Gilbert is the Chief Marketing Officer at OpenBots, an Entrepreneur, and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council.
If you want your business to be more efficient and free up time to focus on other, more important things, then automating your repetitive and mundane business processes is a great way to achieve those goals. In addition, there are many benefits to automating your business.
This article discusses how companies with an online presence can utilize intelligent automation to connect disparate systems, take on repetitive computer tasks and improve the overall back-office operational process.
What technology are successful entrepreneurs utilizing to keep their customers happy and their revenue in positive numbers? Before covering the emerging technologies that entrepreneurs are using, let’s ensure we cover an essential part of any successful business: customer engagement. “Customer engagement is a collaborative effort…” said Nancy Marshall, Forbes Council Member. When a customer engages with your brand, your business must deliver the best customer experience possible. Providing a great customer experience is key to returning customers to your business in a period defined by your product usage or strategy.
We don’t have to guess much about the technologies used by successful entrepreneurs and major corporations; simply looking around in regular retail or e-commerce stores will reveal repetitive efforts from companies looking to satisfy customers’ demands and reduce complaints about poor customer experience practices.
Companies like Walmart have automated cashiers, Amazon has physical robots as part of their fulfillment process, and intelligent automation is the new kid on the block.
Intelligent automation is the use of automation technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), intelligent document processing (IDP) and robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline and scale repetitive computer tasks across organizations (2).
According to Verified Market Research, the intelligent process automation market size was valued at USD 8.52 billion in 2020 and will reach approximately $21.63 billion by 2028.
What about your back-office and operational strategy?
Your operational back-office strategy is one of the areas where you can apply intelligent automation. For example, you may be running NetSuite or another CRM internally, and your fulfillment company or third-party vendors may want you to use their own systems. Apart from this, I’ve seen other departments that need help accessing accurate data from multiple disparate systems quickly to process orders.
In addition, intelligent automation platforms, like OpenBots and Microsoft, are making this technology mainstream by facilitating frictionless access, which enables teams to learn and implement this technology in a matter of weeks.
How can you identify which business processes you should automate?
Identifying which business operations you can automate could account for approximately 50% of your automation journey. The first step is to know what issue you are trying to solve or what you are trying to improve.
For example, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in Europe wanted to improve their company response time. They were losing hundreds of businesses due to the slow reply to online queries. Welcome to the instant gratification era, where customers are not waiting for companies but instead have several other alternatives at the click of a button.
Once you identify what operational process you are trying to improve, you need to create a plan and map out all the steps your employees or colleagues go through. This plan becomes the scope of work (SOW) for future developers or citizen developers.
You and your team can take a business analyst course to help you get started on your journey to identifying different automation opportunities. Then, using the proper discovery application can help you organize those business processes with the best options.
The basics of every discovery process are to take detailed notes of business processes. For instance, an employee can keep track of every step of an order’s journey and keep a journal of necessary events during the process.
What standard automation are online companies implementing?
Over 50% of online businesses now use chat on their website. Usually, a chat service like Google Cloud, HubSpot or Messenger will include automated functionality.
Adding an intelligent automation platform to the back end helps ensure that chat services have all the necessary information to provide your clients with the information they requested in seconds, without a human looking into different systems while the customer is on hold.
Usually, an automated chat will send a predetermined set of messages to the end user. Then, using an IA platform like OpenBots or UiPath on the back end, a digital bot can log in to different systems to retrieve private information and bring it to the end user in seconds. This task usually takes a couple of minutes for humans and is time on hold for the end-user.
Another standard automation is invoice processing. Our previous examples highlighted the importance of being responsive to online requests. Invoice processing is part of this process that might start as an online request and then become a final invoice or an online purchase.
One of e-commerce’s go-to automation or digital bots is the fulfillment bot. This digital bot is programmed to connect disparate systems from third-party fulfillment companies and internal systems. The fulfillment bot can complete up to 20 computer tasks over the course of an order, saving e-commerce businesses several hours of their ordering process time.
A quick and accurate response is critical for online businesses trying to maintain the best customer experience. When companies don’t have to depend only on humans, they can leverage intelligent automation to produce a digital workforce capable of running business processes 24/7.
To put things in perspective, global retailers can produce over 500 digital bots. If a digital bot can perform over 50 tasks, can you imagine having a digital workforce of 100 digital bots performing over 5,000 computer tasks?