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Busting Myths About Automation

Busting Myths About Automation

Regardless of where you use automation, your employees need to understand its benefits, including lower costs, efficient growth, and improved CX.

Remember this rule of thumb as you seek business improvements via technology: the more you educate, the better you’ll automate.

It’s an important rule because, regardless of where you want to use automation, your employees need to understand the business benefit and what the transition will look like. This goes beyond the formal training in the technology or tools you’re deploying in your company. It’s about providing employees insight into your strategy, since they will likely play a key role in helping to execute it.

Automation should never be seen as scary or threatening to your team. It should always be positioned for what it is: a means to lower costs, drive more efficient growth and ultimately improve the customer experience. That requires thinking about the way you’ll communicate your plan to automate, and what you want your employees to keep top of mind.

There will be some companies, for instance, where automation will mean making doing away with an old, manual and time-intensive process. As frustrating or onerous as that traditional process may be, however, it may be all employees have known since they’ve been working with the company. Automation is an unknown – and that’s where the fears tend to come in.

Automation also turns a lot of work into a data-driven activity. Instead of getting tasks done with pen and paper or with siloed applications, an automated process may require employees to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure everything is working as it should. Their role becomes one of oversight and sometimes course-correction so that business outcomes will are achieved.

The biggest mistake to avoid is assuming that employees will approach the concept of automation as though it were a blank slate. Even if they have never used the technology or tools being proposed, they might have heard about automation projects gone wrong in other organizations. They might make assumptions based upon something they’ve read or watched online.

When imaginations run wild, myths about automation can easily take hold. It’s your job to dispel those myths so that the business can move forward with employee buy-in.

Even if they’re not actively talking about them, take your team through some of the following most common myths, and help them to see the light:

Myth No. 1: Automation is the beginning of massive downsizing

No one wants to lose their job, especially in a challenging economy. Automation can be perceived as a way for companies to do away with the people in order to bring their expenses down.

This myth ignores the fact that many companies have been a lot of time and other resources to train and develop their best people. Automation should be a way to give them more time to make the most of their talents. This is true even when automation is paired with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).

Though it can take some tasks away, automation still requires human beings to make decisions and solve problems. They’ll just be problems that tend to have a bigger impact on the business as a whole.

Myth No. 2: Automation is better suited to large enterprises

When a company employees thousands of people and serves millions of customers around the world, you can wrap your head around the idea that there is likely a need for automation to address some needs. But what about a small to medium-sized business (SMB) – the kind that makes up the majority of companies in Canada?

Those firms need to automation too, because a smaller headcount doesn’t mean they have limited ambitions. Technology has actually paved the way for many SMBs to look and operate more like their larger counterparts, scaling operations like sales, marketing and customer service without adding personnel.

Teach your team that automation is a means to help your SMB compete with the biggest competitors in your industry, super-charging the capabilities in ways they have never witnessed before.

Myth No. 3: Automation is complex and difficult to master

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, right? Not if those “dogs” are employees. Just because team members are highly experienced in doing their job with old processes doesn’t preclude them from getting up to speed with automated processes.

Resources like Trailhead are full of courses that can help shorten the learning curve as you begin to automate core functions within your business. Consider whether you can allow relevant staff to attend conferences or events that let them see demos of automation platforms or hear from thought leaders on successful deployments.

Upskilling and reskilling is an essential element of successful automation, because as you’re trying to maximize the potential of your people as well as streamline processes.

Myth No. 4: Automation is once-and-done

Employees might ask themselves –and each other – when it will all be over. When will the company be finished deploying a new platform or tool so they can get back to normal?

The honest answer is that “normal” is never the real objective here. The most successful automation is ongoing. Once you initially deploy a solution in one line of business or area of operations, for example, companies may realize they could achieve similar benefits by doing the same thing elsewhere.

In other cases, there may be opportunities to introduce more automation in the same area. The company might realize that automating one step in a process was useful, but that automating additional steps will take customer and employee experiences even further.

Technological innovation means there will always be additional features and functionality that get added to a tool or platform. There might also be complementary technologies that could be layered onto the initial solution to drive even better results.

Whatever the myths about automation are in your company, your approach should be the same. First, confront the myth. Second, explain the reality. Third, reassure your team that they are a critical part of this journey, and that you’ll get to where you need when everyone focuses on making automation work for the benefit of the company and its customers.

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