A business process automation definition can tell you “what” business process automation is, but not what to do.
In this article, we’ll do both of those things – and more.
- Define business process automation
- Explore the benefits, drawbacks, and challenges associated with automation
- Describe where and when automation can be useful
- Look at a specific use case for automation technology
We will start, of course, with a basic definition of business process automation.
A Business Process Automation Definition that You Can Actually Use
Business process automation (BPA) refers to a process where data-driven technology is used to automatically handle complex business operations without human input.
In its least complex form, business process automation can be used to automate repetitive tasks that require no human input.
However, more complex forms of automation – such as cognitive automation – can take over many workflows that were traditionally handled by humans.
Today, automation offers a number of benefits to the digitally transforming organization.
The Benefits of Business Process Automation
There are several reasons why a business might choose to invest in automation technology:
- Productivity and efficiency gains. Automation can increase output by orders of magnitude. At the same time, it can reduce error rates and the time it takes to complete tasks. In other words, automation can perform many tasks much more effectively and efficiently than humans – in a fraction the time.
- Scalability. Automation tools never sleep, they never take breaks, and they can be scaled to a virtually infinite degree. A basic, repetitive task, for instance, can be performed countless times, with virtually no added overhead for the organization.
- Cost reduction. Once an automation process has been created, it typically runs at a far lower cost than it would if humans performed the same work.
To name just a few.
There are countless applications of business process automation, and every business can certainly find unique use cases for a given set of circumstances.
However, automation is not a risk-free endeavor…
The Drawbacks and Challenges of Automation
Every business should evaluate the costs, risks, and benefits of automation before investing.
The potential risks of automation can include:
- De-humanization of products and services. When automation tools are used improperly, it can end up de-humanizing a brand, its products, or its services. For instance, if automation technology is over-used in business-to-customer communication, then the customer experience can suffer. For this reason, organizations should use automation technology to humanize the customer experience.
- Workplace friction. Today, many employees are worried about automation and the threat of job displacement. This is a valid concern, since automation is already causing job displacement to a certain extent. To tackle this issue, organizations should maintain a strong workplace culture and strong lines of communication with their employees. At the same time, it pays to invest in training initiatives designed to keep workers proficient and skilled.
- Over-automation. Too much automation can produce similar results to those just mentioned. Or, by over-automating decision-making, organizations can actually make incorrect decisions or miscalculations. For this reason, it pays to keep humans in the loop when it comes to making judgment calls and decisions.
Avoiding pitfalls such as these is important and can ensure that an organization reaps the full potential rewards from its investment in automation.
To better understand how automation works, let’s look at digital adoption technology.
How Digital Adoption Technology Can Automate User Onboarding and Training
Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) are software training solutions that can be used to automate common business processes such as:
- User onboarding
- Product training
- Day-to-day tasks
These platforms are used by many of the world’s largest organizations, such as Adobe and Amazon, to automate critical product adoption functions.
When used correctly, they can:
- Accelerate user training timelines
- Increase user proficiency and productivity
- Decrease confusion and frustration
- Help users become more self-reliant, decreasing the need for technical support calls
These platforms are commonly used by product developers, such as SaaS platform creators, since they can boost customer growth and retention.
Perhaps more commonly, though, they are used by enterprises that need to adopt new software for internal use.
A business that adopts a new SaaS platform, for example, can use a DAP to improve employee training and to improve the employee onboarding experience.
Conclusion: To Automate or Not to Automate?
As mentioned, there are certainly drawbacks and pitfalls to automation. It is important to stay aware of these when evaluating business process automation solutions.
However, the bottom line is that automation delivers staggering returns when implemented correctly.
Given the overwhelming gains that an organization can reap, there is no reason to avoid automation.
In fact, avoiding automation can be a pathway to obsolescence…
In the coming years and decades, digital transformation will accelerate, automation will become standard, and organizations that don’t automate will quickly get left behind.