Business Glossary

What is Automation?

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

The definition of automation

Automation is defined as the use of technology to improve efficiency and productivity while reducing human input. It is becoming increasingly prevalent across industries but the degree to which processes are automated varies according to the nature of each business.

Automation covers everything from inventory management and accounting software to automated production lines and AI chatbots dealing with simple customer enquiries.

Understanding automation

Running a business can be more complicated than you think - a simple ordering process can have dozens of steps in it which turn it from a short task into a real-time waster. Though it might be absolutely necessary for your business, it can complicate things and really slow down the running of your operations.

Automation often goes hand in hand with advances in technology and speeding up laborious processes, whether it’s IT-based applications or streamlined manufacturing paths.

With it, it brings huge benefits by improving workflows, optimising business solutions, introducing business software that automates previously human tasks and using AI to take over and speed up many applications.

Advantages of automation

There are many benefits to automation which include:

  • Greater productivity and efficiency
  • Reduced costs
  • The elimination of paper-based processes
  • Reduced errors
  • Improved customer retention
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Improved employee satisfaction and retention
  • Standardisation of process and cleaner, clearer workflow

Business process automation

This is the act of automating workflows and repeatable steps through software and technology. Automated email management marketing is a great example: rather than manually taking email addresses and sending newsletters etc automatic content management systems capture data and enable businesses to automate all those customer care processes.

Automation can streamline document and data processing using artificial intelligence to categorise and store. It can also provide a solution for process mapping, identifying problems and improving efficiency.

Types of automation

Basic automation

This is about taking basic, repetitive processes and using software to automate them, having centralised messaging and tasks so an organisation is connected. It can eliminate human error and make operations more cost-effective.

Process automation

This automates more complex and repeatable processes within a business. For example, it can be used to find solutions for IT challenges and enhance efficiency within your business.

Intelligent automation

This is the most advanced automation where artificial intelligence with machine learning capabilities is used to continually create better processes. The AI actually learns as it goes and is constantly evolving. For example, the use of virtual assistants in customer service who use the data from past interactions to ensure positive future ones.

Frequently asked questions about automation

What is an example of automation?

You can use software to automate sales tasks including upselling, communicating with customers, processing orders and managing stock levels. Automatic sales software can also enable sales departments to create detailed profiles of prospects, engage clients and build relationships.

What is automation as a job?

The job of an automation engineer or professional is to look at a company’s processes and streamline, enhance or automate them. To be able to do their job they must understand the existing workflows, be able to implement new ones and monitor their impact on business productivity.

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