Despite research from the Royal Society for the Arts predicting that robots could replace four million private sector jobs within the next ten years in the UK just last year, a more realistic outlook is emerging. Another report from PwC, showed that UK GDP will be more than 10% higher in 2030 as a result of automation – the equivalent of an additional £232 billion.

This includes all aspects of automation – not just the more labour intensive, manufacturing roles that are logically going to be replaced by robots. We’re talking low-level, cognitively routine tasks that dominate just about any office in the UK today – particularly marketing departments. Think reporting, social media scheduling and arranging conference calls. If you speak to anyone having to do these tasks, you’re likely to hear that these kinds of tasks take a long time, are boring, and are generally a drag on morale. If you speak to business leaders, you’ll hear why it’s a real problem – it decreases overall productivity.

Productivity has become a business buzzword for good reason. It has become increasingly critical because customer expectations are higher than ever before. It’s easy to blame the likes of tech behemoths, like Netflix and Amazon Now, which provide an instant and satisfying service at the click of a button, but this phenomenon is more likely to be the culmination of different emerging technology that has shifted more power back to the consumer. Recent research from Salesforce found that 80% of customers rate the experience a company provides as important as its products or services, and 57% of consumers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.

As an employer, it’s more important than ever before to give your workforce the tools that they need to address these increasing workplace demands without contributing to employee burnout (which often leads to staff resignations). Happy customers and happy employees are not mutually exclusive – you need your staff to provide a good service to customers and if your employees are not happy, that’s not going to happen.

This is where automation comes in. This technology has become relevant to this issue because it can directly increase staff productivity and boost product or service quality, both of which are key to building a high-performance culture – a quality that all successful businesses have in common.

Moving automation in business from theory to practice

Automation holds the key to next level operational excellence. If that isn’t on your list of objectives for your business, it should be. The Harvard Business Review recently published findings from an extensive ten-year study of 12,000 companies on the importance of Operational Excellence and found that companies that succeeded in it increased their profits by $15 million (£10.6 million). If this number feels out of reach, the following might be more attainable: the companies had a 25% higher growth rate.

In order to find out which tasks companies are struggling with, and where automation could potentially step in to help, Wrike asked 3,000 workers in the UK, France and Germany which tasks were causing the greatest inefficiencies and frustrations for their employees. According to the research, the top answers were:

  • Creating and sending sales or marketing emails
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Documenting action items from meetings
  • Copying information between systems
  • Preparing reports for executives
  • Searching for the information required to complete tasks (according to Forrester, people can spend up to 35% of their time simply looking for the information they need to do their work, rather than doing the work itself)
  • File management and documentation
  • Routine processes and workflows
  • Assigning work to the right team member
  • The workforce needs automation

Many businesses will recognise the inefficiencies and frustration associated with the tasks above but the technology already exists to help businesses streamline many – if not all – of these processes. And employees are ready and waiting to hand these tasks over. According to our research, no less than 86% of employees are interested in technology that could cut the amount of time they spend on repetitive tasks and, in the UK, 73% believe that technology can help with operational efficiencies by taking on repetitive tasks.

Put simply, automation is a tool to help you scale your business without the associated chaos. Automation can give you peace of mind that repeatable tasks in your business are being efficiently handled, and nothing important is falling through the cracks. This also gives time back to your staff to think creatively and reduce overall workplace stress. By preventing burnout, you can build a better and more sustainable business in the long run and invest properly in your staff.