3 Ways to Automate Your Business for Better Efficiency

Have you ever caught yourself at work wondering something along the lines of, “There has to be a better way to do this, right?” We’re living in an era in which technology is enabling us to streamline many processes — but at the same time, not every function has caught up yet. Businesses looking to ramp up efficiency need to actively implement technologies and policies necessary to reap the benefits of automation.

Here are just three ways to automate your business for better efficiency.

Automate Routine Back-Office Activities

Sometimes mentions of the word “automation” bring along connotations of replacing human employees with machines. However, automating certain routine processes can sometimes do the opposite — freeing employees of repetitive tasks, which allows them to focus on more complex and enriching assignments.

This is precisely why many organizations are embracing Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This technology can automate certain back- and middle-office activities employees used to have to perform manually. RPA uses predefined rules to perform tasks in the style of human users, allowing employees to focus on other — more engaging — job duties capable of providing more value to the company.

Here’s an example of RPA in action from Harvard Business Review: Instead of requiring employees to compare invoices with shipment notices manually, this technology could do it automatically. Another use case for RPA would be “automatically transferring data from email and call center speech-to-text systems into transactional systems of record.”

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Of course, RPA doesn’t optimize how to perform these tasks; it merely takes over performing them. The most effect RPA works in conjunction with redesigning processes to be more efficient altogether. Instead of just accepting a task must be performed a certain way, whether by a human or by tech, it’s helpful to constantly strive to improve these practices themselves.

Use Data to Optimize Facilities Management

Another area in which automation can help your business cut costs without sacrificing functionality is in facilities management. The building automation technology available today can help organizations monitor and manage energy usage, security, lighting, HVAC, fire safety and more — basically creating a hub for organizations to audit performance in these areas and program how they operate.

According to energy management firm Schneider Electric, although 42 percent of global energy is used in buildings, half ends up wasted because of inefficient building management. Automating lighting, heating and cooling can help enterprises avoid paying for excess energy.

There’s so much potential for building automation today in part because of the increasing number of devices able to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). This rising level of interconnectivity is allowing for greater levels of automation and control over everyday functions, which can help organizations keep costs low and efficiency high.

Streamline Your Approach to Data

Thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), data analytics platforms today can analyze large amounts of data — so vast it would take a human days or even months to plow through — in seconds or minutes. Human users ask straightforward questions in natural language to extract the insights; the AI algorithms do the actual data mining and return the results in a digestible format like an interactive chart.

Far from replacing human data analytics, these systems simply offload the tedium of wading through billions of rows of data hoping to stumble on something significant. Analysts are free to work on more strategic projects while these smart analytics systems handle the number crunching.

Streamlining your approach to data makes the analytical process more efficient and helps organizations identify other areas ripe for improvement, based on what the insights say.

Automating certain tasks, like the ones outlined above, can help businesses operate more efficiently and stay competitive.

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