Millennials and Automation: A Departmental Examination
Larry Alton | Forbes
Automation is the way of the future; not just in the American workplace, but globally. Currently, about 60% of businesses could have one-third or more of their business processes fully automated by modern technologies. As those technologies continue to improve, these numbers will only grow.
Millennials, in particular, have been responsible for increased adoption rates of automation software. The general stereotype is that millennials love and crave technology since they’ve grown up with it. While anecdotally, you may find that to be true, the reality is there are specific qualities of technology that millennials look for, especially in a professional environment:
- Efficiency. A technology needs to be efficient, and/or make things more efficient, which by extension, means that it must be easy to use and must save time or money.
- Modernity. Millennials want technology that’s up-to-date, and on par with the latest standards.
- Collaboration. Millennials also want a technology that everyone can access mutually, to allow for greater collaboration.
Automation software fits all three criteria, so more millennials are pushing for it in their respective departments. But how is automation changing those departments, and are some departments more receptive to automation than others?
Accounting and invoicing rely on precise, methodical processes and repetitive data input. Automating these processes eliminates the risk of human error and frees up human resources. Software systems like EBizCharge Connect from Century Business Solutions, for example, automate the payment collections process through an online bill pay feature. The software connects with many ERP and accounting systems such as Netsuite, QuickBooks, Sage, SAP, Acumatica and Microsoft Dynamics to allow customers to pay securely and conveniently, while automatically applying payments to invoices. This automation drops the bottom line by streamlining payment procedures and maximizing employee time.
Automation brings significant upsides to a business with very few drawbacks. Manual accounting practices create an environment where human error and inexperience can cost a company money, whereas most automated systems are driven by clear functions and algorithms.
Automation in the customer service department has evolved significantly in just the past few years. Platforms like TeamSupport allow for the automated submission, organization, and distribution of tickets to individual team members, and may be able to automate responses to certain types of queries altogether. Most platforms still demand human oversight and coordination, but software makes those individuals’ jobs much easier, and much less prone to errors, delays in delegation, or memory lapses.
Of course, the big downside with too much automation in the customer service department is the loss of that uniquely human touch that only a personal interaction can bring. Submitting a ticket via an automatically generated form feels cold and unhelpful compared to a live conversation (for most people).
While the crux of sales still relies on human interaction, many processes around sales can be automated—and are automated for many companies. Software leaders like Velocify have created entire suites of products dedicated to automating various sales functions, including lead generation management, lead prioritization, automated calls, and of course, analysis of previous sales efforts.
For the foreseeable future, sales will still require a human touch, but the efficiency of automation here is especially powerful; the more time your salespeople can spend on actual sales (and not background tasks or busywork), the more closes you’ll get.
Automation in marketing has received its share of criticism, but it’s also helped countless companies improve their marketing ROI. There are many different types of marketing automation, including platforms like Hubspot, which offer tools to help marketers collaborate, schedule, post, and distribute content online, and platforms that attempt to remove the human element altogether.
The danger in over-automating marketing is the fact that your messages can become stale, cold, and robotic. Your brand will seem less personal, and as a result, you’ll do more harm to your brand’s image than good. However, as long as you’re still guided by a strong, human voice, automation tools can take a lot of pressure off your team.
Few departments stand to gain as much from new automation software as inventory management. With software like Netsuite, companies can customize a platform that allows them to automatically scan in products, keeping track of them at every stage of operation. It can even tie into your vendors’ and distributors’ platforms, so you always know where your products are and where they’re going.
Automation here reduces human error significantly, and as long as the technology is used correctly, it can only drive increases in your company’s efficiency.
Automation isn’t going away, but some departments will see faster and smoother adoption rates than others. It’s impossible to tell the long-term repercussions of automation in these industries, especially since automation software keeps rolling out. But for now, it’s an efficient alternative that can help you keep pace with your biggest competitors.
Millennials will undoubtedly continue to push for more automation, and for good reason: it has the power to improve almost every business function as it changes the landscape of the American workplace.
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