December 28, 2021

The Future of Digital Work: Can You Automate and Humanize at the Same Time?

By Dinesh Varadharajan

Automate and Humanize at the Same Time

Recent innovations in technology and the COVID-19 pandemic spurred many organizations to embrace automation. This includes incorporating intelligent automation to streamline their workflows. But while organizations are becoming smarter, consumers are asking for more human interaction.

While the latest digital technologies have enabled organizations to thrive by making their operations more efficient, streamlined, and cost-effective, there’s still the pressing need to incorporate personalization and humanization into their digital transformation strategies.

How can the modern workplace ensure that its employees can adapt to digital transformation challenges? How can automation and humanization be leveraged to ensure that the technological initiatives that you adopt will help you evolve and succeed? Can organizations automate and humanize at the same time?


The Current State of Automation in 2021

Many organizations have started to embrace digital transformation, which uses artificial intelligence, to enhance speed and efficiency and to deliver better customer and employee experiences.

Practical Applications of Automation

Intelligent automation is increasingly being incorporated into a variety of industries and tasks. It’s used to automate software testing, enhance business resiliency through cloud migration, and lower the costs of marketing spending, among other functions. According to a Zapier report, 88 percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) found that automation gives them a competitive edge over larger companies. The same report notes that 65 percent of knowledge workers experienced less stress because of automation.

Artificial intelligence, for example, is being used in various fields, including:

  • Healthcare

AI is being used with machine learning algorithms in the healthcare industry to detect illnesses, aid doctors in making more accurate diagnoses and clinical decisions, and enhance the delivery of primary care.

  • Coding

AI-powered automation tools have enabled creators to come up with low-code or no-code programs, making it easier for non-developers to design websites, build apps, and automate workflows.

  • Pattern recognition

AI and machine learning are used to translate data into identifiable patterns or trends. It’s being used for image, speech, handwriting, and face recognition.

Automation Trends in Business Processes

Many SMBs and enterprises have adopted automation into their business strategies, allowing them to evolve and face new challenges that crop up. How does this innovation apply to businesses? Below are some of the current trends in business process automation.

  • Using robotic process automation (RPA) and bot automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) and robotic desktop automation (RDA) are increasingly being adopted to address repetitive or mundane tasks. These technologies enable employees to quickly resolve issues or find the information necessary to address these challenges. Chatbots or bot automation, for example, have lessened the need for employees to tackle manual or recurring tasks without compromising the generation of ROI. Additionally, these automated solutions have enabled employees to focus on doing more meaningful or complex tasks.

  • Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

While AI and ML aren’t exactly new technologies, they are being integrated into applications or devices to analyze human interactions and customer behaviour patterns. When incorporated successfully, these have the potential to predict trends and customer demands, drive revenue, and even offer more personalized customer experiences.

The drive for automation brings with it plenty of benefits. However, while pursuing efficiency through intelligent technology, many companies are in danger of sacrificing personalization and humanization.

The Future of Automation

What does the future of automation in businesses look like? Here are some examples of use cases that will help paint a picture of where automation is headed.

  • Adopting cloud automation

Cloud automation helps employees manage cloud-related tasks and services. With 59 percent of organizations planning to focus on cloud migration, cloud automation and migration are slowly gaining popularity. Its benefits include improved system security and business resilience, flexibility, and savings on operating expenses.

  • Using automation software to improve sales practices

In sales, intelligent automation can reduce human error and allow workers to focus on solving more complex assignments, rather than spend too much time on menial or repetitive tasks. Automation tools, for example, can help employees find qualified leads in less time. They can also be used to gain insight into your current sales process, helping you find existing or potential issues.

  • Integrating collaborative robots (cobots) into manufacturing processes

Collaborative robots or cobots can work alongside human workers to drive productivity in the manufacturing sector. They’re used for various tasks in factories, such as assembly and packaging or other repetitive or potentially unsafe tasks, thereby allowing human coworkers to focus on tasks that require greater dexterity or the use of cognitive abilities.

Yes, they’re robots, but they’re not intended to replace human workers. Instead, they’re designed to provide support to their human coworkers, ultimately increasing productivity and process optimization in the workplace.

Leveraging Automation and Human Touch

82 percent of US consumers want human interaction, while 59 percent of all consumers think that companies have lost the human touch when it comes to delivering customer experience and meeting customer expectations. For a company to succeed, it needs to constantly give its customers a good experience. One of the key components of a great experience is the human touch, which entails creating genuine connections with your audience by humanizing technology.

Accordingly, organizations that adopt automation capabilities are more likely to create workplace environments that offer better employee experiences and encourage employees to become more engaged. With customer-facing roles, for example, automation can drastically reduce the time it takes to find and centralize data, allowing you to focus more on resolving customer issues and providing them with their needs. It’s worth noting that you have to be mindful when automating customer service-related tasks. You need to define what your objectives and desired outcomes are, and you need to identify metrics for success.

One concrete example of how automation can be integrated with humanization is in real estate. Factors such as problems with document processes and using different booking systems create a disconnected experience for potential buyers.

One study used robotic desktop automation (RDA) to integrate sales applications onto a single screen. This helped streamline processes such as appointment confirmations and payments for sales agents. For clients, RDA enabled them to easily access reports and have an enhanced view of the whole sales funnel. This technology helped simplify the process of choosing and purchasing a home throughout their entire buyer’s journey. The incorporation of RDA in real estate dramatically reduced the time it took to complete a sales process by as much as 80 percent, and it also increased the rate of units booked by 26 percent.

Automation is one way for organizations to thrive amidst challenges and adapt to changes. While some might be inclined to think that automation is poised to replace humans and human interaction, that’s not necessarily the case. Automation tools are designed to make our daily lives less complex. They’re intended to assist human workers to achieve balance in their work and to meet new challenges as they come.

Organizations can automate and humanize their processes and workflows at the same time. The bottom line is automation isn’t intended to compete with or replace human jobs. The technology is there to deliver not only efficiency but also richer customer and employee experiences. It’s designed to support human tasks and foster human creativity, enabling workers to become more productive and deliver more personalized experiences for clients.

By Dinish Varadharajan

Dinesh Varadharajan

Dinesh Varadharajan is the Chief Product Officer(CPO) at Kissflow. He leads the product management team at Kissflow, the first unified digital workplace for organizations to manage all of their work on a single, unified platform. Dinesh is a hands-on executive with a wide range of experience working with bleeding-edge technologies, developing great products and mentoring highly productive teams. He has profound knowledge in the design and technical implementation of BPM solutions. He was recently named one among the Top 100 Great People Managers 2020, by Great Manager Institute & Forbes India.
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