Organizations of all sizes are going through a transformation process. Digital transformation or optimization of business processes is being fueled by advancement in software and hardware technologies. At times businesses struggle to keep up with the pace of change. However, not keeping pace in today’s competitive landscape could likely mean a fatal blow to the business. There is good news. With advancements in technology, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and increased processing capacity (tools and applications once only accessible to larger enterprises) are now widely available for businesses of all sizes.
Utilizing this emerging technology to enhance workflows and compliance requires a thorough understanding of your processes and resources.
Backed by improvements in artificial intelligence (AI), automation appears ready to have a transformational impact on every industry and organization. With increasing accuracy and successful deployment, automation is assuming manual jobs that involve lots of repetitive data-wrangling such as, processing requests, compiling reports, manual data entry, and updating databases. And for good reason; these types of tasks take up a good portion of the average workday. According to Recruiter.com, employees spend 8 hours of their average work week on manual, repetitive tasks.
For example, tasks that were previously handled by first line or data entry personnel, can and should be automated. Staff can now transition to higher value activities – tasks that are more strategic and require analysis. Being able to analyze and spot anomalies in data patterns will increasingly become an invaluable skill.
It should come as no shock that an employee may feel apprehensive about this perceived threat to their jobs. However, if history serves as an example, technological advances in automation holds the promise of slashing the mundane out of the workday, in turn, making jobs more creative and satisfying over the long run.
Here’s just one example of how emerging technology can improve both process and employee value: Let’s say you’re an HR manager and you spend large portions of the workday performing tasks like qualifying job candidates, sending follow-up emails, and answering on-boarding questions. Suppose you enlist AI-enabled HR software to handle these repetitive tasks. Doing so does not signal doomsday for your job?
Hardly. The most valuable activities of an HR manager are those that a computer program cannot do, such as, building personal relationships, managing employee concerns, helping employees solve pressing problems, and cultivating employee engagement and job satisfaction. These are the exciting, important parts of HR that you never have enough time for because administrative burdens of “digital paperwork”.
Some immediate benefits of automation in the workplace can include gains in customer satisfaction, higher employee productivity, increased efficiency, and faster time to market. Companies that conquer automation first will have a significant competitive advantage in their field. To simply speak of automation in the workplace as something non-existent one day, and there the next, is unrealistic.
When introducing new technologies, it’s important that leaders encourage and facilitate adoption of new technology. Success will favor the teams that are proactive and agile, quickly responding to the changes occurring in their respective industries.
As leaders, we all have the responsibility to guide our teams to embrace new skills that will help them do a better job of executing current responsibilities and potentially advance in their careers in the future.
Here are some ways to help your team — and company — embrace automation.
1. Enlighten - People fear what they don’t understand. Look for early adopters that are also influencers at your organization. Identify internal tech champions that you know will share their knowledge to colleagues. Focus on helping them understand how automation can enhance their work.
2. Encourage – Teach employees how to deliberately look for ways to automate their workday. Where do they spend a large portion of time with little or no payoff (tracking down status updates, handling customer communications, building reports, sending recurring invoices, etc.)? Go a step further by rewarding or recognizing employees who successfully automate core processes, since they’ll be making a positive impact on the business.
3. Accessibility - Look for workflow solutions that do not required a working knowledge of coding and have user interfaces that are pleasant to the eye and easily understandable. These will enable your employees — regardless of technical ability — to play an active part in solving problems through automation.
4. Take Action – Become the undisputed champion of automation within your organization. People will follow those that show initiative and results. Look for opportunities to suggest process automation improvements to leadership. Show them how automating mundane tasks can unlock hidden value and add to the bottom line.
5. Training - As automation frees up workers to focus on more value-added activities, establish skill-building programs or training systems to help workers build up soft skills, like creativity and critical thinking, to work successfully alongside AI and automation.
Regardless of size or aim, the pace of change demands that organizations contribute
resources to imbedding transformational technologies in their future goals and overall mission. Companies that grow and thrive in this new environment will have to master perpetual automation by leveraging the emerging technology trifecta: artificial intelligence, machine learning, and exponential computing power.
This is an article from Houston CPA Society's Online Magazine called the Forum. Read the full magazine here.
About the authors:
Koray Ozturk, is the Chief Technology Officer for Kerr Consulting.
Dan Krishman, MBA is Sage Intacct Practice Manager for Kerr Consulting.
Official Houston CPA Society’s Strategic Partner. Visit Kerr Consulting’s website for more information.