By all accounts, the robots had a banner 2020. At least, iRobot did. The company behind household products like the Roomba vacuum and Braava mop celebrated the beginning of 2021 with a 28% increase in year-over-year revenue, according to a media release.
True, the success of iRobot amid a global pandemic could mean nothing. On the other hand, it could illustrate just how comfortable society has become with automation.
No longer only a sci-fi trope, automation has turned mainstream. Consumers eagerly rely on AI and robots to guide their car trips, autocorrect their text messages, and, yes, even scour their kitchen floors. Not surprisingly, they’ve brought their appreciation of automation into the workplace.
To be sure, some naysayers grumble that too much automation spoils the human broth—or at least puts jobs at risk. The jury’s out on whether automation will cause widespread job elimination, though. Some studies cite that for every position lost to automation, more will appear to take care of the automatronic systems. Regardless, it would seem automation is here to stay in all facets of life, including the office.
From delivering personalized email campaigns to using bots to compose sticky headlines, automated software and solutions are hot commodities. However, automation isn’t limited to marketing departments and sales proposals. Several trends are lighting up the workflow automation phone lines. Not only should you be aware of them, but you might want to implement them into your individual and team processes.
1. Automation is being used to elevate the customer experience (CX).
Far too many people can’t help but associate automation with annoying interactions. Case in point: The chatbot that just can’t seem to fetch the right answer, or even understand the question. Yet automation can just as easily heighten CX, particularly if the automation software’s augmented by “practical AI.”
What’s the difference between standard and practical AI? According to cloud-based contact center platform Five9, practical AI is built around not just self-learning but self-correcting. In essence, it recognizes mistakes, diagnoses them with the help of a human employee, and moves ahead.
By including a human component into the AI self-correcting equation, AI software can actually make fewer secondary errors. At the same time, the employee gets the opportunity to train and guide the AI software to take over repetitive tasks without fear of constant mishaps.
This is where elevated CX comes into the picture. With practical AI-driven automated processes humming in the background, the employee can recapture time to spend with clients. For instance, a CX representative might be able to speak with 10 rather than eight clients an hour, upping call productivity by 20% without sacrificing quality discussions that can only take place between human beings.
2. Employees are turning their reclaimed free time into classroom time.
One of the biggest boons of an automated workflow is gaining back precious minutes, which turn into even more precious hours. Accordingly, many workers are asking, “What can I do to maximize my newfound time savings?” And plenty are coming to the same answer: Start learning.
It’s a wise response. Pew Research notes that around eight out of 10 Americans believe a large proportion of work will be handled by bots within the next 30 years. Who could deny that upskilling is a far better choice than just swapping new mundane tasks for old ones? That would be about as smart as eating a cupcake instead of a donut. As such, online training has seen a tremendous increase as more responsibilities move toward automation.
Does this mean people will out-skill themselves to the point where they’re too educated for their positions? It’s an interesting notion, but most experts aren’t worried about workers getting too much knowledge. Rather, some workplace researchers posit that when people have time to improve on themselves and their intellectual pursuits, they experience an uptick in innovative thinking that spills over into their occupational contributions.
3. Employees have begun hacking their jobs through self-automation.
If you could get eight hours of work done in four hours with a little automation help, would you? Of course. Anyone would. That’s why so many employees have started investing in automation even if they don’t have the backing of their employers. In fact, some workers aren’t telling their employers they’re using automation at all, which is causing a fascinating debate.
What’s the issue? It stems from employers who feel that the self-hackers might be taking advantage of their companies. Nevertheless, traditionally white collar employees (who are more likely to be in a position to self-hack their to-do lists through automation) argue that they’re being paid for work done, not hours clocked.
Who’s right and who’s wrong? The dust hasn’t totally settled yet. Nevertheless, It’s worth noting that some employers are taking a positive approach and encouraging workers to find automation hacks. The reasoning? Once an automation opportunity is identified, it can be shared among teams, making everyone more efficient, including the boss.
After decades of automation, we’re not at the mercy of robots. Instead, we’re assigning them to cover our most redundant, albeit essential, chores. So start investigating the latest trends in automated workflows today. You might be surprised how effectively automation allows you and your colleagues to spend more time exploring, exhibiting, and expanding our shared humanity.