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Free time: how automation can unlock your company’s potential

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Dreamforce Speaker Nicole Hardin discusses how automation can lead to business growth

No one goes into business to create spreadsheets. Tasks like invoicing, billing and chasing accounts receivables are necessary evils—but they’re also time-consuming, taking valuable hours away from more strategic, big-picture activities. We’d all like to spend more time on the parts of the business that drive success and less time on administration if we could. Now, advances in automation and artificial intelligence are letting us do just that.

Automation and AI are revolutionizing many business functions, not just the IT department. According to Tata Consultancy, 70 percent of executives surveyed believe that, by 2020, AI will have its greatest impact on departments such as marketing, customer service, finance and human resources. By freeing these departments from everyday manual tasks, AI will give your employees greater time to refocus and reprioritize their efforts.

To see how automation can transform a business, let’s look at one function that can eat up employees’ valuable time: customer service. Cognitive technologies are already helping companies automate their customer service processes. According to Tata Consultant’s report, respondents are using AI to answer customer queries (39 percent), automate call distribution (48 percent), identify training needs (36 percent) and even guide service agents on how to resolve customer issues (42 percent).

By taking advantage of these efficiencies, companies can transform how they deliver customer value. When agents don’t need to worry about mundane tasks like getting calls to the right person or creating schedules, they gain more time to engage with customers and really focus on resolving their issues, which strengthens loyalty to the business.

Or consider another example: the potential impact of automation and AI on a company’s finance department. When finance leaders are confident that administrative tasks are being handled accurately and efficiently by automation, they no longer have to spend precious time on “left-brain” work like invoice processing, report generation and reconciliation, according to professional services firm Genpact.

Instead, leaders are free to focus on “right-brain” tasks such as decision-making, developing innovative strategies for success and gauging risks to the business, all of which are more likely to have a positive impact on the business. Leaders using AI tools can also scout new partnership deals and size up potential new markets and customers.

While no one gets into business to push and pull reports, it’s safe to say that most everyone wants to be the “hero”—that is, the person who can spearhead strategic initiatives, analyze why a new product is faltering and envision how a turnaround can be engineered. Relieved from the burden of processing and administration, your business can make room for many more heroes who deliver added value instead of just spreadsheets.

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