The benefits of automation go far beyond cost savings. From elevated insights to industry disruption, here’s how to truly benefit from this emerging technology.

Alongside flying cars, home-helper robots have long been predicted as a staple of how we’ll live in the future. And with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home taking over day-to-day tasks, we’re well on the way to having mechanised butlers. Outside the home, similar technologies are becoming more common in the workplace, generating new opportunities, facilitating cost savings and generally transforming business practices.

Unfortunately, not everyone recognises these opportunities for what they are. A common misconception is that digital automation means robots will replace people and no one will have a job to go to. Similar fears were voiced when computers first became part of our professional lives. But while computers have rendered some roles unnecessary, they have created far more jobs than they ever replaced. The same is predicted of automation.

According to a study by Adobe, only the most mundane tasks will be automated. This will free up human capital to be used on more creative, fulfilling and ultimately strategic duties. Another misconception is that automation is solely about cutting costs, when there are many other benefits to reap.

Industry disruption

“Automation is not about taking out cost – it’s about becoming more competitive,” says Sean Smith, Isentia’s CEO Media Intelligence. “Done right, it can uncover new business models and revenue streams, and improve outcomes with more efficient processes and better-quality products and services.”

For example, Daimler used sensors as part of the Internet of Things (IoT) in its car2go on-demand service. Thanks to these sensors, it could monitor the performance of individual vehicles and analyse data to maximise efficiency. It could also manipulate this user-specific data to offer drivers customized insurance policies, rather than traditional policies based on data from all users. This meant better value for the drivers, and more revenue for Daimler.

This is just one example of how automation can disrupt traditional models to provide a competitive edge in the market. And if your competitors are doing it and you aren’t, you’ll likely be left eating their dust.

“Automation creates opportunities for deeper insights and analysis,” says Smith. However, to really reap rewards, you need to consider the bigger picture. Daimler wouldn’t have thought of adding personalised insurance if it was solely focused on getting car2go up and running. Instead, it looked further ahead, saw the potential for creative collaboration with adjacent industries, and found some easy wins using the same system. As Smith says: “It’s an investment that requires vision beyond year one.”

How to get the most from automation

So how do you embrace this brave new world? The first step is to fully audit your business and find the low-hanging fruit where automation can drive the biggest impact. Cincom, a provider of enterprise software, audited its content as part of its behavior-based content marketing campaign. It also tracked its users, gained a clearer picture of them using progressive profiling (asking them their company name and size, and requesting more information with each subsequent website visit) and tagged its content to see who was reading what. Once Cincom had built a detailed picture of its audience, it was able to market to them more effectively.

The result? An average of 18 new sales leads every week. Most importantly, it achieved this without overhauling how its business functioned. It didn’t change what it did; it was just able to execute it better.

Upskilling and educating staff

The final piece of the puzzle is your most valuable asset: the people who work for you. It’s imperative you assuage any fears of robots “stealing” their jobs, and steer the conversation towards a more positive outlook. Emphasise what automation can do for the company, and for their careers. Explain how it will mean fewer mundane tasks for them, and more creative, strategic work instead. Consult with them to identify where their skills would be best utilised and focus on making the most of them – for their benefit as well as the organisation’s.

Automation is just one emerging technology with the power to transform your business and the working lives of both you and your colleagues.

 

Sean Smith

Chief Executive, Media Intelligence