To understand the importance of something, it can be useful to break it down into its functions. Automation is sometimes called labour-saving technology – its goal is to minimize human interaction in a given process. Automation, then, is good for menial jobs that humans don’t want to do, simple tasks that are easy to perform, repetitive tasks that are prone to human error, and large-scale calculations that would take humans a huge amount of time to perform.
Automation platforms, then, are good for these very same tasks – rote, repetitive tasks prone to human error. These platforms can provide you with so much information it’s almost impossible to list it all. You should always be automated when automation platforms can perform a task more efficiently than a human – you’ll be saving money and creating efficiencies. We’re going to look at three categories that are particularly well-suited to automation, though there are also many others:
Business Process Automation
Business process automation (BPA) is an incredibly broad category of optimizations that seek to find efficiencies in workflow. An excellent example of a BPA is equipment maintenance management software. Instead of having humans chart how often equipment has been maintained and attempt to calculate when the equipment will need maintenance again, data is inputted into the platform. The software can then calculate the estimated point at which the equipment should be maintained again when it will need repairs, how much maintenance and repair will cost over time, and at what point replacement is estimated to be more profitable than repair. Think of all the work a human would have to put in to do the same thing this BPA does instantly.
BPAs can handle a diverse set of other types of work formerly handled by humans – instead of manually writing up a quote, a BPA might be able to create quotes and estimates for you, all while monitoring prices for materials via a constantly updating supply chain database. Another BPA might entail managing your inventory digitally instead of manually, using estimates from past years’ sales and future projections to determine optimal stock levels. There are BPA platforms that can handle all of this. To say this is important is something of an understatement – we’ll soon come to a future where you’ve optimized your BPAs or you’re not in business at all. The efficiencies and cost-savings are that drastic.
Marketing has come a long way since the days of yelling into a crowd about your products. Today, it’s all about gathering information – creating demographic and psychographic profiles, then tracking purchasing patterns and response rates. This can be difficult to accomplish when you’re trying to track the data on your own. It’s even trickier to find meaningful patterns in that data. Where are your customers hanging out?
Marketing automation platforms do all of that for you, and more. They can track exactly how your customers are finding you, what advertisements they respond best to, how much they’re purchasing, how often they revisit your business, and more. Better yet, they can automatically divide this data into demographic and psychographic data, so you’ll know exactly what kinds of customers are engaging in what types of behaviour.
Customer Service Automation
There are a lot of customer service automation platforms. Some of those most popular will integrate virtual assistants, sometimes called chatbots. These programs will automatically respond to common customer queries 24/7, freeing up valuable resources, and triaging more important customer concerns to be addressed immediately.
Online booking is another excellent customer service automation – clients can book your services 24/7, so you can quite literally make money while you sleep. These online booking stats will give you a greater look at how customers tend to use social media, and how that wraps into online sales for you.
Customer service automation platforms are closely linked to customer relations management (CRM), programs that use analytics in order to monitor customer responses to products, services, and interactions. The data used might come from reviews, emails, response times, and more. This allows you to paint a holistic picture of how your business is interacting with customers, find and correct any flaws, and shore up key relationships.
As you can see, automation platforms can accomplish a wide variety of tasks. They never sleep, meaning they can work on problems 24/7. They don’t err in calculations, meaning their number-crunching will always be perfect. They can track patterns across data sets that would never appear to humans. They’re less expensive than hiring a human. They can perform roles in accounting, workflow management, customer service, and more. How important are automation platforms in 2020? Extremely. Find what you can automate, and automate it.