Amazon price! Google Speed! Five things to help you compete.

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Over the last 20 years, manufacturers had to learn to compete at the “Walmart price”. Service providers were largely unaffected. After all, you couldn’t manufacture a cab ride or a hotel room in China. How things have changed. No matter what you do, technology and automation are creeping into every area of your business and there are dozens of startups with the brains and funding to compete.

Every business must now learn to compete at the “Amazon price” but also at “Google speed”. In this environment, manual processes simply don’t stand a chance. You must automate or die.

Automation isn’t coming; it’s here and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime

From travel bookings and maps to online banking to highway tolls, we are already using automation in our daily lives. For your business, automating routine, day-to-day operations will make a fundamental difference. We’re talking about 50% efficiency improvements and literally changing what employees do. It’s heady and scary stuff.

Five things to keep in mind

Where to start? I.T. is overloaded, mobility requirements are soaring, there’s a serious skills gap, security is a concern, and data integration and scalability are challenging. It’s enough to make ones head spin. Nevertheless, you must get started TODAY!

1. Start small but Start NOW

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction. – Bill Gates.
The best advice I can give you is to get a quick win. Don’t try to automate everything or get bogged down in I.T. committees.  Find one everyday workflow – ideally it’s repetitive, with simple routing and reasonably frequent – and gain that first success.

2. Set goals and don’t be shy.

“If you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which path you take.” – Alice in Wonderland
The potential ROI of automating routine workflows is astounding. Shoot for at least 25% cost savings AND similar productivity gains. Don’t be surprised if you end up seeing even more.

3. Focus on the User Experience. Especially, on Mobile.

“How come my $5 smartphone app is easier to use than your $5,000,000 system?” – Every Millennial
Usability should be your #1 concern. For many people, especially millennials, their smartphone is the hub of their lives. You cannot drop them into jarring, old-style experiences and expect adoption. Your shiny new application needs to look fantastic and work fast. Modern, workflow automation platforms make it easy.

4. Involve your people from A-Z

“We humans have a love-hate relationship with our technology. We love each new advance and we hate how fast our world is changing.” – Daniel H. Wilson
Get your people involved early. They’ll be more invested in the solution if they’ve had a chance to impact it. They might also be concerned: is this automation going to eat my job? For the vast majority, the answer is no. It’ll help them do their job better and make them more valuable. For example, should teachers be spending time recording absences, getting travel or leave approved, filing reimbursements? Or teaching?

5. Analyze everything

“Data is the new oil.” – CEOs everywhere.
Your proprietary data is your most valuable asset. If your daily workflows are manual, you don’t even have access to your most valuable asset. With automation, you can collect data, analyze and refine it into useful, actionable information so you can do things like over-deliver on customer service, and rollout new business initiatives in response to changing business conditions.

Still need convincing?

Neither AirBnB nor Uber existed 10 short years ago. The world is changing and changing unbelievably fast. Will your company’s products and services in 2020 only be marginally better than they are today running on manual processes with workarounds and redundant work? Or will they be smart, personalized, automated and offered at price points unimaginable today?

Get started now and you too can reap massive benefits from automation. Download this white paper to learn more.

A version of this article also appeared in Forbes.
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

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