What is Automation
Automation can be defined as the use of technology to reduce human effort in a variety of tasks, both physical and cognitive. It means automatically completing processes (either entirely or partially) so that people can focus on high-value tasks.
The Evolution of Automation
The origins of automation lie in the manufacturing sector. Ever since the industrial revolution, there has been a push toward using mechanical and, eventually, digital systems to reduce human dependence on production lines. To that end, the International Society of Automation (ISA) defines automation as “the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services.”
Over time, companies realized that the benefits of automation applied to virtually any business process, even those without physical labor. This gave rise to the concept of business process automation or BPA.
Gartner defines BPA as “the automation of complex business processes and functions beyond conventional data manipulation and record-keeping activities, usually through advanced technologies.”
Thus, depending on the digital maturity of the enterprise, automation can mean the following:
● Using mechanical automation systems like robots to complete tasks that would otherwise require human hand-eye coordination and limb movement.
● Using digital connectors and tools to move data between systems automatically, create data records, or retire obsolete data.
● Using software robots or “bots” to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intervention using a keyboard or mouse.
A real-world example of automation is when a customer sends a query, an artificial intelligence (AI) bot can “read” the message’s contents and decide the appropriate response from a prebuilt database. In this automation example, an event triggers the decision.
Top Automation Use CasesSome of the top automation use cases within enterprises include:
- Invoice processing: Automatically checking and verifying supplier invoices so they can be automatically approved and paid on time.
- IT user management: Creating and provisioning user accounts in bulk, along with password configurations and automated password reset.
- Customer service: Using AI chatbots to interact with customers and answer common queries like shipping dates, returns/refunds, etc.
- Marketing automation: Automatically creating, personalizing, and sending out branded messages on various channels like social media, emails, etc.
- HR processes: Using biometrics and location data to record employee attendance and calculate payroll automatically at scale.
Automation Examples and Benefits
The benefits of automation are far-reaching, ranging from time, effort, and cost savings to a more productive workforce. Enterprises can unlock thousands of hours of time savings through automation.
An automation example is transaction handling and reconciliation. For instance, a Fortune 50 e-commerce company automated 98% of all transactions and reduced the Average Handling Time (AHT) by 75% through Soroco’s Scout work graph. Similarly, a Fortune 500 pharma’ product supply business unit used task mining and automation to reduce AHT by 95%.
Automation vs. Hyperautomation vs. Intelligent Automation?
Today, talk about automation is primarily centered around bots – i.e., robotic process automation or RPA. Intelligent automation adds a new dimension through artificial intelligence (AI).
Hyperautomation adds another dimension by making automation more business centric. Instead of approaching automation as a standalone IT project, it marries automation with high-level business strategy, business unit-level processes, and AI components.
Kickstart your automation journey with Soroco ScoutTM
Today, more than 60% of the workday is spent on unstructured interactions in documents, emails, communications, custom applications, websites – outside of ERP, CRM, and other systems of record. Organizations can leverage the same data source to unlock multiple opportunities such as building a map of how their teams get work done, including variations in the last mile, and building a data-based digital transformation program with multiple levers such as automation and streamline unnecessary variations of work.
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