient business practices. Through analysing the steps needed to complete a task or develop a product from beginning to end, repeatable and streamlined processes can be developed, removing the need for involvement from several humans or departments. With 94% of respondents to a recent Zapier study reporting that they perform repetitive or time-consuming tasks as part of their role, for me, automated workflows that allow employers and employees to focus on what matters cannot come quickly enough.

Automation can be used to make any aspect of business more efficient, from HR and marketing to operations and sales. Providing that a simple set of rules can be applied to the task, it can be automated. The benefits of implementing these systems are many fold like from increased worker and customer satisfaction levels to better adherence to company regulations and identifying and eliminating inefficiencies. Automation has come a long way since the advent of robotic arms in factories and has a wealth of benefits to offer across all sectors.

It is thrilling for me to see the world of automation deliver profound, tangible improvements for all kinds of businesses. If handled effectively, this transition will benefit us all.

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