The current industrial revolution dubbed 4.0 revolves around advanced machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions working together to improve business processes with automation. ML and AI analyze massive amounts of real-world data to find patterns and provide solutions that increase productivity.
Business process automation (BPA) is the next big thing in industrial manufacturing, but it’s also finding an application across many different industries. Automation provides a few incredible benefits that can help businesses improve their operations. Let’s take a look at the advantages of business process automation.
Business Process Automation Explained
Automation is currently changing entire industries. It’s possible only due to the increasing computing power needed to develop powerful AI solutions in the past few years. Business process automation uses AI to increase productivity and reduce costs.
Traditionally, automation is used to reduce physical labor and take the load off of your workers. It’s been a part of industrial manufacturing for decades, but automation is now finding its way into other business processes as well. Automation is usually applied to repetitive tasks that don’t require thinking.
AI solutions can complete these tasks much faster and more accurately than humans. Moreover, AI-powered solutions don’t make mistakes. BPM automation involves all steps in running a business including planning activities, execution, monitoring, and control over various processes.
Principles of Business Process Automation
Every AI implementation into existing business processes has to follow a few principles to be successful. Here are the main concerns of business process automation.
1. Understand, Find Shortcuts, And Automate Processes
A successful AI adoption largely depends on your understanding of existing systems and business processes. Before you can adopt the ideal AI solution, you must know every detail about the system. Review all existing business processes and try to simplify them as much as possible before introducing an AI solution.
All automated processes must be consistent with other business processes on both ends. This step is essential if you want to get the benefits that automation provides.
3. Gradual Approach
Once you introduce AI into existing processes, you can’t expect it to automate every action. Automation requires time, data, and money, so starting small and increasing automation over time is better.
The goal of every automation adoption is to simplify complex business processes. If the automation still requires human intervention, you did something wrong. It’s supposed to be able to complete processes without human intervention.
5. Process Flexibility
Automation can have a negative effect on business flexibility if it’s not set up correctly. Businesses and processes change over time, and your automation solutions should be flexible enough to follow these changes.
6. Staff Training
Your staff has to be in line with your business processes and company goals if you want your operation to succeed. If some of them lack experience or understanding of these processes, they might need some extra training. Automation will make existing processes more efficient and reduce errors, but your staff still needs to monitor the process and identify issues.
Business Advantages of Automation
Here are some of the primary benefits of using AI to automate business processes.
1. Improved Efficiency
The main benefit of any automation adoption is increased process efficiency. Automated processes don’t require human intervention, so you won’t have to monitor processes in real-time. Moreover, AI solutions will identify bottlenecks in workflows and find solutions to increase process efficiency.
2. Cost Reduction
A business process that requires manual labor leads to a waste of resources. Companies have to spend more money on workers, safety requirements, etc. Business process automation minimizes overall costs and increases profit margins. Moreover, once it optimizes the process, it reduces wastage and helps improve overall efficiency.
3. Document Management
Managing and maintaining accurate documentation is a challenge for every process, manual or digital. Moving and sorting large amounts of data is a tedious process that requires a lot of time and is prone to error.
Automation helps with document management as well. It can help streamline document management by organizing data and making it available for everyone involved. Of course, managers can give out roles to employees who work with the documents to increase safety. Finally, automation helps improve information accuracy.
4. Improved Customer Service
Having excellent customer service gives your business an edge over your competition. However, many small and medium-sized businesses struggle to provide good customer service due to language and time-zone restrictions.
However, AI can help automate customer service features to provide help to more people around the clock. With features such as automatic ticketing, AI-powered chatbots, and access to a detailed knowledge base, you will be able to provide help faster, and more accurately.
5. Increased Transparency
Most AI solutions provide users with customizable dashboards that simplify communication and ensure that everyone involved knows what’s going on. AI does a great job of tracking KPIs across multiple processes simultaneously. Once it learns what’s going on, it can generate detailed process performance reports, giving you a better idea of the areas that need improvement.
In other words, automation increases transparency across processes and allows team members to track assignments and employee performance. The Wizata manufacturing software is an excellent example, as it provides unprecedented transparency in process management, supply chain management, and many other essential processes.
6. Higher Employee Morale
After adopting advanced AI solutions to increase automation, your employees will be happier than ever. The AI will take care of all repetitive tasks, allowing your workforce to focus on other important business processes.
But how does that look in practice? Well, every step of the process is streamlined to increase efficiency. It will lead to faster approvals, shorter downtimes, and accurate performance tracking, meaning that your hard-working employees will get the recognition they deserve. Automation will simply provide your teams with more time to focus on improving the business as a whole.
7. Greater Compliance
Compliance, or better said the lack of it, can result in huge costs and penalties. Ensuring that your business follows all legal regulations can be complicated and time-consuming. However, process automation software helps ensure that all processes are compliant at all times.
AI-powered software is great at logging records and tracking employee performance. These detailed logs can be used during auditing and employee evaluation.
Challenges of Introducing Automation Into Existing Business Processes
While business process automation clearly offers some incredible benefits, adopting an AI solution doesn’t come without challenges. Here are some of the main hurdles you have to overcome when adopting automation.
1. Expensive Solutions and Integration Issues
Most established companies that have been working for a long time have internal legacy systems. Introducing an AI into a legacy system can be complicated and lead to all kinds of issues down the road. The integration process is usually followed by high costs, which can be too much for smaller businesses.
The key of every automation process is to remove the human factor to minimize errors and increase efficiency. However, replacing humans is easier said than done in most cases. A seemingly simple task can be hard to automate because AI has to replicate human behavior. If the implementation is too complex, the AI won’t provide the results you expect.
Security is always an issue when introducing new technologies into existing business processes. Hackers are always looking for new ways to breach systems, and the digitization of processes gives them the perfect chance to steal information. You’ll have to invest in better security measures to keep the system hacker-free.
As you can see, business process automation is not easy to achieve. It does offer all kinds of business benefits, but only if the integration is done right. The entire process can feel overwhelming and complicated because it requires a lot of hard work and accurate data analytics.
However, when done right, AI integration can help improve existing processes and prepare your business for the future. Make sure that you calculate your expenses before getting started, or the solution might be too expensive.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Seoturnover.