(Do you know which film the picture above is from, tell us in the comments!)

A large share of modern technology involves automation to some degree. Automation has the ability to make things quicker and easier – which saves time. In the commercial world, the use of automated technology, be it in manufacturing, computing or finance, can translate into saved costs, and in some cases, a positive impact on the bottom line.

Does automated mean better?

As technological advances continue at a fast pace, enterprises realise that automating processes for products or services are attractive to the consumer, as they are often seen as quicker, easier or more efficient. For this reason, there might be an argument that we are automating processes as a matter of course, and that they are not necessarily better in all aspects – they are just marketed as such. Let’s take a look at some modern-day examples of automation, and examine the thinking behind them:

Stirring devices!

Pop on a shopping channel at any time of the day or night, and you might well see one of these electronic stirring devices for stews, soups and like being advertised. They allow the cook to concern themselves with other tasks around the kitchen while the contents of their pot is being automatically stirred thanks to the device. The manual stirring process is not particularly complex, but the invention is intended to save time and free up the cook to devote his or her attention elsewhere.

Are they necessary? Probably not – and many aspiring chefs might like to take control over their own stirring, so they can choose when and how to do it.

Automated ‘selfie’ remotes

In the age of the smartphone, many of us love to photograph ourselves in all manner of interesting locations, while out with friends, or with a celebrity who we spot. But the action of taking a selfie can sometimes be a little awkward, especially when trying to smile, pout or strike a pose at the same time. Selfie remotes are designed to uncomplicate this process, using a separate remote control to help take and time a photo more effectively.

Are they necessary? To ensure great results, they certainly help, but many smartphone owners might prefer the authentic ‘amateur’ style of a manual selfie.

Restaurant service

An eatery in Japan has come up with the idea of a waiterless restaurant, which uses a conveyor belt to deliver the specific orders of clients at high speed. It is designed to encourage a peaceful ambience and even provides shoots for diners to dispose of their dirty crockery when finished. The ordering system involves a touchscreen tablet, and as soon as you have finished, your calculated bill is ready to pay.

Are they necessary? The process of ordering food from a waiter cannot be described as complex, and many diners will prefer the personal service provided by waiting staff. However, for a quick work-day lunch which avoids long queues, you might say that automation is the winner on this occasion.

Swivel chair integration

Every time we start a new project we hear the same from 90% of our clients; “we need to automate everything and save money”.  Well yes we can do that we can streamline your business, we can reduce ‘swivel chair integration*’, we can find efficiency across your business, can use Salesforce to help your business focus, but technology is not going to be the key until you have unlocked your processes.

Process re-engineering is the first step to making significant change to your business.  To get through the ‘this is how it’s always been done’ mentality.  We cannot automate until we understand why a particular process is being followed and what the outcomes are.

Implementing Salesforce?

So as you engage a partner to work with you to implement Salesforce consider the following steps to save time, money and most of all protect your outcomes and don’t automate for the sake of automating!

  • What are your ‘as is’ processes, can you draw them? Do you understand them? Why are they being followed?
  • Where are the area of significant ‘swivel chair integration’*?
  • Where are paper processes being used?
  • Where are you entering the same information multiple times in multiple areas?
  • Where are your employee’s key frustrations?
  • Where are your customer’s key frustrations?
  • Do you know what the outcomes are for your project?

This is your first step, the second will be to look at how technology can help, where we can reduce complexity, simplify process and automate for the right reasons not just because we can. Take a look at how some of our customers such as Keenpac are using automation in the right way to improve their daily processes to see how you can achieve the same.

*swivel chair integration is the process of taking data from one system and then manually ‘cutting and pasting’ the data in to another system as there is no way to technically integrate the two systems.