According to Pew Research, about 70% of Americans are wary of a world in which machines execute tasks instead of humans.
Clearly, “automation” is a scary word for a lot of people.
But automation doesn’t mean losing your job to a fleet of robots! Usually, automation involves streamlining smaller, repetitive tasks and letting technology take care of the things you don’t really want to do. We call this “workflow automation.”
Workflow automation currently saves workers around the world millions of hours every year. And as the technology continues to improve, it’s helping employees work smarter and realize their full potential. In fact, McKinsey predicts that automation could increase global productivity by 0.8-1.4% per year. (Comparatively, the steam engine boosted productivity by only .3%!)
Given these benefits, it should come as no surprise that many businesses have embraced workflow automation with open arms. Whether you work in HR, Marketing, or Sales, it’s already a key part of the work that you do every day. Here are a few ways automation has changed the way you work:
Workflow automation helped determine whether you were the right person for the job.
Before you even started your job, you encountered automation—though you probably didn’t realize it.
Companies are increasingly using workflow automation to streamline recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes. Sometimes, these automated workflows tie together many specialized HR apps that have different functions. There are also one-stop-shop applicant tracking programs that automate the hiring process from end-to-end. Some tools can even parse unstructured data (like the words on your resume) to make it easier for recruiters to narrow the field of candidates.
71% of employers believe that hiring automations improve the candidate experience.
On the whole, employers think that automation makes the hiring process more enjoyable—and not just for recruiters, but for potential employees as well. According to CareerBuilder, 71% of employers believe automated applicant tracking software improves the candidate experience. One thing’s for certain, though: it definitely improves the experience for HR teams, because it allows them to seamlessly follow applicants through the first steps of the employee journey.
Workflow automation made your work easier.
Automation can mean several things depending on the context. But on a fundamental level, automation simply means removing manual work from the equation. It reduces manual data entry, which in turn reduces errors and gives you time back.
At their core, many of the tools that you use most were created to automate manual processes. Computers, for example, were once people in a room crunching numbers. Phones once required human operators to direct your call from a physical switchboard; now, it happens automatically.
Likewise, many of your app-based workflows already incorporate some element of automation. Regardless of your department, you benefit from it day-to-day.
Automation could increase global productivity by 0.8-1.4% per year.
Work in marketing? You likely rely on automation to move leads between top-of-funnel sources (like landing pages) and your marketing hub app. Are you a sales guru? If you use a tool to enrich leads in your CRM, you’re using automation. More of a numbers person? Unless you manually move eCommerce transactions into your accounting app, you’re probably benefitting from some form of automation.
Outside of doing your actual job, almost everyone uses automation for common work-related tasks. Remember the last time you took an Uber during a business trip, and the app loaded your receipt into Expensify? Or the last time you asked a job candidate to schedule a phone interview with Calendly? That’s workflow automation at work!
Workflow automation means that things don’t grind to a halt when you’re OOO.
Can’t make it into the office on Monday? Stuck home sick with the flu? Don’t worry; workflow automation has you covered.
Thanks to technology, many workers enjoy increased flexibility when it comes to where, when, and how they do their work. Today, business doesn’t grind to a halt when you or a colleague are out of office. Automated workflows aren’t dependent on a human employee being present to start or stop them. So if you’re on vacation, you don’t have to worry about moving new leads into your CRM or escalating support tickets appropriately. It just happens. If it’s not happening, you should definitely check out the integrations section of your cloud apps or look into a full integration and automation platform, like Workato.
Workflow automation is also paving the way for non-traditional approaches to employment—like remote work or working a few part-time gigs rather than a full-time job.
Arun Sundararajan, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, explains: “It’s taking us from fulltime employment, which was the predominant way of earning a living in the 20th century, toward a wide variety of work arrangements,” he says.
Automation isn’t the future of work; it’s the present.
Though it’s often written about in futuristic terms, workflow automation isn’t a far-off dream (or nightmare)—it’s the present. It’s already changed the way you work in countless ways, many of which you probably take for granted.
Workflow automation is improving, however, and as the tech gets better, you can expect to see more of it at work. With developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, automation will get smarter as well, though we’re still a ways off from it replacing you completely.
So don’t be scared the next time you hear about how automation is going to completely change the way we work. You’ve already embraced it, and it’s made you far more productive!