This article is part of our Distributed Enterprises Series
As we move towards the end of our Distributed Enterprise Series, let’s take a look at a technology that is always changing, evolving, and providing increasingly positive results for businesses that choose to adopt it. I’m talking about the process of automation, something that can be deployed in as many different ways as you can imagine and that will surely contribute to any company’s day-to-day operations.
Starting From the Beginning
First things first: despite being often confused with and talked about alongside one another, automation is very different from artificial intelligence. While the latter deals with teaching a machine to adapt and make decisions broadly based on human input, the former is a much more direct process in which a computer is programmed to execute repetitive tasks and functions previously performed by a human worker. This frees up the staff to do other, oftentimes more important things.
At the end of the day, this means 2 things. First and foremost, the automating process ultimately depends entirely on human actions and decisions. The automation infrastructure will be deployed on processes decided by whoever is programming it and will do whatever it’s being programmed to do. Plan it the wrong way, and you’ll get less than optimal results.
That’s why it’s so important to enlist a seasoned professional to see your automation efforts to fruition. Not only will they be able to set everything up properly, but they’ll also be able to identify the best strategies to employ.
Furthermore, automation also comes in almost all shapes and sizes. It’s not something that only gigantic multinational corporations can employ, given that there is a multitude of processes that can be automated independently. This means that you don’t necessarily have to do an enormous investment and turn your whole company into an automated independent organization. You can automate key tasks and still see significant results.
Automation Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
IBM identifies and details 4 different types of automation that can be implemented in a company, each with its own characteristics and context in which it would be more appropriately applied:
- Basic automation. This definitely is something that most companies have probably come into contact with at one time or another. It relates to automating simple and repetitive tasks that are part of a business’ everyday activities, such as creating tickets in your project management software or scheduling recurring events.
- Process automation. This relates to more specific processes which are automated in search of more consistency and uniformity in their execution. This may also eventually lead to increased efficiency, since it can reduce minor errors, such as forgetting to email an employee when a task moves ahead in the workflow.
- Advanced automation. This is where different technologies come into play and you can integrate automation processes with machine learning and even dabble in the use of artificial intelligence. Here we’re talking about data analysis to derive business insights, for instance, using algorithms to speed up the work that would take longer to be done by humans.
- Intelligent automation. The crème de la crème of the automation process in terms of range and complexity, this option leverages artificial intelligence to empower and promote machine learning. It can be deployed in the form of virtual assistants, for example, to automate the interaction with customers on an online platform.
As with most technology projects, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that can be implemented off the shelf. It’s fundamental to analyze not only your company’s specific business needs, but also your context, to arrive at the option that will provide you the best possible results.
A Successful Partnership
Throughout the many installments of our Distributed Enterprise Series, we delved on several important subjects that surround the issue. We started by explaining what Distributed Enterprises actually are and how you can devise a successful strategy if you’re planning to adopt the work model. We have also detailed essential tools and solutions a distributed enterprise must enlist to succeed and talked about the current challenges in securing these companies, given their specific architecture.
If you’ve been paying attention, it’s quite clear why automation would be such an interesting strategy to adopt when you work under a distributed model. The essence of this model makes for faster, more efficient, and more agile work, especially considering the range of talent and professionals to which you’ll have access if we remove the geographical boundaries in hiring and retaining talent.
On the other hand, not having centralized headquarters where you can house your more basic operations means you need to devise specific strategies for your context. That’s where automation comes to the rescue.
By employing specialized software solutions it’s possible to automate many of the day-to-day activities and functions that would be harder to successfully carry out under a distributed model. This is more than a trend, it’s a very interesting path many businesses are adopting. Actually, Gartner goes one step further and highlights how hyperautomation is coming into play nowadays on its Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022. Also on the list? Yes, you guessed it, distributed enterprises. Putting the distributed model and automation side-by-side, then, should be a no-brainer.
Tasks such as scheduling, jobs assignment, ticket management on an agile platform, onboarding and offboarding, training and development, bookkeeping, and employee technical support – at least for the most basic questions and easy-to-solve issues – can be automated and controlled remotely to make both your life and the lives of your remote employees easier.
Centralizing the planning and management of these automated tasks will empower an enterprise working under a distributed model to achieve more efficiency, better results, and ultimately provide considerable business value.
More related articles on our Distributed Enterprises Series.