A sudden economic downturn has followed the unprecedented outbreak of the Coronavirus, and this new economic state puts pressure on business leaders to do more with less.
As we enter a new normal where productivity and efficiency are more vital for business survival than ever before, automation will play a central role due to its ability to streamline workforces and to help businesses keep up competitive advantage.
Many business leaders, however, are hesitating to invest in automation software due to a belief that start-up costs are too high, it takes too long to implement, and the return on investment is too slow.
But it is actually quite the opposite. Automation is a strategic initiative which, given that the right tool is chosen, can ramp up business efficiency and save the business a lot of money.
It’s important to put this doldrums phase to good use so you are ready to ramp up for recovery.
According to Gartner, now is the time to start looking at where you can invest to grow your business: "It might seem counterintuitive, especially when confidence has yet to return, but it’s important to put this doldrums phase to good use so you are ready to ramp up for recovery." They argued in a recent COVID-19-focused article targeted at CFOs.
“We know from studying companies that were successful during prior business-cycle turns that investing in growth bets now is vital to come out on top as the tide changes,” said Alexander Bant, Vice President at Gartner. “To emerge as a leader in your industry, you need to pivot quickly and replace previous long-term growth investments with new ones.”
In an analysis on previous recessions, Gartner showed how businesses who were willing to "spur innovation, change strategy and take risks" outperformed those whose strategies where characterized by "conservatism and cost-cutting".
Automation, hereunder test automation and RPA, is one such strategic initiative for four particular reasons.
The four reasons are outlined as drivers for automation below, and can be used by business leaders to evaluate investment in test automation and RPA in relation to business impact and budget.
1. Automation increases productivity
Automation eliminates time spent on inefficient manual processes. This means employees can be more productive as they can spend more time on tasks that have direct financial impact on the organization. Whether it’s entire processes or fractions of processes that are automated, human hours and brainpower is better spent with automation.
2. Automation reduces risk
Mitigating risk during a recession is paramount. Since robots don’t fatigue or get sick, and since they perform rules-based tasks with higher accuracy, processes can be sped up, human error can be reduced, and processes can operate without deviation. As a result, risk is lowered on several parameters.
3. Automation lowers costs
Using technology to handle time-consuming and error-prone tasks means higher speed and accuracy, and as a natural result, operational costs are lowered. It allows organizations to free up human resources in order to tackle the more challenging work that is needed during challenging times.
But what about the cost of the automation tool itself and the time that is spent on onboarding and implementation?
The answer to this is straightforward: When the right automation tool is chosen, automation offers a quick ROI that outweighs the initial start-up costs. No-code automation is a game-changer in this respect. Learn why in our webinar or watch below our customer story with David Pound, Head of Lending Technology at Investec.
4. Automation frees up time to provide better customer experiences
Aside from the above three primary drivers for automation, the technology can also contribute greatly on the customer support front, which many businesses who have needed to e.g. change memberships, issue refunds and vouchers, or take all their sales online, are struggling with during this time.
By eliminating repetitive tasks in customer support and utilizing data to give support personnel quick insight into customer profiles, support can respond to customer queries quicker, more accurately and in a more personal manner.
In a market where many businesses have experienced an intense influx in support tickets and customer queries, an optimized model for support can be pivotal.
How to kick-start your automation initiatives and secure a quick ROI
It goes without saying that the ability of automation to deliver on these four parameters depends greatly on the approach taken, and the automation tool chosen.
For this reason, we have outlined a concise framework for getting started with automation that will guide business leaders in assessing automation as a cost-saving, strategic initiative.
If you don’t do this now, it will be difficult to stave off competitors or ramp up quickly during any recovery.
According to Gartner, it's important to make your investments sooner, rather than later; "Start to deconstruct and clarify evolving business cases into their most uncertain components so you can decide when and how to fund investments that are critical to business continuity and recovery. If you don’t do this now, it will be difficult to stave off competitors or ramp up quickly during any recovery."