Process automation has been upon us for more than a decade yet for many organizations it feels like the real push forward came about because of Covid-19.

During the How Automation is Revolutionizing Business Processes for SMBs webinar, featuring James McQuivey, VP and Principal Analyst of Forrester Research, Quadient asked attendees on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being fully manual and 5 being fully automated) how automated they felt their back-office processes or document workflow were today. Over half felt they were well on their way to full automation, while the other half felt they still had a way to go. 

no automation
Quick Poll Quadient Webinar, March 2021

The pandemic shot digital transformation to a top business priority for many SMBs, and the rate at which businesses as a whole have implemented digital collaboration tools over the last year and a half has accelerated exponentially since 2019.  “The pandemic has given business process automation a bigger boost than it was already on after 10 years of accumulated effort,” explains James McQuivey, author of Digital Disruption, Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation. We surveyed workers in the US, UK, and Australia. 24% of them told us that automation at work had gone up because of the pandemic.”

SMBs that have embraced process automation have strengthened their businesses. While it seems a portion has made great strides in driving paperless initiatives and implementing a digital strategy when it comes to customer communications, for some organizations there is still work to be done.

Quadient dove into this area of discussion as well asking attendees, “What percentage of jobs do you think will be affected by automation by the end of this decade?”

remote work future
Quick Poll Quadient Webinar, March 2021

Sixty-six percent of the attendees felt that 41-80% of jobs would be affected by automation in the very near future. “In a lot of surveys we do,” says McQuivey, “when we ask people what they think of when we say ‘automation’ they think of robotic automation like the Kiva robots that do a lot of warehouse management for Amazon or the self-automated kiosks at McDonald’s.”

Then there is the concern workers have that the adoption of automated document management will negatively impact their jobs or their career. This was confirmed in another survey James McQuivey and his team conducted. “We posed the question, ‘Do you agree that robotic technology replacing things that humans do will affect you positively or negatively. Only 18% of people said that it would affect them positively.”

Many employees when they hear about automation efforts in the workplace, associate it with being replaced by a program with a special algorithm that will do their job for them.  But that is not the case. If automation is implemented correctly, for example into existing document process workflows, it alleviates workers from mind-numbing, tedious work. This provides workers with more time to devote to higher-value tasks that not only motivate employees but give them the opportunity to make more valuable contributions to the business. 

Starbucks experienced this outcome when they automated some of their day-to-day business processes. “Starbucks freed up 17 hours a week for store managers,” says James McQuivey. “They automated manual tasks like tracking inventory and writing out schedules. Things that take time and stop managers from doing what they do best, which is being with people, both staff and customers.”

This point was reinforced by a third poll that Quadient conducted. When asked to predict on a scale of 1 to 5 where do you see your business in 3 years?”

3 years from now
Quick Poll Quadient Webinar, March 2021

Eighty-six percent of the respondents gave their organizations a score of 3 out 5 or 4 out of 5. “SMBs have an opportunity to reap rapid automation gains,” says James McQuivey in regards to automating the back office.  The adoption of business process automation unlocks the potential of employees because it not only frees them from having to do repetitive, mundane tasks but also injects agility, flexibility, and visibility into their operations. Organizations can process documents faster, with more accuracy, and according to customer preference. 

Watch our webinar replay How Automation is Revolutionizing Business Processes for SMBs to learn more about how process automation has benefitted several organizations and how your organization could benefit from a multi-channel document delivery solution like Quadient Impress

 

Milda Leonard

Milda Leonard

Content Marketing Manager, Business Process Automation

Milda Leonard manages the global content marketing function for Quadient's Business Process Automation pillar focusing on Quadient Impress. 

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