How Automation Intelligence Can Improve Your Business in Good and Bad Times

It's important to prove to your team that automation doesn't mean layoffs.
How Automation Intelligence Can Improve Your Business in Good and Bad Times
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Guest Writer
Entrepreneur-in-Residence at 500 Startups
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

During the recession of 2007 to 2009, Airbnb, Slack, Dropbox and Stripe all began their journey. So did another 45,000 tech companies. So, despite the economic destruction we've seen, there is hope many companies will find their way. Most will probably downsize, cut their burn and extend their runway. At the same time, they will also enhance their business practices, optimize and automate.

That doesn’t mean layoffs. Automation means upgrading their employees. A famous CEO quote often goes, “I want to grow myself out of a job.” It means that as their company scales and hires smarter people and implements better systems, the CEO can focus more on more on strategy and supporting her team. It gets them out of the weeds, and that’s what automation will do for employees. 

Related: The Top 5 Perks of Marketing Automation

Smart business leaders will find tactics and tools to increase their employees’ effectiveness. They will figure out how to grow their business with technology. That’s automation intelligence, the practice of wisely implementing new automation technologies to rapidly scale your company.

We will see automation intelligence shine in a few different layers of a business:

  1. DevOps automation: Sitting between information technology and software development, DevOps has reared its head over the last decade and become an important layer of speed when automating processes around software building and deployment.
  2. Logistics automation: Similar to the lean manufacturing methods made popular by Toyota, logistics takes this a step further into the delivery of products and services to customers.
  3. Workplace automation: Every nontechnical business unit within a company can and should use efficient practices. From HR employee analytics to customer support to office design, automation should be considered.

One company to follow within the DevOps automation space is CTO.ai, who’s brought command-line workflows into Slack for rapid, reliable collaboration. Slack, with over 13 million daily active users, has quickly become the golden child of team collaboration. Put these two together, and you get the ability to build and run “ops” that could double the efficiency of each developer on your team.

In the logistics space, you’ve heard their names often — Lyft and Uber — and their race to autonomous cars. That same layer of autonomous transportation has spread to everything from drone-shipped medical supplies to autonomous trucking to robot-delivered mail. Automating the way important products get from A to B is quickly becoming a norm in society and would survive any pandemic.

Workplace automation has been around for a while, but as software gets eaten by the cloud, business technology is getting better, faster and easier to use. Whether you work in human resources and use general artificial intelligence to decipher areas for team improvement with Culture Amp, or you automate your corporate governance with a platform like CapBase, look for the automation answers in whatever business function you are in.

Related: How Businesses Can Process Payments Without Stress

Implementation of automation can often be faced with resistance, so there are a few key ways to build a culture of automation in order to continue down a more productive path:

  1. Focus on easy wins. Automate the simplest processes first. The places where you really don’t need humans in the first place. Then move on to larger challenges. This allows you to showcase early successes to prove automation isn’t always hard and expensive.
  2. Transparency is vital. Have your automation champion or leader in the company clearly prove to the entire team that you have top-down and bottom-up buy-in. Have consistent check-ins on your projects and show how you aren’t automating people out of jobs, but in fact, creating new oversight jobs as you automate. It’s also keeping you more competitive with the market, so it’s more likely you’ll be able to grow and flourish than old, slow-moving competitors.
  3. Eliminate areas of processes. Once you get moving in upgrading your company, look beyond one simple process and toward entire business functions that can show not only the simplification of automation but the value as well. Showing a return on investment will be important to get continued buy-in from all leaders involved as well as staff.

Automation comes in many forms and can be implemented in many ways, but now is the right time to make serious investments in all areas of your business. You’ll make your employees stronger, faster and smarter. The business will be more competitive. Thus, you’ll see a culture of automation thinking can actually increase morale and show your resiliency. Your business and team will reap the benefits and you’ll be better equipped to weather a market storm, pandemic, recession or otherwise.

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