Bridging the Gap between Automation and Innovation

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February 5, 2024

Glenn MathisAutomation and Innovation. Some people might say those two words cancel each other out. Yet, I believe these two concepts can create capacity for each other—if your business leverages the free time automation creates to foster innovation.

Automation can be innovation’s best friend. It removes repetitive tasks, offering you more face time with clients and more time to dream up new products and business solutions. It’s all very promising, as some of the latest industry chatter can attest. Knowing when to pull the trigger on new automation investments can be challenging. What are some of the things you need to consider first? Here are my thoughts on the matter.

 

Making the Case for Automation

 

Not every office process needs to be automated‑especially those requiring creativity, strategic thought, or specialized knowledge.

The best candidates for automation are redundant processes that require significant time and are resource-intensive. Contract filing, employee onboarding, travel expense reimbursement, and authorizing PTO requests are good candidates for automation. The time and resources saved can be leveraged to perform tasks requiring more critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.

At Integris, we aim to review every task and determine if it adds value. If it’s a chore, automate it! Automation and scripting (coding) coupled with AI is known as Intelligent Automation, and that combination is how you truly maximize efficiency.

Capture the Time You Gain from Automation

 

Automation has the potential to shave time and expenses from so many core functions. Often, however, companies fall into the trap of not effectively using the time gained from automation. For many, automation creates the Parkinson’s Law trap, the notion that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, give someone more time, and they will fill that time with the work they already do. And that, my friends, is the true challenge: bridging the gap between automation and innovation.

For example, you’ve just automated a recurring task that used to take three hours to complete manually and turned it into a ten-minute task. You’ve now saved 170 minutes of valuable time. However, if the time saved is not used productively (call a client, close another deal, etc.), the efficiency of automation cannot truly be realized. So, measure how the time is used as much as you measure the extra time created.

How will you redirect those employees toward more valuable tasks? How will you encourage your teams to reconfigure themselves around more pressing organizational goals? Will you encourage them to dream, aspire, and take your business on a journey to your next big thing? You need to think about these things before you delegate your following slate of tasks to automation.

AI, Automation, and the Future of Work

 

The role of employees within a business will also evolve in the world of Automation and Innovation. At some point, nearly every employee will need the skills to build automation, write their own “code,” and contribute value-add efficiencies to the business. Providing this training and cultural mindset will eliminate the dependencies on programmers and application development departments to create automation. It’s the next generation of digital native employees.

Business process automation, carefully selected, can maximize output, add value to the organization, and free up employees to attend to more productive tasks. Saving time with automation is essential. What you do with that time is even more critical. Ignore that, and you forfeit the advantage that automation has provided. Automating business processes is essential to a company’s digital transformation, delivering on the promise of improved customer experience and increased productivity. Integris can help automate these tasks, allocating more time to the ‘human touch’ businesses need to grow a loyal and satisfied client base.

 

Glenn serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Integris.

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