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Automation is Helping Build More Effective Businesses

Automation is Helping Build More Effective Businesses

It’s no secret that automation is one of the major trends that most businesses have tried to incorporate into their business plans, most with some middling success. The problem becomes that many businesses don’t really have a strategy for building out automated tools for their business, so they may not be able to take advantage of the benefits automation can bring. 

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Automation Has Workers Looking Over Their Shoulders

Why Are More Things Being Automated?

Much of the western economy is theoretically based on the idea of competition. To succeed, businesses have to do whatever it is that they do better than their competitors. Automation provides a business with the ability to streamline operations and reduce their costs, mostly by cutting payroll. They do this by automating repetitive jobs and replacing the people who are doing these jobs with machines. 

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Tip of the Week: How to Effectively Communicate with Your Clientbase

1.  Use the Best Tool for the Job

Your contacts should never find it difficult to reach you, so you need to make sure you’re providing them with plenty of options for them to make contact. Don’t pick between a phone number or an email address, give them both, along with a live chat feature, conferencing options, and other forms of communication. Making use of things like a blog and social media give you a great way to reach out to them first, starting the conversation.

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IT Trends SMBs Should Focus On in 2020

Business Automation

As businesses have strict cost considerations to take into account, it is likely that automation will grow in popularity. While perhaps more expensive to initially implement, automated solutions can easily provide a return on investment by clearing schedules of the annoying (if necessary) repetitive tasks that otherwise eat up your human employees’ time. This combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence is known as Robotic Process Automation and enables businesses to greatly reduce how often human employees need to interfere in these tasks.

Some professionals have been hesitant to invest in AI-driven solutions, primarily due to incomplete algorithms and the negative opinion towards “replacing human jobs with robots.” However, artificial intelligence has seen some success in reducing HR costs through its inclusion in some software, and so RPA is experiencing considerable growth.

Furthermore, many of the solutions available today can be used in more simple applications, including the improvement of communications, reducing process inefficiency, and eliminating redundancy.

The Internet of Things

“Smart” devices are quickly becoming the new norm, even in the business environment. Many establishments are directing their budgets toward devices meant to improve security, evaluate utility usage, manage supply chains, and other operations.

The prevailing motivation behind implementing and integrating these devices is simple: better cost control. If a business has the tools to track and manage their costs, the entirety of the business can be better optimized. When fewer resources are expended on a business’ crucial interactions and processes, the business inherently becomes more sustainable.

Various Cloud Services

While it may seem like there has been ample time to take advantage of every aspect of the cloud’s capabilities, new services and utilities are still emerging. Sure, most businesses have adopted the cloud to support their email and file sharing needs, but this is the relative tip of the iceberg as far as the cloud’s potential is concerned. Businesses can now consider options like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Security as a Service (SECaaS), and even AI as a Service (AIaaS), confident in the reliability of these increasingly popular utilities and others.

Cloud vendors are also creating new services to see to a business’ needs. The largest cloud vendors can effectively fill any requirement a business has through increasingly specific services. As a result, SMBs definitely have options to help resolve their operational hurdles.

Cybersecurity Awareness

At this point, there is plenty of precedent to establish -- without any doubt -- that businesses of every size, industry, and resource level need to have a cybersecurity strategy in place. While many may argue that enterprise-grade security solutions are above their means, the aforementioned precedent makes this argument untenable. 66 percent of all SMBs were targeted by some kind of cyberattack in 2019, and 2020 is already projected to be just as bad, if not worse.

Fortunately, there are ways that a business can improve their cybersecurity preparedness, such as:

  • Staff training - It is a simple concept: the more able your employees are to spot and properly handle a potential cyberattack (like phishing), the less likely your organization is to be victimized. Security has improved greatly, thanks to methods like encryption, rendering your employees your most vulnerable point. Properly training your staff to identify and report suspected threats, the safer your network will be.
  • Threat intelligence - If you know how you are most likely to be attacked, based on the vulnerabilities that cybercriminals usually target, you will be better prepared to handle these attacks. Think of this as the practical application of “knowledge is power.”
  • Multi-layering - With all the potential security issues that businesses face today, businesses of all sizes need to have a strategy in place to reduce all risks that face them. Therefore, all businesses and especially small businesses, need to have redundant file backup, DNS protection strategies, and AI/machine learning-enabled security features in place.

Improved Mobility

For the past decade, businesses have struggled with mobilizing their workforce. As a result, with today’s emphasis on remote work and other mobility-related concerns, solutions that enable a mobile workforce while eliminating risk have increased in importance. Now, increased connectivity, improved data security, and data protection policies like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) allow your operations to be completed from inside and outside of your workplace, with resources safely delivered to your employees as they need them.

Coleman Technologies can help businesses around British Columbia adopt these approaches, or improve their use of them, to assist their operations and boost profitable productivity. To learn more, give us a call at (604) 513-9428.

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Should Your HR Department Be Worried (About Automation)?

Automation Isn’t the First Threat

Human resources cover a lot of ground in any business. In fact, many smaller businesses extend the human resources role past the seven core functions of HR. These are:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Payroll Administration
  3. Benefits Administration
  4. Training and Professional Development
  5. Performance Reviews
  6. Labor Relations
  7. Managing Compliance

Over the past several years, the company human resources department, especially at small and medium-sized businesses, has been encroached upon by outsourcing. Like many other outsourced platforms Human-Resources-as-a-Service (HRaaS) services use technology to fill in the gaps left by not having dedicated HR professionals on staff. For the business, it reduces the cost, while fulfilling virtually the same roles through remote help desk and software

The Relationship Between Automation and HR

Technology changes things. Does it make it better? That’s a matter of opinion, but for the business owner, not having the human resources department means that they are on the hook to complete the tasks that the human resources department undertakes; and, there is a mountain of it.

That is, unless they can automate them.

The benefits of automation are the same no matter where it is put to use. It opens the way for staff to focus on being more productive, by leaving behind a lot of menial (yet time-consuming) tasks. Aside from enhancing efficiency and productivity, there are many key benefits to automating HR. They include:

  • Reduced employee turnover through improved employee engagement
  • Reduced storage and printing costs
  • Improved risk management and properly managed compliance
  • Improved document management
  • Enhanced business decision making with comprehensive reports
  • Optimized business growth through efficient onboarding

Today, there are plenty of software-based solutions that can keep any business running effectively, but when you get a look at them, these solutions aren’t really human resources platforms, they are human capital managers. 

What is Human Capital Management?

Human capital management is a platform that encourages businesses to treat their workforce as they would any other asset. Its goal is to get the human resources of the business to work as effectively and efficiently as possible. While human resources do more to deal with the individual needs and motivations of workers, human capital management seeks to look for metrics that can be quantifiable and strategically improved upon. It basically aims to change an organization’s view of their workforce from a commodity to an investment. 

What Strategy Is Best for Your Business?

There are multiple ways that automation can be implemented in the HR/HCM process, but depending on what strategy is used, you could be setting your company up for problems from your actual human resources. Most workers don’t like being treated like numbers on a spreadsheet after all. On the other hand, divorcing business decision-making away from typical workforce considerations that aim to sap overall productivity will benefit your organization’s bottom line. 

HR is always a balancing act. 

If you would like to know how automation could help you keep your organization balanced and productive, reach out to the IT professionals at Coleman Technologies today at (604) 513-9428.

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The Pros and Cons of Automating Business Processes

The Pros
There is more than one application and way to use automation. While the uses are more general than specific, they can be applied to several different kinds of goals or processes, whether it’s customer service or data processing. In this sense, automation can be used in a pretty universal way.

It’s obvious that certain processes take a considerable amount of time to complete, but if they are handled by automated systems, they can be completed much more efficiently than before. In other words, since you don’t have to focus on these tasks, you can instead devote the time to something else entirely. This effectively adds more time to the workday by removing routine tasks that can be handled by an automatic process.

Minimizing Repetition
If someone has to do the same task over and over again, they are doomed to lose interest and make mistakes. If these tasks don’t require focus, then the employees will likely let their mind wander, and productivity can suffer. This makes even a quick task more likely to be repeated multiple times, making it less likely to yield a return on the investment. Automation makes it more convenient and less risky to leave monotonous tasks to employees. Trust us when we say employees will thank you for taking these tasks off their plate and freeing up their schedule for others.

When someone reaches out to your business, it’s likely they need your help with something, and they need it fast. If you can’t provide it on a convenient time frame, chances are they will take their needs elsewhere. Automation gives them the ability to get help from a chatbot or other similar automated system without the need to staff someone at all times to address immediate needs. This gives you a better chance at being able to respond to their needs when they reach out to your organization.

Potential Cons
Automation might be quite helpful for businesses, but there are some issues that should be addressed in order to ensure it doesn’t become a liability for your business. For example, some processes are simply too complex for a machine to handle in the same way a human brain can. Most automated systems are limited by design, thus ensuring that they will be limited to the task assigned to them. After all, an automated system’s purpose isn’t being fulfilled if you have to provide constant feedback to it. Here are some ways you can make sure the faults of automation sting less:

  • Use automation sparingly: Some of the services that could be automated likely don’t need to be. This is particularly true for more complex issues. Consider that many of the people who contact your business have a point of contact within your organization and regular requests, meaning that working with a human might not be such a bad thing if they are available at that time. In this way, automation supplements human contact rather than replaces it.
  • Have employees direct the automation: If an automation system can’t perform a task on its own, having employees direct it during more complex tasks can work to mitigate the issue. A complicated request can be made, but still processed and understood with the right direction.
  • Ingrate your automation: You don’t want to stop processes midway. As long as your automation is well-designed and thought-out, tasks can be integrated with automation to ensure they are handled in the most complete way possible.

What are some ways your organization can benefit from automation? Let us know in the comments.

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What Does the Future of Cloud Computing Hold?

According to Walters, there are three trends which we can expect from the cloud for modern businesses:

  • Algorithms will replace certain workflows.
  • Mobility in the office will grow.
  • Access to data will improve.

Automation Simplifies Tasks and Workflow
In several industries, there are positions which require monotonous repetitive actions, like assembly line workers and phone support. Instead of paying these people for being physically present for these tasks, these positions can simply be fulfilled with algorithms and technology based in the cloud.

Walters compares this trend to electronic payment systems. Prior to these automated processes, humans had to stuff envelopes with checks and send them through the mail. Furthermore, instead of taking down credit card numbers and processing the information manually, we now have machines that process all of the information for us. While people still have to manually input information on occasion, the point stands that the majority of the time, automated tasks are far easier and more efficient.

Leave the Office Behind
Technology has progressed so far that mobility is the key to business. It enhances productivity no matter the work environment. Previous generations had to work in the office, but with the increased prevalence of mobile technology, we are no longer limited by the boundaries of the office. According to Walters, "Business cycles will still be normal, 24/7 affairs, but we'll be selling from the beach, presenting from the living room, and securing shipments in the den. These traditional office functions will not need an office presence."

Break Down Data Barriers
Data will be much easier to access in the future, all thanks to cloud computing. The boundaries which previously limited access to data will all come down, allowing access whenever it is needed. Information will be located within the cloud, rather than what Walters calls "information silos," where individuals can easily access it.

Employees might no longer need to partake in tasks which waste time and energy that could be better spent somewhere else. According to Walters, "It would be a sea [of] change in how workers see themselves. We would no longer work for a single company, yet have a profession, working with many companies at the same time - a sort of hypercharged freelancer."

The cloud is a powerful business tool today, but can you imagine how valuable cloud technology will be in the future? Coleman Technologies can help your business take advantage of all the cloud has to offer. We can equip your business with productivity solutions to help your business access information both on-the-go and in-house. For more information, contact us at (604) 513-9428.

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