As the digital age continues to evolve, more and more businesses seek to gain an edge over the competition. For all its benefits and new frontiers, this age has also created new figurative battlefields for technological innovation. Thus, many consider “going digital” or undergoing a “digital transformation”, and for a good reason. However, it may still be unclear how such emerging technologies such as automation can assist in this regard. Therefore, it’s vital to note the role of automation in digital transformation, how one can best apply it, and how the two differ but coexist.
Automation vs digital transformation
Naturally, the two terms overlap somewhat. However, it’s essential to make a distinction; automation is not a goal in itself. Instead, automation is a tool through which you can achieve a digital transformation, which is the ultimate goal.
“Automation” often refers to process automation, the use of technology to automate processes that don’t require human oversight. However, it can also refer to any automation tools that seek to streamline a business’s operations. Consider the following examples of applications of such technologies:
- Sales automation tools found in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
- Customer support automation tools found in chatbots
- Event log monitoring automation found in various monitoring software
There are countless such examples, but they all share a key element; they are all means to an end. While each individual application of automation can have merit by itself, it’s their sum that can achieve a holistic digital transformation.
This term, then, can also carry different, ambiguous colloquial meanings. But in a business sense, it’s a very specific end goal; using technology to become digital-first. It’s an ambitious, innovative perspective on shifting one’s business outlook for a variety of potential reasons:
- Future-proofing against emerging trends
- Aligning with new technologies and practices
- Pursuing new sources of revenue
- Revolutionizing one’s business model
- Strengthening one’s operations’ infrastructure against disruptions
Any and all of the above are valuable pursuits for many. Consider, for example, the advent of digital marketing, which gave rise to Digital Dot and other such agencies. Digital marketing is indeed prominent and lucrative. However, this is not the result of a simple collection of various technologies, automation, or otherwise. The role of automation in digital transformation is vital, but any “transformation” entails much more. It’s a holistic shift in one’s business outlook, internal culture, and decision-making process.
Automation in digital transformation: the key benefits
Having highlighted the above, let us distill the key benefits of automation in digital transformation efforts.
#1 Streamlining workflow
First and foremost, automation’s primary goal is to streamline existing operations. From outgoing emails to notifying relevant agents of incoming customer inquiries, automation can provide a powerful tool. Consider the following functions and operations of many businesses, among others:
- File transfers and spreadsheet data entry
- Project management
- Employee analytics and reporting
- Social media management
Any of these items can take up precious time and decelerate your workflow. But do they need any considerable human oversight? Most probably not. As such, you can use technology to automate them and streamline your workflow. With fewer tedious, repetitive, and uncreative tasks in your hands, you and your teams can reinvest your time in more pressing matters.
#2 Increasing operation efficiency
With a streamlined workflow, then, your teams can likely ensure better time management. But perhaps more importantly, the vital role of automation in digital transformation lies in increasing operational efficiency.
Avoiding human error and data redundancy
While automation itself is often not flawless, it still offers much less room for mistakes and omissions. By automating data entry or distribution, you can somewhat eliminate the factor of human error. By extension, you can more easily avoid data redundancies.
Improving data collection and monitoring
Similarly, automated data collection can help alleviate the risk of human error and oversights. Simultaneously, automated monitoring can help reveal inconsistencies, shortcomings, or recurring patterns of incoming customer inquiries. With such accurate, swift insights, businesses can ensure increased efficiency across the board.
Collecting accurate employee and operation reports
Finally, automated report systems like ones found in CRM software can ensure similar report data integrity. With valuable, actionable data in their hands, businesses can more swiftly gauge performance and measure efficiency.
#3 Increasing employee productivity
Finally, both of the above factors can result in increased employee productivity. From breaking down data silos to incentivizing IT and sales teams to work closer together, automation can provide substantial change. Increased productivity by itself is a benefit, of course, but the role of automation in digital transformation also extends to such subtle shifts in internal culture.
Enhanced internal collaboration
With communication channel consolidation, your employees can collaborate more efficiently. Automation tools can notify relevant agents of incoming requests, provide interaction history records for optimal customer support, and more. With such tools at their disposal, different departments can collaborate more efficiently and, in turn, become more productive.
Better time management
With a streamlined workflow, your employees can ensure better time management. Few enjoy having to work on unrewarding, impersonal, or backend tasks, right? With proper workflow automation, employees will have more time to focus on productive, customer-based tasks that actually require their expertise. This doesn’t merely ensure more efficient operations, but also a more content and satisfied workforce.
How you can employ automation in digital transformation efforts
Finally, consider the following ways to employ automation in your efforts.
#1 Collect data through all customer touchpoints
From marketing teams to sales teams, automation can offer a wealth of data for your business to act on. Becoming digital-first includes identifying all your digital touchpoints and optimizing them.
#2 Tailor your content for your audiences
Next, act on your data to personalize your marketing content. Audiences react much better to personalized content than generic, impersonal content.
#3 Automate your content distribution
Finally, you can automate your marketing efforts. Set optimal action triggers based on your data, and let automation improve your outreach.
It should thus be unquestionable that the role of automation in digital transformation is a fundamental one. Through embracing such technologies, you can more comfortably proceed to become digital-first and ensure your business thrives.