Automation saves time, saves money and improves results. But while automation is an attractive prospect for business leaders, most companies are still doing much of their work manually. So, what are the biggest hurdles stopping decision-makers from starting their automation journey, and are they truly deal-breakers?
In 2020, Deloitte asked business leaders what they consider to be the biggest barriers to embracing automation. Let’s have a closer look at some of them, and explore how dooming they really are.
1. Cost to implement
Not surprisingly, cost is a concern for executives when it comes to investing in automation. Yet, it’s impossible to judge costs in isolation, without considering the return on investment.
While an automation project comes with a price tag, it’s arguably a small price to pay for the results that follow. According to KPMG, intelligent automation can save businesses between 40% and 75% in costs. It’s not a surprising estimate, as a recent survey found that the majority of employees believe that automation could save them up to two work hours a day, while some leaders estimated the potential daily time savings to be closer to three hours.
One of the beauties of an automation solution is that the results are direct and attributable. In fact, HBR’s Pulse survey revealed that 63% of businesses employing intelligent automation saw an increase in profitability, while nearly 8 in 10 respondents reported higher levels of productivity and efficiency. So while a custom process automation project tends to involve up-front costs, you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.
2. Lack of IT-readiness
Lack of IT readiness came up as another source of hesitation in Deloitte’s survey. Indeed, not everyone’s core business revolves around technology, nor should it! It’s a common misconception that a business has to be “high tech” to be ready for automation. In reality, there’s often a lot that can be done even for the less technologically advanced organisations.
The best way around this barrier is to find an honest contractor who can guide you through realistic automation opportunities and build a custom solution that is compatible with your current tech stack. Some out-of-the-box solutions may require a higher level of IT readiness, but bespoke solutions can be tailored to your existing processes.
3. Lack of skills
A data science team needs to earn its place in an organisation and truthfully, not many businesses need a fully-fledged data science department. However, that doesn’t mean that data science should go out the window. In fact, in many organisations, automating just one or two tasks could make a huge difference in efficiency and profitability!
Starting your automation journey doesn’t have to be a year-long restructuring and recruitment push. A good outsourced contractor will ensure that not only are you getting an automation solution that yields results, but also guides you through the adoption process so that you’re confident in using it.
4. Resistance to change
Some barriers aren’t as black and white as time, money, or capability. As emotional creatures, we’re all familiar with feelings of doubt and resistance, and the impact that they can have on our decision-making. In fact, senior-level buy-in is so important, that companies that have a knowledgeable champion in their C-suite tend to see higher financial benefits from AI initiatives.
Although automation holds amazing cost-saving and profit-boosting potential for businesses, it naturally causes some to wonder what will happen to their jobs. But while automation may replace tasks, it doesn’t have to replace jobs. With various studies showing that employees are hungry for more digital skills, removing repetitive tasks allows people to upskill and contribute more to the core of the business. In fact, a recent study found that 9 in 10 employees believe that automating tasks brings advantages, showing that convincing staff may be easier than you thought.