The expected and unexpected benefits of automation
Automation has become increasingly important across industries in recent years — which refers to the technique of making a machine, process or system operate automatically. In fact, automation was characterized as a priority during the strategic planning process for 38% of organizations, according to a 2020 report from McKinsey & Company.
As more and more organizations consider implementing automation into their daily operations, it's essential to understand what these processes can do for the business. This includes a number of benefits that are expected as a result, as well as unintended advantages that are equally critical to consider.
The expected benefits of automation
Improvements in technology have been extremely valuable for increasing operational efficiency in organizations. This has brought about a great interest in the advantages automation might be able to provide. The most common benefits that organizations can expect to see as a result of utilization include:
- Efficiency: One of the main advantages of automation is the opportunity for businesses to save their employees valuable time. Repetitive and time-consuming tasks that have long been handled by manual labor can be reduced through automation — which means employees have the chance to tackle more important and complex undertakings.
- Consistent outputs and reduced errors: Manual processes are inevitably error-prone, but with automation, these mistakes can be greatly decreased while offering more precise and consistent outputs. According to a study from SmartSheet, 66% of organizations cited automation as being key in reducing errors.
- Lower costs: Employing automation is certainly an initial investment. However, because of the opportunity to save time, reduce errors and eventually lower production costs, it's often invaluable in the long run.
The unexpected advantages to consider
Many organizations may already be aware of the benefits automation can provide, but there are also a number of unintended advantages that shouldn't be overlooked. Some of the most valuable unexpected benefits of automation include:
- Job satisfaction: Because automation offers employees more time to focus on other — and often less repetitive — tasks, it's likely to result in improved job satisfaction and engagement. Moreover, increased time allows for further human interaction in the workplace. Employees appreciate the opportunity to contribute on diverse projects while improving important office relationships.
- Additional employee skills: Upskilling is also a critical unintended benefit of automation. Not only will workers need to learn how these systems will operate, but they will also be focusing on more complex projects — which will inevitably lead to improved skills. This also results in more satisfied employees who value the opportunity to learn these skills and gain new responsibilities within the organization.
- Higher retention rates: While employees continue to leave their jobs, the importance of retention can't be underestimated. Employees being involved in diverse projects, having the opportunity to learn new skills and possibly experiencing new roles and responsibilities is likely to reduce turnover. The subsequent increase in morale, engagement and satisfaction is critical for long-term retention.
Constantly evolving technology means automation is likely here to stay. But, with the strategic implementation of these processes organizations can expect copious benefits as a result — even some advantages they might not have initially anticipated.