How to Turn Automation into Innovation

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Artificial intelligence and automated technologies offer a lot of potential for re-engineering and enhancing core business processes. Many times, these improved processes will function entirely differently, fully automatically, and on their own, freeing up time that was previously used by people to perform pointless and repetitive tasks. But utilizing that spare time for innovation is the secret to profiting from automation. Our automation efforts may fall short in this area. 

Making Innovation Out of Automation 

According to researchers, businesses that foster innovation and creativity outperform their rivals by increasing market share, revenue growth, and customer satisfaction. According to a Forrester study, 82% of the leaders polled thought there was a direct link between creativity and successful business outcomes. Additionally, more than two-thirds of the businesses that received high marks for encouraging creativity have won accolades and recognition for being the “best places to work.” This is significant because almost a third of working-age Americans would accept a pay cut in exchange for a position that encouraged greater creativity. 

Why is there such a dearth of creativity today if it is so crucial to organizational performance? We are all too busy multitasking, which is why. You can bet that the “culture of busy” will prevent you from producing original, fresh ideas if the job description says that you “must be able to work in a fast-paced environment.” In other words, there is no room for innovation when you are busy being busy. 

Innovation Unlocking 

Business process automation should be used to help maximize human activities so that they can add value to the organization rather than simply survive. The concept is not new; the age-old promise of technology has been that it will give us more time to spend on what matters most — or, at the very least, allow us to get more done. However, the risk is that we will simply do more of the same, finding new ways to be busy even as automation allows us to be more productive. So, executives and leaders must use automation not just to introduce technology into the workflow and reduce headcount, but also to foster a culture that provides employees with the bandwidth to be creative and innovative rather than just busy with other routine tasks. Consider the following factors in your strategy’s success. 

Select the Appropriate Tool  

How do you know which technological tools are best for you, with so many options? Choose the tool that best meets your organization’s needs in terms of scalability, capabilities, and user types (technical or non-technical). Some tools, for example, are designed to provide fully customizable application development capabilities, whereas others are designed for ease of use and are process specific. Which is the best option for you? Consider how easily non-technical business users can adopt the system and changes without requiring extensive training or relying on expensive consultants. 

Establish Your Objectives 

What do you need to achieve with automation to be more innovative? Define your objectives and then work backward to achieve them. The more specific and codified your goals and objectives, the easier it will be to calculate a return on investment for the technology and effort. This strategy makes good business sense because automation requires a significant investment of both time and money. It is critical to continuously assess the effectiveness of your changes and ensure that the results are worth the investment at each stage. If things do not go as planned, I recommend using a phased strategy rather than an all-or-nothing approach so you can pull the plug with minimal investment. 

Moving Ahead 

Business process automation is not a one-time event. It is a dynamic and ever-changing approach to innovation. Follow these best practices to maximize the value of your technology investments and bridge the automation-innovation gap. Look for providers and resources that have the right combination of expertise, perspective, and capabilities to help you make the most of business process automation. 

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