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Want To Be More Efficient and Productive? Automate More of Your Business

robots helping humans do work
Investments in automation have accelerated as it has gotten more sophisticated and spreads to every corner of the organization. [BRO Vector/Getty]

Lots of people waste lots of time doing things that don't add value to their jobs or the business. You’ve dipped your toe into automating some of them. Time to dive in and see what’s possible.

The big trend

Investment in business automation and cloud computing has accelerated as the technology gets more sophisticated. According to a Deloitte survey, 13% said their organisation has implemented over 50 automations, up from just 4% who did so in 2018.

Why it matter

Business leaders are prioritising technology investments that drive efficiency and productivity, and business automation is at the top of that list. Companies that take a broad view of automation (beyond simple, task-based desktop automations) have saved hundreds of millions of dollars and increased productivity. 

From sales teams to accounts, automation has the power to help power every department. According to our latest State of Sales, 97% of sales leaders and sales operations pros say AI gives reps more time to sell. This is the broad appeal of automation – supporting any team to reduce manual, administrative tasks so they can focus on work that matters.

What your company can do

Apply automation anywhere, and everywhere:

  • Finance and accounting. Frees up time for more strategic things like analysis, strategy, and collaboration. One example, automated invoicing and approval routing. 
  • Marketing. Helps you target customers with automated messages across channels. Identify audiences, design relevant content and automatically trigger actions. 
  • Customer service. Next generation service automation, using AI, augmented reality and the Internet of Things (IoT) can predict service events and automatically resolve them through digital channels. 
  • Human resources. Automate job application processing, response tracking and interview scheduling, onboarding and offboarding, payroll management and benefits administration.

Want to learn more? Here’s a deeper look.

Automating tasks makes workers happier and more productive

Many knowledge workers waste a lot of time manually entering and retrieving information between multiple systems as part of a multi-step, manual process. This is not the best use of a person’s time, and could erode morale and employee engagement. 

Automation for every team

Efficiency, productivity and cost containment are top priorities for business leaders. You can automate and integrate work across every business function and system, so you can focus on the things that grow your business.

“Automating rote tasks gives workers empowerment to focus on the more strategic things they want to do, the reason they took the job,” said Joe Surprenant, sales leader across Deloitte’s artificial intelligence (AI) and data ops practices. “Leveraging automation keeps up the energy and the enthusiasm of the workforce, which is a huge imperative given the talent crunch. Automation is playing a major role in workforce engagement.” 

He said it even starts before someone is hired. When HR processes are automated, it sends a positive signal to prospective employees that the company is digital-first. 

How can companies identify opportunities for automation? Matt McLarty, global field chief technology officer and vice president of the digital transformation office at Mulesoft, said one large financial services firm did it by asking employees a simple question: What’s the dumbest thing you have to do every day?

“They made it into a contest, with prizes,” he said. “People were so frustrated about wasting their time on this stuff that they volunteered all this information, which created a groundswell for the company to automate those things.” 

Local law firm Law Squared is the perfect example of automation not only driving business growth, but improving employee satisfaction. Previously they relied on a myriad of silos for processing, accounts, invoicing, customer management, proposal generation, and plenty more everyday processes.

But with a single, holistic solution in place, they are able to automate processes for client onboarding, delivery of legal services, invoicing and more. 

End-to-end management of clients and services has been streamlined so the team can spend time on the projects and tasks that matter — nurturing and serving clients.

Business automation can be applied anywhere, and everywhere

You don’t need to understand how automation works. You just need to understand its impact and how powerful it can be.

Here’s how different departments can use automation to reduce manual processes, cut costs, reduce inefficiencies, and serve customers and employees better:

Finance and accounting

Automating financial planning and accounting functions frees up time for more strategically important things like analysis, strategy, and collaboration with stakeholders. One example, accounts payable. Data capture is automated (no more digging through miles of spreadsheets), invoices are automatically matched to relevant documents, and approvals are routed. This is not only more efficient, it reduces the risk of errors. 


There is no value in having to press “send” on every email, campaign, or social-media post you create. By automating marketing, you can target customers with automated messages across multiple channels. The best tools help you identify your audience, design the most relevant content, and automatically trigger actions like offers based on schedules and customer behaviour. These efforts can then be aligned with a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Customer service

It doesn’t take a human to answer basic questions like “How do I reset my password?” or “Where’s my order?” Chat bots, voice bots, and self-service are already in wide use, freeing up agents to help customers navigate more complex service situations. Next-generation service automation, using AI, augmented reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT), can predict service events and resolve them through digital channels. And it can give customers a total view of  service activity for self-service support and automated monitoring. 

Human resources

HR systems can automate a wide range of tasks, from job application processing, response tracking and interview scheduling to job offers, onboarding and offboarding, payroll management, and benefits administration. Using analytics, these systems can also provide insights into workforce sentiment, productivity, and engagement. 


One management consultancy estimated that about one-third of all sales tasks can be automated, yet many business decision makers don’t take advantage of the capability. Sales strategy and planning, lead identification and qualification, configuration, pricing and quotation, order management, and post sales are all areas ripe for automation. Early adopters, the firm noted, consistently report increased customer-facing time, higher customer satisfaction, and efficiency improvements of up to 15 percent. 

“A bot can sell a product or service,” said Tim Cortinovis, author of several books on automation. “A higher-value salesperson is selling and forging a connection between the customer and the business, which is more valuable.”

Leaders need to consider business automation a strategic asset

Like other digital transformations, the success of end-to-end automation relies on cultural changes driven from the top and executed in each function. Training, incentives, and key performance indicators are all essential. 

Spending on the two primary types of business automation, robotic process automation and intelligent process automation, is expected to hit $19.3 billion this year, up from $13.6 billion two years ago. The impact is profound, affecting the way we work, compete, innovate, and serve customers.  

“It takes a strong leader and strong head of the functional area to have the vision to say, ‘I know it’s tough and it’s going to be disruptive to our business to change the way we work, but if we don’t, we are going to lose talent, we’re going to lose to our competition, and we’re going to be left behind,’” Surprenant said. 

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Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

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