Here at T-Tech, we want to live in a world where technology is the driving force of all businesses, where we work in tandem with our clients to push the boundaries of technological capability, and are true enablers of success within a company ecosystem. 

New technology is reshaping our lives, both professional and personal. So, how do companies ensure they are not only keeping up but staying ahead? A McKinsey¹ report states that 45% of today's work could be automated.

Lets take a moment to let that sink in...

Business leaders need to firstly focus on understanding and truly appreciating what automation can achieve in the workplace. A leader needs to have this buy in on a personal level to really leverage the potential. Whilst cutting costs can be the easy sell on this story, this is not about cutting headcount, or robots on a factory floor. The data below is based on over 800 differing occupations: from service workers, doctors, and professional services. This is about the 60% of occupations that could have 30% or more of their role automated.

This means more time to do the things that truly matter.. better. This is about facilitating workplaces where your most expensive resource,  being your people, can spend time not only doing more productive things for the business, but also for themselves. This is about tapping into the mentality of what really matters to your business and then gaining the time to ultimately achieve those goals.

Automation by numbers:

  1. 30% of roles could be automated - that has the potential to save 12 hours a week
  2. Less than 5% of jobs could be replaced entirely by technology
  3. A conservative revenue increase of £1,800 a week² could be placed on higher paid occupations
  4. Reported results of 10% increased sales³
  5. 20% increase in cash collection³
  6. Churn decline of 20%³

Not a cost reduction story

Elimination of labour could be the spin, but really that is just a lazy approach to exploring the value of automation. Things to consider include understanding customers on a deeper level and bettering their experience; improving operational processes and activities; increasing speed and ability to scale; and making the workplace one where people can spend more time on tasks that humans really can make an impact on (not the manual and mundane tasks that require completion).

By 2020, half the global workforce will be millennial's. There are countless reports you can read that demonstrate the ever evolving values of this breed of employee. They care more about flexibility, communication and work life balance, but yet they work long hours and are often hidden behind a screen. Empowering the role of automation and IT investment, not only aligns to the future of this tech savvy workforce, but also can facilitate communication, increase flexibility and potentially enable the hours in work to be spent more productively.

The business leader's plan of attack

The possibilities are endless and change is only constant, so what can an executive do to get automation on the agenda with an actionable plan?

The strategic view and tactical approach

First, examine current business systems and processes, and identify what business lines would benefit from improvements in speed, flexibility, quality and service. A hint would be to look at activity that works around data processing and collection, or predictable processes with determined variables: low-judgement, high error prone or compliance needy tasks. These are likely to be best bet candidates. 

Getting true value from automation can often involve process re-engineering, which may impact more than just the piece of the puzzle being automated. This can deliver tangible benefits across the business for training, transparency, and speed, to on board employees and/or clients. This can not only reduce cost, but also eliminate error and raise customer satisfaction.

The second part of this exploration journey is to look beyond the here and now of the business and industry they operate in and imagine a world where phase one automation was in existence... so what next? Could your business be a disruptor? Could automation change the industry operating model? Could this open previous barriers to entry? 

Integration into the workplace

Any change in how a business, department, or person is required to operate will need to be managed strategically. Considerations include the human impact, how the workforce is organised and structured, and training may need to be rewritten. Who you recruit, and the skills they were originally required to have, may alter.

Change management is not like flicking a light switch, it is more like stoking a fire; it requires ongoing attention and repeated reinforcement. It needs ownership and desire to achieve the end goal, and to ensure the team are all working towards the same outcome. People's skills may need to be reviewed and reallocated to new roles and tasks, based on the changes incurred. Any business wanting to undertake this move will need a strategy regarding talent management to navigate the transition. 

Getting the job done or choosing not to!

Once you have got your head around the above steps, you may need to re-evaluate and question the why of what you are looking to achieve. Automation should not be used as a "fix" for a poorly defined or managed process, nor should it be automated without considering other ways of achieving the same outcome. You want to ensure the output of automation has a net positive result. It may be effective to streamline the process itself, or to eliminate parts of it, rather than investing time and effort into automating a part of your business (that may not be adding the value it once was).

Often manual processes are completed in "silos or silence" , so drawing on your teams experience and what they spend their time on will be crucial. The need for coordination and collaboration between departments is heightened when considering and delivering new technology in a business, thus it might be a good idea to create a business process/change management group.

Here at T-Tech, we often meet with clients who are struggling to keep up with or are frustrated by moving too slow with technology. Either way the crux of the problem is resource - not having enough, or the right ones. Technology is moving at a pace that no one person can constantly be up to speed with, and with the best will in the world, an in house employee will always find it harder to focus on a project outside of their day to day role. This can cause projects to move slowly, or never have the real momentum required for triumph.

We believe the investment in resource to get stuck in from the start, deliver to a timeline and budget, and also offer an outsider viewpoint, is vital to success. By engaging a T-Tech virtual CIO/IT director into your automation or process re-design, you can leverage the knowledge of the whole team and gain access to innovations, channels and insight, that may not be as accessible from the outside. Making automation a reality is closer than you think when you have T-Tech on your side.

At T-Tech, we have recently partnered with a leading Automation partner and are excited about the current pilots running across our client base. The potential to really make an impact and deliver positive change are far-reaching - Are you ready to get on board?

1. McKinsey Report: "Four fundamentals of workplace automation" By Michael Chui, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi

2. Based on 6 hours saved through automation for a fee earner charging £300 an hour

3. McKinsey Report: "An executive guide to machine learning" By Dorian Pyle and Cristina San José