The fact that COVID-19 has disrupted business processes has almost become a truism. However, since early March when the WHO declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic, enterprises have come a long way in dealing with this disruption.
The push for WFH has helped a lot. But the true hero has been the progress enterprises have made in automating traditional & critical business processes.
One of Amazon’s warehouse, spread out over 100,000 sq ft, employs hundreds of people to perform quality checks. In the wake of COVID-19, they were staring at the only option in hand; reduce the workforce and let efficiency suffer. Instead, they chose to partner with a Computer Vision-startup to deploy a system that automates the quality check process.
Automation has played a vital role in ensuring business continuity across sectors.
Of course, the disruption has disproportionately affected some industries. But for the vast majority, strategic implementation of automation has turned out to be a life saver. Enterprises have finally learnt — through a trial by fire — the lessons that automation evangelists have been preaching for a long time.
Investing in Automation Results in Better Returns Over Time
The huge cost barriers for deploying enterprise-wide automation has enterprises reluctant to embrace it. In a study conducted by a leading automation provider, the cost for automation was 40% more than that of manual labor for the first year. This is because of the Systems cost in addition to the Operations cost.
In the second year, the automation cost was 41% lower now that Systems are already in place and Operations is the only expenditure. This trend continues for the subsequent years. Over time, the returns will be manifold.
Automation Mitigates Operational Risks
Enterprises already have contingency plans in case of staff unavailability. What they did not account for was this unavailability spanning over an extended period.
Paperwork-heavy sectors like insurance have leveraged Intelligent Automation tools to automate claims processing. Using AI-powered document extraction, structured & semi-structured documents can be processed without involving a human in the process. Especially during a health crisis, when insurance claims skyrocket, such an implementation has helped insurance companies ensure business continuity.
Some of the high-risk tasks in finance like processing invoices & verification of bills can be done at scale & with minimal errors using Robotic Process Automation.
Intelligent Automation (IA) helps mitigate the risks associated with this.
Even before the pandemic, the logistics sector has been highly dependent on automation solutions to keep the supply chain running despite civilian unrests & natural calamities.
Automation helps with Social Distancing
With social distancing becoming the norm, consumer-interaction heavy industries like retail & healthcare have turned to automation for help.
Amazon Go stores where consumers can simply walk in and pick up groceries and walk out without having to stand in long queues have turned out to be prescient in this regard. At a smaller scale, even neighborhood stores are implementing automation to streamline the crowded & time-consuming checkout process.
In the healthcare sector, where automation is saving lives, doctors are leveraging AI/ML based tools to outsource reading/writing reports and analyzing scans to computers.
Automation Optimizes the use of Manpower
Face-to-face interviews have been replaced by virtual meetings. This was challenging for HR where such meetings are crucial to gage a candidate’s skills and personality.
Here, IA helps in shortlisting resumes for specific job roles to help speed up the hiring process. The HR division of Citizens Bank employs an AI-agent name Jamie to help deal with queries from potential candidates. Since the pandemic began, this agent has resolved over 60,000 queries!
Such agents also help scheduling interviews and processing documentation till the candidate is hired.
IT major Infosys implemented an RPA-based solution for an MNC’s HR division. The workload consisted of:
- Reading/copying/synchronization of data between web applications, ERP, backend systems
- Validation / verification of extracted data
- Reading data/attachments from email
- Sending emails/mass mailers
- Scheduling of meetings
- Data standardization Data logging for audit purposes
The workforce employed to perform the other processes can now be reassigned to more strategic HR functions.
When the pandemic started, call centers were forced to put their customers on very long waiting times due to staff shortage and other infrastructure challenges.
In this case, virtual agents can automate IT helpdesk tasks to support employees. Chatbots can verify the identity of the requestor, identify & resolve the issues, and update logs without any manual intervention. If the issue cannot be resolved, then it can transfer the call to real agents who are now working from home.
Automation Helps Enterprises Tide Over Uncertainties
Companies with a digital transformation roadmap have accelerated their implementation timelines in light of the ongoing pandemic.
Investment in automation technologies will make organizations agile & disruption ready. Service providers in the automation niche with expertise in building such solutions have their hands full with orders from across industries.
Draup for Sales enables service providers to keep track of real-time signals and seize automation opportunities as they present themselves. Automation is poised to become a high-demand digital theme in the post-COVID-19 era. Armed with the right location and industry intelligence data for the target market, Draup helps service providers confidently make inroads into untapped markets.