How can marketing automation scale a business

digitalization

Automation solutions are gaining traction in companies in a wide variety of industries. The reasons for this: Appropriate tools have the potential to solve challenges in process automation, reduce costs and increase efficiency in the departments from finance and accounting to marketing and customer service. However, this approach often leads to the formation of silos: A team uses an automation tool to automate its own processes, but without considering how this solution could also help other departments in the company.

Take automation to the next level

When companies decide on an automation solution, the challenge is not the implementation of the tool, but its scaling. A report from HFS Research shows that while most companies are already using automation tools, they have yet to scale.

An example of this is Robotic Process Automation (RPA): According to HFS, 90 percent of organizations take an integrated approach to automation. The biggest obstacle for them is the lack of a clear business vision - and also the lack of specialists who could drive automation projects forward. As long as they do not master these challenges, it will be difficult for them to effectively scale automation solutions in line with their needs.

The good news is that these pitfalls can be overcome - if companies know where to start. It is recommended to use the following steps.

1. Establish a competence center

In order to find synergies and, for example, to establish a successful automation process in other areas of the company, it is helpful to set up a center of excellence (CoE). It consists of a group of employees who deal intensively with topics related to automation. You monitor automation processes and compliance with the respective standards throughout the company, initiate training courses, coordinate providers and introduce best practices. This automation task force can be structured flexibly. Three different models are conceivable, which differ in terms of the distribution of responsibilities:

  • Centralized operating model: A team leads and controls all aspects of automation.

  • Decentralized operating model: For the operation of the automation program, the responsibilities are distributed among different business units.

  • Hybrid operating model: A single, centralized team runs some aspects of the automation program while others are replicated in other business areas.

The question of which model is suitable for a company cannot be answered across the board. It's a good idea to start with the model that seems appropriate - and adjust it if necessary. For example, if a company is just getting started with automation, the centralized approach might be best. For scaling, on the other hand, it is advisable to distribute responsibilities across the company.

2.Check the software critically

Currently, many companies use software such as RPA to optimize their processes, but only limit them to a few business processes. This approach is correct as a first step in order not to get bogged down. However, it means that numerous other processes still require a lot of manual effort.

The challenge is that many RPA tools are unable to solve more complex, so-called cognitive tasks. Therefore it is necessary to switch to the next generation of RPA solutions. These tools include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning functions to automate a wide variety of complex tasks. Software robots are thus becoming the new, digital colleagues of real employees.

The bots act as "arms and legs", while the AI ​​components represent the "brain" of this RPA generation. Such intelligent software is able, for example, to recognize the receipt of an invoice, to identify the supplier and the corresponding order and then to trigger an action in the accounts payable department - all without human intervention.

  1. Gero Decker, CEO of Signavio GmbH
    "More and more companies are investing in Robotic Process Automation. But where does the use of software robots actually make sense? Where should a process first be improved before it is automated? How can RPA initiatives be planned, evaluated and controlled? A Scalable RPA initiative is based on well-founded documentation, analysis and optimization of processes. This is the only way to gain confidence in action and achieve long-term success. "
  2. Roman Schäfer, partner at Blue Reply
    "We are convinced that the use of process analyzes, RPA and the implementation in innovative platforms make companies competitive in the long term. The aim is to enable companies to digitally transform their business model."
  3. Walter Obermeier, Managing Director of UiPath GmbH
    "What can I do quickly and with agility today to be fit for tomorrow? There is no better tool than Robotic Process Automation when it comes to getting the best out of with few human resources. Of course, I will have to use my old legacy Systems wait, but react quickly to changes and to be able to meet business requests quickly is the best way to do it with RPA. Suddenly IT and business can make friends again and act agile and successfully together. "

3. Convince employees with success stories

Robots that, as digital colleagues, are supposed to support employees - this idea meets with reservations with one or the other. Employees wonder whether the software will soon replace them. This concern can be quickly put out of the way. People instinctively fear change. Well-functioning examples can help here. These clearly show the value of automation and address people's emotions.

One example is the introduction of ATMs, which many bank employees feared would become redundant. But the opposite was the case, because they could now focus much more on customer service. When companies show their employees how automation improves the customer and employee experience, they are much better convinced of further automation processes in the company - especially if the company wants to use the solution in other areas.

To do this, however, the company must create an awareness of how automation enables better data accuracy, cost savings and shorter processing times. No employee will happily spend their time copying data from A to B to C over and over again. Exactly such tasks are time-consuming and, moreover, very error-prone, since the concentration can decrease. This time can be filled with other tasks in a much more meaningful way, for example by allowing employees to concentrate on advising customers.

4. Optimize other business areas

Normally, companies start their automation program first with testing individual projects in one area in order to then gradually expand them as part of the scaling process. Afterwards, however, many find it difficult to find other processes that can be automated using RPA, for example. In order to identify these, the automation task force should exchange ideas with business and IT management and clarify the following points:

  • Which areas of the company are falling short of expectations?

In areas that are not innovating or increasing in productivity, there are often workflows that could be considered for automation.

  • At which points are there bottlenecks due to inflexible applications or information silos

If areas consistently deliver worse results than others, is this possibly due to a lack of information exchange between the areas and departments? Systems that have been migrated twice, for example, can cause processing bottlenecks.

  • Which processes cannot be scaled without additional staff?

As companies get bigger, the number of processes also increases. If organizations have to hire more and more staff to maintain these processes, this is a clear indication that a process optimization is necessary.

It doesn't work without a scalable automation solution

If companies want to be more customer-oriented, it is necessary to use the automation software in as many areas as possible so that it relieves employees as comprehensively as possible. The great success of automation comes when companies bring people, technology and processes into harmony. This increases the efficiency and success of the entire organization. (mb)