An Ultimate Guide to Data Automation

Overview

The business environment of the modern day is competitive, and it has become imperative for companies and organizations to focus on adding value to the company.

There are numerous technological advances that are helping business owners to achieve this thorough a variety of automation processes.

Despite this, the in-depth potential contained in different data automated processes, such as data automation, must still reach a considerable number of businesses around the world.

Understanding the importance of automation processes and being able to use it practically are two different aspects that form part of the same perspective.

Despite being aware of the advantages that automation processes have, a lot of business owners fail to benefit as they are not able to implement it completely or successfully.

The era in which machines start performing more tasks and subsequently reducing manual labour and human intervention is growing with the advent of new and improved technologies.

Data Automation

What is Data Automation?

When considered in a technical sense, Data Automation is the use of intelligent processes along with various equipment or systems to collect, process, or store large portions of data.

This eliminates manual execution and human intervention by using machines, software and several other applications of Artificial Intelligence which is then called Data Automation.

Manual feeding, processing, and execution of data can take a lot of time and Data Automation shortens this substantially. Despite time saved, making use of Data Automation serves more purposes than merely that.

Businesses have mundane and recurring tasks which do not necessarily need human intelligence for execution, and this is one of the major areas where Data Automation can be of relevant use.

Data Automation make such executions more efficient and significantly less error-prone in addition to it being an efficient trouble-shooter for businesses.

Where does process and Data Automation fit into the Era of Big Data?

Both process and data automation had been mainly used in either plant or factory environments before 2010. Other businesses had used it for the optimization and enhancement of business models.

In a time where big data is quite literally all around us, both process and data automation have started taking on new meanings.

It is imperative to consider the place of automation in several applications to understand where exactly data automation fits into it all, namely:

  • Automation and the Internet of Things along with built-system engineering, and
  • Process and data automation used as a disruptive technology especially in business sectors

IoT and Built-System Engineering

When looking at its place in built-system engineering and process and data automation, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Engineers have used automation in both SCADA and industrial systems for decades.

Automation has been used for a variety of purposes to monitor, control, and report on their built-systems and the operations thereof. However, there was one fatal flaw, the lack of communication which plagued this industry.

The lack of communication pertained specifically to the connections between equipment as well as process control which was a hard-wired. The nature of this connection rendered any process optimization efforts useless.

In addition to this, the data that had been produced while the equipment was in operation was meant to be used only to a certain extent namely monitoring and control, after which it was immediately discarded.

Due to great advances in both information and communication technologies in more recent years, the internet of things, or IoT as it is more commonly known, was brought forth.

This allows for each machine in these built systems to not only be connected to, but also controlled by, the internet. There have been great strides made in technologies which have made it possible for organizations to store massive amounts of machine-generated data.

This has enabled these organizations to use the stored data to not only refine but also optimize the operations contained in their network as well as being able to optimize each piece of equipment.

There have been numerous organizations that have seen numerous improvements as soon as they connected their equipment to an IoT network which not only decreased manufacturing complexity, but increased productivity along with:

  • Increases in throughput
  • Decreases in certain defects, and
  • Increases in equipment effectiveness.

Process and Data Automation – disruptive technology in the business sector

By the early 1990’s there had been numerous businesses in the sector that had already begun to use Enterprise Resource Planning, or otherwise referred to as ERP, software to:

  • Automate certain business processes
  • To optimize their operations, and to
  • Improve decision-support especially for organizational decision-makers.

Although these ERP solutions could successfully facilitate business process automation, the results thereof cane at an extremely high cost and only after several years of conceited effort to obtain such results.

In years to come, Big Data technologies significantly helped organizations in the fight to overcome limitations associated with business process automation.

With the advent of the Big Data era, organizations were able to store and process petabytes of business data more speedily and in a cost-effective manner. In addition, the data could be processed in a single and centralized data hub.

To ingest, process, and analyse data, it can now take organizations anything from a few minutes to only a few weeks, depending on the big data technologies that the organization is utilizing.

Depending on the technology used, organizations can successfully increase their operational efficiencies, decrease operational costs associated with big data, and increase the scalability of big data systems as result of increases in requirements for IT resources and support staff.

How can organizations apply automation to get more out of their data?

There have been countless instances where the discussion on both Machine Learning alongside Artificial Intelligence has improved operations and the way that organizations are able to process and utilize data.

When thinking about affordability, it is difficult to believe that even the smallest of organizations can afford the automation of processes.

Yet, there are so many organisations that, despite their size, can profess how AI is a crucial component in data management strategies.

Not only does data automation save organizations a substantial amount of time and subsequently increase productivity, but it allows organizations to decipher their data better and more accurately when processes are automated as opposed to manual processing.

Organisations can use data automation in numerous ways to reap the benefits thereof.

1.   Repetitive Tasks are minimized

In numerous industries and businesses there are tasks that are overly repetitive that put strain on the employees who perform them and create the risk of mistakes made due to the monotonous nature of the task.

This can easily be avoided by automating such tasks and processes. There are numerous examples of such tasks such as the entering of sales figures.

Data science automation takes care of such duties and develops new and improved ways to create adaptive solutions. By making use of business intelligence, systems can pull information from order sheets and inventory such information according to pricing.

2.   Increased reliability in data analysis

Despite the size of an organization, there is bound to be substantial amounts of data. It would be humanly impossible to sift through all the facts and to synthesize an accurate report.

When automating this process, it will take a machine a minute, and even less, to process the data and to represent it in a report or a chart.

In using data automation, organizations are also able to create forecast reports which they can use to create goals for their staff. It allows for the viewing of territories covered and to see where there is a need to place staff more efficiently in the organization.

It also allows organizations to identify any weaknesses in their processes and to correct them efficiently. Data automation improves accuracy in reports and analysis, thus removing human error from the equation.

There are however some errors that may present themselves as information is entered into the database, but it is seldom depending on how the automation has been set up, and even these errors can be corrected faster and more effectively.

3.   More control over inventory and logistics

There are numerous small organisations and businesses that do not always track their inventory or use manual systems to do so as it is a tedious and cumbersome task.

This great lack in organization often results in stock shortages or the overstocking on items that do not have a high demand. The risk that these organisations run is both that of cash flow issues and unhappy customers.

Automation, however, allows these organisations to better track what is sold and subsequently aids in the management of inventory, and the ordering of items that there is a demand for.

Data automation allows the employees of such organisations to move through processes both quickly and smoothly with each employee completing their own task with the result being a smooth, undeterred process flow from one area to the next.

4.   Customer relationships can be managed more effectively

Customer relationship management, or otherwise known as CRM, software allows organizations to keep in touch with their customers. This allows for the effective solving of issues along with pinpointing trends that may form amongst customers.

Should a regular customer change their pattern of purchase or the trend thereof, it would be easier for an organisation to recognise the change when using data automation as opposed to relying on human memory or manual systems.

Real-world examples of automation in the workplace

There is ongoing controversy surrounding automation of processes and the existential fear that robots will inevitably replace all humans in the workplace, and the world.

Despite this, automation has numerous benefits and machines are helping with productivity and the elimination of tedious, time-consuming tasks so that focus can be placed on numerous other areas where human intervention is essential.

1.   Employee Analytics

Automation in this area helps Human Resources in organisations make sense of vast amounts of employee data. This allows for a better understanding of employee, and group dynamics, and subsequent visual representation of employee data.

It allows for the analysis of the staff compliment and employee base, and it also allows for hands-on surveys from employees regarding job satisfaction, complaints, and suggestions for improvements in numerous areas.

2.   Hiring processes

This is a crucial area in any organization, but it involves a tedious and time-consuming task of manually filtering through resumes and applications to identify key and potential candidates for a certain position.

By automating this process, resumes and applications can more effectively be analysed to identify potential candidates based on set parameters for the system, and through automated application tracking, it improves the candidate experience.

Although, this system is not perfect, and errors may occur. The system may miss potential candidates and it may also result in applicants trying to cheat the system if they know that automated processes are used to sift through applications.

3.   Help desk support for employees

Self-help options and chat bots are becoming increasingly more popular, and they are not only limited to customer requests and queries. Such technology can be applied internally in organizations on various topics and platforms as well.

Employees can send a question, query or request through email, SMS, live chat, and numerous other platforms, and obtain the information that they need almost immediately.

4.   Meetings

Meetings and the organising thereof can be tedious as it involves so many factors. There are, however, numerous new ways in which such tedious tasks such as checking the availability of participants through email, can be done effortlessly.

5.   Auto-filling of forms

When completing online forms and applications, it is a tedious and monotonous task when having to provide the same information time and again.

However, there are numerous tools available that allow for information to be auto filled which feature strong encryption technology to ensure that user data and information remain safe across platforms, and pages.

6.   Facility Management

With facilities management software, there are numerous organizations that have cut down on numerous costs by automating services.

By making use of workplace tools, employees can be connected to office buildings and workplace systems to either book meetings or check availability of boardrooms and participants, control lighting, request temperature changes, and more.

7.   Office Design

Automated processes can allow for the total design of a workplace according to the needs of the organization and can provide a digitalized environment which allows for the identification of improvements before the final draft.

It allows for a virtual tour of the workplace before the first brick has been laid, and it allows for any new redesign prospects of existing features to create an improved workplace according to the needs of the organisation.

8.   Customer Support

Customers require support nearly 24/7 when considering that a lot of organisations cater for customers in different time zones. This is where automated systems such as chat bots come in handy.

These provide an effective way for customers to have their queries resolved while sparing employees from long shifts.

9.   E-Signatures

Electronic signatures not only provide for a faster way to sign documents on the go, but it is also a more environmentally friendly approach as opposed to printing lengthy contracts, reports, and other documents that require signatures.

This improves the speed of document prepping, and it is a way to monitor and secure documents. In addition, it also saves a substantial amount of office space where filing and archiving is concerned.

Final Thoughts and the benefits of Data Automation

Data Automation processes have increased and improved during recent years as technologies focusses specifically on automation have increased and improved. Data Automation is not only productive, but cost-effective in the long run.

In using automation, organisations are assured that there is a level of consistency in their processes and results, which is a major flaw where manual data execution is concerned and may affect results and subsequent actions greatly.

Data automation helps to add real value and to improve internal processes as well as the processes between the business and the customer to ensure long-lasting relationships, added value, and continued customer satisfaction.

Large amounts of data are no longer overwhelming, and it takes substantially less time to sift through data to obtain relevant information and to provide accurate results, feedback, and reports on various aspects of the business.

With more technologies emerging in the field of both machine learning and AI, software which can be utilized in a variety of ways will become more affordable and widespread for organisations to use as they see fit.

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