What is Business Automation, Anyway?

Business Automation might seem like a complex or difficult topic, but even if you have never consciously done so, you have most likely used an automation tool.

Do you know what this object does? You have probably never used one. I certainly haven’t, but it was revolutionary in its time.

slide rule

It is a slide rule, and it is used for simple or complex calculations. We don’t use them anymore, because desktop calculators came along. A desktop calculator takes some numbers (variables), performs a function, and gives you an output. So, slide rules went by the wayside.

Now, I usually just ask Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa to calculate something for me.

Those examples – from the slide rule, to voice enabled helpers, are all types of automation.

There is a good chance that you run your business with apps. Whether that is mobile apps (e.g. Instagram), or web apps (e.g. Airtable), they are now fulfilling a huge number business of functions like accounting, marketing, customer management, and more. Some of these apps are getting near replacing humans, while others simply serve to augment what your team already do.

I define business automation as systems that take an input and process it with minimal or no human intervention.

Of the many benefits automation offers, these are the reasons most businesses give for going down the route of automating their company:

  • Faster customer conversion
  • Increased capacity to compete with larger companies
  • Less staff investment
  • Greater profitability
  • Increased productivity
  • Higher security and data protection
  • Mobile systems
  • Reduced email time
  • Consistency, reliability, and performance
  • You get more of your own time back

 

So, for most businesses, automation is about systems or apps that do things for you. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Webmerge, a system that produces completed forms as PDFs automatically
  • Evernote to store important notes, documents and images (and it can now provide ‘context’ to show you information relate to your notes)
  • Hunter.io to find email addresses of almost anyone
  • Hellosign to collect online signatures
  • Dialogflow to create automated chatbots for your website
  • Twilio to automate and integrate phones, text messaging, and other client communication
  • AgileCRM a value packed small business CRM to automate workflows, lead generation, marketing pipelines, and more

 

Other things automation can do is to do things a human can’t do easily (or at least do it much faster), like Google Translate to break down language barriers, or even Voicera, which takes the pain out of making notes of meetings.

One of the biggest challenges businesses face with automation is how to choose the right systems, and how to bring them all together in an integrated system that works for you.

Zapier has revolutionised small and medium business automation by creating a system that easily links together the apps that you use in your business without needing to have a technical background. Of course, for more complex systems you might need an expert along the way, but things are much more easily accessible now for business owners and managers interested in automation. I have better described one of the use cases for Zapier automation here.

The time and cost of implementing business can range from minimal to quite substantial, depending on the scale and how customised your workflows need to be. In most cases, the cost of the systems can be justified by reduced expenditure in other areas.

 

If you’d like to learn more about how automation can fit into your business, we are offering a free automation review call. Book your time here today.

 

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