The Importance of Automation during and after the COVID-19 crisis
Covid-19 has caused major disruption to almost all business activity across the globe. Organisations have had to respond quickly to a scenario that many did not foresee. Immediate priorities are on cash flow to ensure survival, possibly with employees being furloughed or moved to a remote working model. Offerings have been adjusted to online, or tailored so that face-to-face business can continue while social distancing guidelines are adhered to and staff are kept safe.
What are the trends in the software market place as a result of this?
1. A focus on supply chain management to ensure minimal disruption to input components and access to the buyer market. The supply chain needs to be flexible and robust to further disruption.
2. While there is a lull in marketplace activity, there is an opportunity for cash rich organisations to focus on back office operations. This is very much a long term investment initiative that makes good use of a workforce that has spare capacity.
3. An emphasis on automation so that customers (external and internal) can navigate processes with minimal or no agent intervention. The workforce can concentrate on the complex edge cases while adjusting, in many cases, to a remote working model.
We focus now on #3 from the above list. Let’s consider some scenarios here:
A camera enthusiast has a battery issue and wants advice on which part to order. She’s unable to get through to the call centre (there are fewer agents to service the increased number of calls) and a recorded message encourages her to review the online knowledge base which she does. The search facility is indexed and she quickly gets to an article that allows her to see that the part is appropriate for her camera. In addition there are comments from other enthusiasts so her confidence is now very high that the part is correct. She clicks through to the eCommerce part of the site and places the order. Key points: no agent interaction required; perhaps next time, rather than making a phone call, she’ll go straight to the knowledge base.
Of course a shift, like the one above into self-service territory, has not come about entirely as a result of Covid-19, instead its importance has increased because of it. ‘Some consumers will be trying digital and remote experiences for the first time. In China, the share of consumers over the age of 45 using e-commerce increased by 27 percent from January to February 2020, according to Chinese market-research firm QuestMobile’ (McKinsey (2020), Adapting Customer Experience in the Time of Coronavirus). The questions to ask of the modern organisation include how digital-ready is the operation, how joined up are the systems to process transactions quickly, and what do you offer that your competitors don’t.
An employee needs to apply for unpaid leave because of parental responsibilities while the schools are closed. He emails the HR department and gets an auto response advising that the HR portal is accessed instead because the email is unlikely to be responded to for at least a week (due to increased enquiries and a reduced number of HR agents). He then accesses the portal and is able to read about the policy and the application process. He clicks through to an online form. His details are auto-populated on it, he then completes the rest of the form and submits it. His line manager gets a notification and approves the request. The HR system is updated. Key points: no agent interaction; next time he might start off on the HR portal rather than sending an email.
“It is also the right time for the HR Heads to recalibrate their priorities, focus towards managing remote workforce, digitalize the HR function, and re-imagine workforce models,” said Anurag Malik, Partner and India Workforce Advisory Leader, People Advisory Services, EY India (cited in The Economic Times (2020), Covid 19 impact will be felt beyond 6 months, shows EY survey). The topic here is far reaching, from employees self-serving, applying for benefits, checking their HR records all the way through to how engaged they are with the organisation, something that is becoming increasingly important.
The scenarios above are examples of where Covid-19 has increased their importance. There are other scenarios that are Covid-19 specific. For example:
– How to implement a system rapidly so that breaches of Covid-19 restrictions can be reported.
– Online symptom checking that can be accessed via an app where the download might be done by a large proportion of the population.
– How to vet and register retired medical professionals before they return to hospitals and GP surgeries.
Regardless of the origin, the emphasis is on rapidly standing up a robust and highly available solution where maintenance is agile and uncomplicated.
Automation is increasingly important while we navigate Covid-19. Organisations are likely to be dealing with more phone and email traffic, a drop in revenue, and a reduced and now dispersed workforce. Automation can be used to steady the operation and refocus it for future trading.
Magia Consulting is committed to helping organisations on their journey to automation and would like to offer advice where your challenges are the same or similar to those described above.
About Magia Consulting
Magia Consulting is a technology solutions provider and consultancy that specialises in Business Rules Management Systems (BRMS) to empower organisations to convert complex business requirements and policies into simple to use, expert digital solutions.
McKinsey (2020), Adapting Customer Experience in the Time of Coronovirus, viewed 30 April 2020, <https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/adapting-customer-experience-in-the-time-of-coronavirus>
The Economic Times (2020), Covid 19 impact will be felt beyond 6 months, shows EY survey, viewed 30 April 2020, <https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/company/corporate-trends/covid-19-impact-will-be-felt-beyond-6-months-shows-ey-survey/articleshow/75084037.cms?from=mdr>