Business automation helps companies manage all operations more efficiently, in line with the needs of very competitive markets. Today, advanced technological solutions make it possible to speed up operations that until yesterday required an important manual involvement. It is therefore not surprising that the business automation segment is constantly growing (with a CAGR of 13.3% until 2023, according to MarketsandMarkets) and is embracing technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation, also imposing itself in contexts where the aim is not to replace the person but to empower and support him to obtain more productivity.
The data tell us that in Italy, in the face of large companies with a high level of digital maturity, the immense panorama of SMEs is quite in difficulty from this point of view: a recent research (on pre-covid data) by the Digital Innovation Observatory of SMEs establish that only 1 company out of 4 (precisely, 26%) can be defined digitally mature, that is, it has adequate skills, technologies and takes full advantage of the digitization of internal and external processes.
The new normal requires the remaining 74% to concretely start this path: although the offices are open, companies will work more and more in smart mode, i.e. with a widespread workforce that asks for access to company resources wherever it is and that thinks in terms of objectives and no longer presence; all this, while customers have become accustomed to the agility of digital and do not grant discounts: if the experience is not what they want it, the competitor is just a touch of the screen away.
Among administrative activities, reconciliations are so complex, repetitive and boring when they are essential for the health of the company. Put simply, a reconciliation is achieved by comparing different sets of documents from different sources in order to find the right matches. A repetitive and routine activity is easily prone to errors and therefore is a perfect candidate for business automation, which in this case can use Robotic Process Automation techniques to extract data from different sources, write them in a common database and simplify, or provide directly, verification. The benefits are evident: speed, accuracy, reduction of errors, falling costs and refocusing of staff on value-added activities.
Onboarding of new employees
The onboarding process of new hires involves various activities that involve different areas from administrative to HR, but without forgetting the IT that must provision a new account, complete with definition of access privileges, activation of applications and e-mail address setup. To all this is added the supply of work devices (notebooks, tablets …), the organization of training sessions and much more. Since this is a cross-functional activity that must be orchestrated in the best possible way, the chances that the employee will be 100% active from day-1 are few. Even here, however, automation can intervene, which means observing the processes in detail, identifying the rule-based areas subject to automation and intervening with automated workflows capable of imparting a strong acceleration to the entire process.
Reception, i.e. the management of the flow of people
Especially in larger structures, every day is a real ‘coming and going’ of people. Suppliers, customers, collaborators and partners create flows of people into and out of the company, flows that must be recorded and managed in compliance with company regulations and policies. The process must be structured to ensure an excellent experience, but also the optimization of business costs. The manual registration, sometimes still on paper, of people entering / exiting, with delivery and return of badges is not very efficient. The solution is the automation of front-desk procedures: for example, those who enter the company can register in self mode both at the entrance of the structure and from home or elsewhere with the smartphone, and then receive a QR Code to show to access and get out of the premises. In this way, the automation of the procedures is also associated with an excellent level of control by the company.
It still happens that sales operations involve a variety of manual activities such as typing contract data into CRM and ERP. This is often done directly by the vendors and then verified by the administrative staff, with double work, potential errors, missing data, duplicates and all the usual consequences of manual procedures. Automation here is essential not only to relieve administrative staff from repetitive tasks, but also to ensure that salespeople focus on their core business and not on data entry.
Optimization of Supply Chain processes
Let us now consider one sector in particular: retail. An efficient management of Supply Chain processes is essential to provide customers with the right product at the right time, but between the purchase from the supplier and the sale to the customer there is an infinite number of processes related to inventory management, forecasting of demand , all the logistical activities for the supply of the points of sale, the management and tracking of orders and much more. All these processes, which shape the daily life of retail chains, depend on back office procedures which, at least partially, can be automated, improving not only the productivity and engagement of employees, but also the relationships between the players in the logistics chain. and with customers.