11 items tagged "automation"

  • Automating your organization in a couple of months through 4 steps

    Automating your organization in a couple of months through 4 steps

    Make automation a reality in the next 60 to 90 days

    Over the past three years, companies that scaled intelligent automation across their enterprises outperformed their peers in profitability, revenue growth and efficiency. And that performance gap is expected to widen over the next three years.

    This probably doesn’t surprise you. After all, you’re reading this blog. It’s also not news to you that automation is difficult, especially in an enterprise.

    Learning about automation approaches is definitely important, and so is starting in the right place.

    To help make sure that you’re set up for success, we’ve put together four steps you can take in the next 60 to 90 days to make automation a reality in your business.

    Step 1: Determine your goal

    At the end of the day, what are you hoping to achieve with automation? Do you want to provide better customer support? Are you trying to improve business processes so that your workers can focus on higher-quality tasks? Do you want to enable your employees to complete their work in less time so that they can spend more time with their families?

    The more specific you can be, the better. For example, CDG Prévoyance didn’t just want to improve their customer experience; they wanted to “provide the best service to our customers in a shorter amount of time and in the most effective channel.” For ENN Group, it was to drive clean energy options that improve the quality of people’s lives.

    Working with a specific goal in mind will help you keep your team’s efforts focused. It will also set you up for long-term success.

    Step 2: Choose one area of your business

    Often, our first instinct is to choose a project that will help everyone. However, when you’re introducing automation into your business, it’s best to start small.

    Automation could probably improve every part of your business in some way, so you’ll have a lot of options in front of you. Maybe you’ll find that there’s a department that is completely overwhelmed with time-consuming, manual processes. Maybe there’s a team that needs to make big changes due to recent data privacy regulations. Or maybe there’s an area that has faced recent budget cuts and now has fewer people to help get work done.

    Most importantly, you’ll want to look for an area where the people on the team are excited about taking on this new project. You’ll need them to be your partners throughout the process.

    For example, the Administrative Office of the Courts in a southeastern state had an overburdened payment claims team. When they started their discovery process, they saw that more than 70,000 claims were on hold, mostly due to simple errors that had to be corrected through manual processes. For Turkcell, it was that their marketing team had limited time to review 7.9 million contracts and confirm that the contract data matched the information in their CRM system.

    In both of these companies, they knew the teams needed help and the team members were eager to start automating repetitive tasks.

    Step 3: Set yourself up for a quick win

    The unfortunate truth is that some people won’t be on board with your automation project until you show that it’s successful. So, plan with that reality in mind.

    You will have already set yourself up for success by choosing a single project with an engaged team. It’s also great to consider what you can easily measure – those numbers are going to be important as you prove the value of automation. You may also want to consider low-code technologies that are quick and easy to implement.

    For ENN Group, this meant implementing an automated financial assistant that could perform routine tasks like pulling reports or tracking monthly ledgers.

    Step 4: Monitor the progress

    Automation is an iterative process, and teams tend to see results very quickly. Be sure to track metrics from the start so you can see what’s going well and what you’d like to improve.

    For example, ENN Group’s virtual assistant was an immediate hit, it completed between 2,000 and 3,000 tasks every day, which reduced processing time by 60%. At the Administrative Office of the Courts, they reduced their payment processing times from 45-60 days to less than 10 days.

    As these results come in, you’ll start to have additional opportunities, either to expand the solutions you’ve implemented or to scope out additional ways that automation could help teams. And these could be found in surprising places. At the Administrative Office of the Courts, having an automated payment system facilitated the first raise for the state’s public defenders in a decade.

    Automation tips

    Here are a few additional tips that can help make automation a reality for your company:

    • Develop an internal methodology for automation projects
    • Learn how to avoid false starts
    • Remember that not everything should be automated

    Author: Naomi Sherry

    Source: IBM

  • Chinese hospitals turn to AI assistance for treatment corona virus

    Chinese hospitals turn to AI assistance for treatment corona virus

    The deadly coronavirus outbreak, which has pushed the Chinese health industry into overdrive, has also prompted the country’s hospitals to more quickly adopt robots as medical assistants.

    Telepresence bots that allow remote video communication, patient health monitoring and safe delivery of medical goods are growing in number on hospital floors in urban China. They’re now acting as a safe go-between that helps curb the spread of the coronavirus.

    Keenon Robotics Co., a Shanghai-based company, deployed 16 robots of a model nicknamed 'little peanut' to a hospital in Hangzhou after a group of Wuhan travelers to Singapore were held in quarantine. Siasun Robot and Automation Co. donated seven medical robots and 14 catering service robots to the Shenyang Red Cross to help hospitals combat the virus on Wednesday, according to a media release on the company’s website.

    Keenon and Siasun didn’t reply immediately to requests for comment. JD.com Inc. is testing the use of autonomous delivery robots in Wuhan, the company said in a statement. Local media has also reported robots being used in hospitals in the city as well as in Guangzhou, Jiangxi, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin.

    The rapid spread of the coronavirus has left provincial hospitals straining to cope and helped accelerate the embrace of artificial intelligence as one solution, turning the gadgets into medical assistants. These bots join China’s tech-heavy response to the coronavirus outbreak, which also includes airborne drones and work-from-home apps. The jury remains out on how effective these coping tactics will be.

    China’s rapid buildout of fifth-generation wireless networking in areas around urban hospitals has also seen a rise in 5G-powered medical robots, equipped with cameras that allow remote video communication and patient monitoring. These are in contrast to robots like little peanut, whose primary function is to make indoor deliveries.

    'The technology of robots used in Chinese hospitals isn’t high, but what this virus is also highlighting, and it could be the next stage of Chinese robots, is the use of medical robot deployment', said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Nikkie Lu.

    China Mobile Ltd. donated one 5G robot each to both Wuhan Union Hospital and Tongji Tianyou Hospital this week, according to a report by ThePaper.cn. Riding the 5G network, these assistant bots carry a disinfectant tank on board and will be used to safely clean hospital areas along a predetermined route, reducing the risk to medical personnel.

    Zhejiang People’s Hospital used a 5G robot to diagnose its first coronavirus patient on Sunday, according to a report by the Hangzhou news center run by the State Council Information Office. Beijing Jishuitan Hospital performed remote surgery on a patient in Shandong province via China Telecom Corp.’s 5G network last June.

    While it may take patients a moment or two to get over the shock of being helped by a robot rather than a medical professional, bots have already permeated a growing number of sectors in Chinese society including nursing homes, restaurants, warehouses, banks and over 200 kindergartens.

    Financial services company Huachuang Securities Co. believes even more robots are in China’s immediate future. Pointing to National Bureau of Statistics data suggesting that domestic production of industrial robots increased by 15.3% in the month of December, they predict similarly fast growth in the current quarter, according to a report published by Finance Sina.

    The increased quantity of robots deployed to combat the coronavirus has helped accelerate China’s path to the goal it had already set for itself. The country wants to become one of the world’s top 10 most intensively automated nations by the end of this year.

    Source: Information-management

  • How automated data analytics can improve performance

    How automated data analytics can improve performance

    Data, data, data. Something very valuable to brands. They need it in order to make informed decisions and in the long term, make their brand grow. That part is probably common knowledge, right? What you are probably wondering is how big brands are choosing and using the right data analytics that will bring results. Find out the answer to that question here.

    Data analytics to learn more about brand performance

    More and more companies are investing in brand. The problem is that they don’t know if their investment is bringing results or not. Of course they can work off their gut feeling or some numbers here and there from Google Analytics or the like, but what does that really tell them about the impact of their brand campaigns? Not much. That’s why big brands are using MRP-based data analytics coming from brand tracking. They are using the precise and reliable data that advanced data science can bring them in order to make sure the decisions they make are indeed based on fact.

    Data analytics for risk management

    Following on from the last point of big brands needing precise data to make informed decisions, they also need such data for risk management. Being able to grow as a brand is not just about knowing who their customers are, their intention to buy their product, etc., it is also about being able to foresee any potential risks and knocking them out of the park before they can cause any damage. Take for instance UOB bank in Singapore, who have devised a risk management system based on big data.

    Data analytics to predict consumer behavior

    As much as big brands need to look into the future, they also need to look to the past. Historical data can do wonders for future growth. Data analytics can be used to pinpoint patterns in consumer behavior. Using the data, they can potentially predict when a certain market may take a nosedive, as well as markets on an upward trend that are worth investing money into right now.

    Data analytics for better marketing

    A combination of data analytics looking at the past, present, and future of a big brand can make for better marketing, and in turn, more profit. By using data analytics to identify consumer needs and purchasing patterns, big brands can target with more personalized marketing, refine the overall consumer experience, and develop better products. Pay attention in your everyday life and you can already see examples of such data being used to market a product at you. A product you Googled once now appearing in your Facebook feed? Retargeting. Emails sounding like they are speaking directly to your needs? That’s because they are, since there are more than a few email marketing approaches. Data analytics was used to figure out exactly what you need.

    There is one important trend occurring across the different ways that big brands are using data analytics to bring results. They all aim to understand consumers, in particular, the brands’ target audience. Whether that be what consumers think of their brand now, how they reacted toward them in the past, and how brands think consumers will act in the future because of detected patterns.

    So, how are big brands using data analytics that will bring results? They are using them in a way that will help them better understand the consumer. 

    Author: Steve Habazin

    Source: Insidebigdata

  • How businesses can support citizen developers towards success

    How businesses can support citizen developers towards success

    It is estimated that by 2030, there could be a shortage of 10 million developers in the U.S., according to Forrester Research. This shortcoming, coupled with the proliferation of automation tools, is sprouting an army of citizen developers: professionals who aren't trained in computer science but are becoming de facto programmers through the influx software available to them.

    While some employees eagerly jump at the opportunity to become citizen developers, others have held back from embracing this title, notes Justin Donato, vice president of information technology at Nintex.

    Heading into 2020, which is primed to be the automation decade, enterprises need to work to qualm employee anxieties (job security, ageism, bandwidth, etc.) associated with becoming a citizen developer, Donato says. Information Management spoke with Donato about the growing need for citizen developers and how organizations can build a culture that fosters citizen developers.

    Information Management: How can enterprises build a culture that encourages citizen developers?

    Justin Donato: The most important things enterprises can do to encourage citizen developers are to give them the right tools and empower them to use those tools within a data culture. One of the major success criteria for a citizen developer is a no-code solution. Unfortunately, in many organizations, IT departments keep these solutions from the business or citizen developer types.


    IM: What will citizen developers look like in the next year? Can anyone be a citizen developer?

    Donato: Citizen developers are on the rise. Anyone in the organization who really understands a process and how it works is a great candidate to build and manage their own solutions. Typically they start with a system of record like SharePoint, Salesforce or other repository of data and quickly start automating processes around those systems.


    IM: How can employers ease employee anxieties often connected to the rise of automation?

    Donato: In a wide variety of scenarios, automation is making processes much more efficient and accurate. Employers are seeing that the employees involved in these processes are reducing inefficiency and adding more value.

    Smart managers are recognizing and rewarding employees for automating processes that help the business run better. Those employees are being great stewards of the company time and resources that they have been entrusted with.


    IM: What are the key steps in implementing a successful automation strategy?

    Donato: Executive support is often the key to driving success. I personally have found it very helpful to have a tool that allows me to start by documenting the process I want to automate.

    Keep that documentation up to date and leverage it as the foundation for the next step, the actual automation. This provides a great working copy of processes that you are automating.

    On the automation side, giving citizen developers no-code solutions that are fast and easy to use is the key to long-term sustainability.

    Author: David Weldon

    Source: Information Management

  • How do automation and robotics differ?

    How do automation and robotics differ?

    We live in a tech-driven world, but with all the technologies and innovative solutions at our disposal, it can be difficult to figure out what tech solutions are right for your business. Oftentimes, business leaders who are looking into tech innovation and new solutions for their companies are overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities.

    That said, there always seems to be some confusion as to the difference between automation and robotics, their unique and combined uses, and more. Could both help your company thrive and improve your production and operational processes? Absolutely, but you need to differentiate between the two first.

    Here are the key differences between automation and robotics and how to use them to your advantage.

    What is automation?

    Automation is the use of automatic hardware or software to automate specific tasks or a number of processes in a business. You can implement automation in a variety of ways, such as a custom solution for your company, as a part of a robotics solution in your facility, or as a SaaS solution.

    The applications for automation are virtually endless nowadays, as there is a piece of automation equipment or a piece of software for almost any use and any department in an organization. For example, according to the latest Ecommerce trends, automation has become a big part in operations management, but also marketing, customer service, and more.

    But Ecommerce is just one of many industries where automation has countless uses, with the goals of automating repetitive tasks, minimizing financial and time waste, and maximizing performance. As a software solution, you can use automation for:

    • Repetitive and menial tasks
    • Warehouse management
    • Order processing from numerous sales channels
    • Team monitoring, workflow, and communication
    • Scheduling and posting on social media
    • Buying advertising space across the web
    • And much more

    What is robotics?

    On the other hand, robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and computer science, involving the design, construction, operation and use of robotics. As the name implies, a robotic solution is a piece of sophisticated equipment or machinery used to assist humans and businesses overall in their daily operations.

    The key difference between automation and robotics is that the former is used to automate specific tasks while robots are machines that can be programmed to complete a variety of different tasks. With robotic process automation, which we’ll talk about in a minute, you can combine the two for maximum effect.

    Robotic solutions are primarily used for industrial purposes, but numerous other industries are increasingly leveraging this technology to boost operational efficiency.

    Ecommerce is increasingly using robotics to improve order processing, warehouse management and goods retrieval, as well as storing, packaging, and shipping. In manufacturing, engineering, and construction, robotic solutions help improve worksite safety, accuracy, and time to completion.

    Understanding robotics process automation

    Robotics process automation is the process of designing, building, and implementing software robots that mimic human actions and is often referred to as software robotics. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics process automation is seeing widespread implementation across the world.

    According to the 2022 RPA trends and predictions, revenue from robotic process automation is poised to hit $13.74 billion by 2028, indicating that businesses, investors, and governments are increasingly investing in RPA innovation. This should come as no surprise, as software robotics enables companies to automate key processes, enable remote work, and minimize financial waste across the board.

    Software robotics is a big part of  digital transformation and the implementation of smart solutions across the business sector. One of the most obvious use cases is the implementation of chatbot technology and conversational AI in general.

    But RPA extends far beyond help desk support and chatbots, and reaches into complex applications in everything from manufacturing to finance, administration, risk mitigation, and more.

    Using automation as a software solution

    As mentioned before, automation comes in many forms, and oftentimes you will need to implement it as a SaaS solution or use automation features as a part of a dedicated tool. Automation can be found all around the web, driving marketing and sales processes, employee management and performance tracking, all the way to onboarding and more.

    From an online video editor used to fuel your video marketing efforts, all the way to automated workflow and team management tools, you can use software automation to cut financial waste and improve efficiency. You can also build a standalone solution specifically for your business, leveraging AI and machine learning to design a powerful proprietary automation tool to fix a unique pain-point in your company.

    Whether it’s a part of a web-based tool or a SaaS product, or if it’s a custom solution, software tools are nowadays commonly used to automate many menial and even complex tasks. Needless to say, this will help empower employees and boost satisfaction in the workplace.

    Enhancing security with automation and robotics

    Combining software automation and robotics is one of the best ways to enhance business cyber-attacks, while robotics can be used to elevate the physical security of your business.

    Now that smart robots are increasingly substituting on-site security, business leaders can use robots to patrol and oversee the business premises with ease. Security robots can connect with other sensors and cameras to create a comprehensive security system.

    Combined, software and robotic security allow managers and business owners to better protect customer data, their employees, as well as all sensitive business data in general.

    Over to you

    Automation and robotics are two very different tech sectors that, combined or used separately, can enhance business operations and overall efficiency. Now that you know what they are and understand some of the ways these technologies can help you, go ahead and streamline your tech investment strategy for 2022 and beyond.

    Author: Nikola Sekulic

    Source: Datafloq

  • IBM expands in automation with the acquisition of MyInvenio

    IBM expands in automation with the acquisition of MyInvenio

    IBM could use MyInvenio's process mining platform to direct its customers to its automation and AI portfolio, a practice that other technology vendors are using.

    IBM will acquire process mining vendor MyInvenio in a bid to further build out the technology giant's automation portfolio.

    The acquisition, made public on April 15, builds on an existing partnership between IBM and MyInvenio. Since December of last year, IBM has integrated MyInvenio's process mining and task mining technology into IBM Cloud Pak for Automation, a platform for building and running automation applications.

    Expanding the automation portfolio

    IBM's acquisition of the myInvenio, which is based in Reggio Emilia, Italy, gives IBM the chance to integrate MyInvenio technology more deeply into its Cloud Pak for Automation platform, said Neil Ward-Dutton, vice president of IDC's intelligent business execution practice.

    "IBM wants to make the MyInvenio technology a seamless part of its automation platform, and wants to add process mining, analytics and optimization from MyInvenio as core parts of its business and IT automation proposition," he said.

    MyInvenio's platform automatically analyzes users' business data to identify tasks that could benefit from automation and surface bottlenecks and other inefficiencies that users could improve. Its technology can analyze user interaction data to determine where robotic process automation (RPA) bots and other automation could benefit its users.

    MyInvenio's technology could complement IBM's existing automation platform in a few ways, including by helping clients identify opportunities to automate with RPA or automate the generation of business rules, Ward-Dutton said.

    "Longer term, MyInvenio's technology could also be used to provide a kind of ongoing operational insight capabilities for business, IT and network management processes, highlighting potential problems and proactively suggesting fixes," he added.

    For IBM, an obvious choice is to integrate output from MyInvenio with IBM Blueworks Live, a cloud-based business process modeler, so that analysis could move directly into a modeling and documentation tool for process reengineering, said Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz.

    "This can be done today by importing a BPMN (business process model and notation) model, but it will likely become more tightly integrated and easier to use," he added.

    RPA and process mining

    IBM's acquisition of MyInvenio builds on IBM's acquisition of Brazilian RPA vendor WDG Automation in July. At the time, IBM said it planned to integrate more than 600 prebuilt RPA functions from WDG Automation into its Cloud Pak products, beginning with Cloud Pak for Automation.  

    IBM's move with MyInvenio "totally builds on IBM's automation strategy, including, but not exclusive to, RPA," Koplowitz said. "Once automation is determined to be the right approach to optimize a process, easy provisioning of technology streamlines the process and directs a customer to IBM's tech stack."

    Koplowitz added that he's concerned, though, that process mining is "increasingly becoming a feeder for a presumed automation solution."

    So, with process mining, an enterprise using the technology could surface where automation could be useful, which in turn would provide the vendor -- in this case, IBM -- with opportunities to sell more services to automate that process.

    "The automation market is much larger than the process mining market, so anything that can help a vendor feed that beast becomes compelling [to them]," he said.

    The industry saw that, to a certain extent, with UiPath's acquisition of ProcessGold, a process mining vendor based in the Netherlands, and with SAP's acquisition of Signavio earlier this year, Koplowitz noted. Now, with MyInvenio, IBM is making a similar move.

    Still, MyInvenio might be one of a few automation acquisitions IBM makes in the short term.

    Ward-Dutton noted that IBM aims to build out the broadest possible automation platform. He said it wouldn't surprise him if the tech giant made one or two more acquisitions to this platform in the coming year or so.

    IBM did not disclose the financial details of its MyInvenio deal.

    Author: Mark Labbe

    Source: TechTarget

  • Intelligence, automation, or intelligent automation?

    Intelligence, automation, or intelligent automation?

    There is a lot of excitement about artificial intelligence (AI), and also a lot of fear. Let’s set aside the potential for robots to take over the world for the moment and focus on more realistic fears. There is a growing acceptance that AI will change the way we work. There is also agreement that it is likely to result in a number of jobs disappearing or being replaced by AI systems, and others appearing.

    This has fueled the discussion on the ethics around intelligence, especially AI. Thoughtful commentators note that it is unwise to separate the two. Some have suggested frameworks for the ethical development of AI. Underpinning ethical discussion, however, is a question of what AI will be used for exactly. It is hard to develop an ethics framework out of the blue. In this blog, this issue will be unpicked a little, sharing thoughts about where and how AI is used and how this will affect the value that businesses obtain from AI.

    Defining intelligence

    Artfiicial Intelligence has been defined as the ability of a system to interpret data, learn from it, and then use what it has learnt to adapt and therefore achieve particular tasks. There are therefore three elements to AI:

    1. The system has to correctly interpret data and draw the right conclusions.

    2. It must be able to learn from its interpretation.

    3. It must then be able to use what it has learnt to achieve a task. Simply being able to learn or, indeed, to interpret data or perform a task is not enough to make a system AI-based.

    As consumers, most of our contact with AI is with systems like Alexa and Siri. These are definitely "intelligent," in that they take in what we say, interpret it, learn from experience and perform tasks correctly as a result. However, in business, there is general acceptance that much of the real value from AI will come from automation. In other words, AI will be used to mimic or replace human actions. This is now becoming known as 'intelligent automation'.

    Where does intelligent start and automation stop though? There are plenty of tasks that can be automated simply and easily, without any need for an intelligent system. A lot of the time the ability to automate tasks is overshadowing the need for intelligence to drive the automation. This typically results in very well-integrated systems, which often have decision-making capabilities. However, the quality of those decisions is often ignored.

    Good AI algorithms can suggest extremely good options for decisions. Ignoring this limits the value that companies can get out of their investments in AI. Equally, failing to consider whether the quality of the decision is good enough can lead to poor decisions being made. This undermines trust in the algorithm. This results in less use for decisions, again reducing the value. But how can you assess and ensure the quality of the decisions made or recommended by the algorithm?

    Balancing automation and intelligence

    An ideal AI deployment should have a balance between automation and intelligence. If you lean too much towards the automation side and rely on simple rules-based automation, all you will be able to do is collect all the low-hanging fruit in this case. You will therefore miss out on the potential to use the AI system to support more sophisticated decision making. Lean too much towards other direction though, and you get intelligence without automation or systems like Alexa and Siri. Useful for consumers, but not so much for businesses.

    In business, analytics needs to be at the heart of an AI system. The true measure of a successful AI deployment lies in being able to mimic both human action and human decision making.

    An AI deployment has a huge range of components, it would not be unreasonable to describe it as an ecosystem. This ecosystem might contain audio-visual interpretation functions, multisystem and/or multichannel integration, and human-computer interface components. However, none of those would mean anything without the analytical brain at the centre. Without that, the rest of the ecosystem is simply a lifeless body. It needs the analytics component to provide direction and interpretation of the world around it.

    Author: Yigit Karabag

    Source: SAS

  • Managing data at your organization? Take a holistic approach

    Managing data at your organization? Take a holistic approach

    Taking a holistic approach to data requires considering the entire data lifecycle – from gathering, integrating, and organizing data to analyzing and maintaining it. Companies must create a standard for their data that fits their business needs and processes. To determine what those are, start by asking your internal stakeholders questions such as, “Who needs access to the data?” and “What do each of these departments, teams, or leaders need to know? And why?” This helps establish what data is necessary, what can be purged from the system, and how the remaining data should be organized and presented.

    This holistic approach helps yield higher-quality data that’s more usable and more actionable. Here are three reasons to take a holistic approach at your organization:

    1. Remote workforce needs simpler systems

    We saw a massive shift to work-from-home in 2020, and that trend continues to pick up speed. Companies like Twitter, Shopify, Siemens, and the State Bank of India are telling employees they can continue working remotely indefinitely. And according to the World Economic Forum, the number of people working remotely worldwide is expected to double in 2021.

    This makes it vital that we simplify how people interact with their business systems, including CRMs. After all, we still need answers to everyday questions like, “Who’s handling the XYZ account now?” and “How did customer service solve ABC’s problem?” But instead of being able to ask the person in the next office or cubicle, we’re forced to rely on a CRM to keep us up to date and make sure we’re moving in the right direction.

    This means team members must input data in a timely manner, and others must be able to access that data easily and make sense of it, whether it’s to view the sales pipeline, analyze a marketing campaign’s performance, or spot changes in customer buying behavior.

    Unfortunately, the CRMs used by many companies make data entry and analytics challenging. At best, this is an efficiency issue. At worst, it means people aren’t inputting the data that’s needed, and any analysis of spotty data will be flawed. That’s why we suggest companies focus on improving their CRM’s user interface, if it isn’t already user-friendly.

    2. A greater need for data accuracy

    The increased reliance on CRM data also means companies need to ramp up their Data Quality efforts. People need access to clean, accurate information they can act on quickly.

    It’s a profound waste of time when the sales team needs to verify contact information for every lead before they reach out, or when data scientists have to spend hours each week cleaning up data before they analyze it.

    Yet, according to online learning company O’Reilly’s The State of Data Quality 2020 report, 40% or more of companies suffer from these and other major Data Quality issues:

    • Poor quality controls when data enters the system
    • Too many data sources and inconsistent data
    • Poorly labeled data
    • Disorganized data
    • Too few resources to address Data Quality issues

    These are serious systemic issues that must be addressed in order to deliver accurate data on an ongoing basis.

    3. A greater need for automation

    Data Quality Management is an ongoing process throughout the entire data lifecycle. We can’t just clean up data once and call it done.

    Unfortunately, many companies are being forced to work with smaller budgets and leaner teams these days, yet the same amount of data cleanup and maintenance work needs to get done. Automation can help with many of the repetitive tasks involved in data cleanup and maintenance. This includes:

    • Standardizing data
    • Removing duplicates
    • Preventing new duplicates
    • Managing imports
    • Importing/exporting data
    • Converting leads
    • Verifying data

    A solid business case

    By taking a holistic approach to Data Management – including simplifying business systems, improving data accuracy, and automating whenever possible – companies can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teams throughout their organization. These efforts will help organizations come through the pandemic stronger, with a “new normal” for data that’s far better than what came before.

    Author: Oilivia Hinkle

    Source: Dataversity

  • Taking advantage of automation technology in competitive intelligence

    Taking advantage of automation technology in competitive intelligence

    If you’re a market or product researcher, or an intelligence specialist, you’re probably already aware of the extent to which technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have altered the business landscape over the past decade. But many professionals still view AI with suspicion, even mistrust, after being over-sold on its capabilities and underinformed about its limitations.

    If you’re one of those people, it’s time to give AI another (cautious) chance.

    Hybrid solutions, sometimes called smart workflows, combine automation technology with human analysis in order to improve the efficiency and accuracy of a business process. Smart workflows automate repetitive, tedious, and time-consuming tasks, and freeing up time for humans to handle more the complex, strategic tasks that machines still struggle to execute. If you’re reluctant to trust a computer to conduct important research, smart workflows allow you to build in human checks and balances wherever you see fit.

    Here are three ways automation technology can save you time at different stages of your competitive intelligence process.

    Data collection 

    A competitive intelligence process is only as thorough as its data collection method. If you’re missing information during the initial intelligence gathering stage, none of your hard work afterwards can correct that deficit, you’ll always be left with an incomplete set of facts. That’s why automated intelligence gathering is growing in popularity, even among small-to-midsized businesses. By allowing a machine to do the first-line data collection, you remove the potential for human error in terms of overlooking relevant company names, keywords, or phrases. With ongoing maintenance, an automated data collection system can drastically reduce the number of manhours spent searching for information.

    Classification

    When you’re dealing with a high volume of information, an automated classification system can give structure to the raw intelligence data, breaking it down into more manageable chunks for researchers and analysts to work with. Even if the information is particularly complication, a human curator can clean up pre-sorted data much more quickly than a raw, unorganized feed. The combination of machine power and human intelligence saves time and reduces employee burnout.

    Distribution

    Managing your competitive intelligence distribution process can be a time-consuming job in its own right, especially if you’re doing it all manually. Instead, many businesses are switching to an automated report model that takes your pre-classified intelligence data and distributes it to the intelligence users who need to see it, and have the right data skills to use it. Users can generally control what type of news they receive and when they receive it, without burdening the intelligence team with dozens, or even hundreds of unique schedules and content requests.

    Source: CI Radar

  • Useful advice for entrepreneurs who consider starting a microbusiness

    Useful advice for entrepreneurs who consider starting a microbusiness

    Right now, with inflation and interest rates rising, many aspiring entrepreneurs are reconsidering plans to launch new businesses. It is, they believe, the wrong time to go all-in on a new venture. And for those with grand plans and ambitions, that may be true. But that doesn’t mean entrepreneurs have no choice but to sit on the sidelines until economic conditions improve.

    Instead of trying to start a resource-intensive new startup, they can instead work toward founding a microbusiness. Microbusinesses are, after all, the most common type of business in the US, accounting for 74.8% of all private-sector employment. And they’re quite easy to start. Here are four technology tips for entrepreneurs wishing to try their hands at starting a microbusiness.

    Embrace Automation Early On

    One of the biggest keys to running a successful microbusiness is to always look for ways to do more with less. And there’s no better way to accomplish that than by turning to automation. That’s why entrepreneurs should embrace automation early on in their business journey and look for ways to utilize it in every aspect of their operation. After all, time is money, and in a microbusiness – every dollar saved goes straight into the entrepreneur’s pocket.

    Some of the most effective types of automation for microbusinesses include:

    • Social media and marketing automation
    • Accounting automation
    • Scheduling automation
    • Form automation

    The idea is to put as many of the day-to-day tasks involved with running the microbusiness on autopilot – freeing up the entrepreneur to handle work that leads directly to revenue.

    Leverage Virtual Office Technology

    For most businesses, the two biggest cost drivers are labor and real estate. Microbusinesses don’t have high labor costs, and they can all but eliminate real estate costs by virtualizing their offices. In most cases, there’s no business justification for maintaining a physical office space. Instead, an entrepreneur behind a microbusiness can go fully remote and connect with other employees or freelancers via video, voice, or text chat when necessary.

    But to make a virtual office setup work, it’s important to come up with ways to maintain customer relationships without the physical component they often have in a traditional office environment. In other words, it’s necessary to replace face-to-face meetings with other, all-digital customer outreach efforts. Some of the best ways to do so include:

    • Holding invite-only live customer video events
    • Providing live online training and knowledge-sharing sessions
    • Organizing virtual networking events

    Be a Cloud-native Business

    Flexibility is one of the key assets of a microbusiness that allows them to compete in today’s economy. It means they can often be nimbler and customer-responsive than bigger competitors. That makes it easy for microbusinesses to innovate and bring new products and services to market as fast as possible. But flexibility doesn’t equal capability.

    To make the most of their flexibility, microbusinesses have to be able to develop new capabilities at a moment’s notice and discard parts of their operations that are no longer viable. But that gets increasingly harder to do if there are significant technology investments involved. The solution, though, is simple: don’t own your technology stack.

    Instead, microbusinesses should aim to be cloud-native. A cloud-native business eschews costly on-premises hardware and software solutions. In their place, they rely on contracted access to cloud-based solutions that they can add to or subtract from at a moment’s notice. For example, instead of maintaining a costly mail server to support communications, they’d perhaps start with a free business email address and then turn to a cloud email provider like Outlook.com or Gmail to scale up when the need arose.

    The reason this is so important is that it can help a microbusiness keep their costs and capabilities closely aligned with the work they’re doing at a given moment. It’s a way of eliminating unnecessary spending during lean times while preserving the ability to pivot when clients come calling with new requests.

    Consider Hardware as a Service

    Last but not least, any microbusiness would do well to try and contain its IT hardware costs by exploring hardware as a service (HaaS) options. They’re typically made available by managed service providers (MSPs) as an option for their customers. By leasing IT equipment rather than buying it, microbusinesses can cut major capital costs that they’d ordinarily face to get up and running.

    Instead, they pay predictable monthly fees to cover their technology needs and don’t have to worry about complex depreciation formulas and the like. Plus, the costs of most HaaS offerings are cheaper than the cost of purchases when you consider the short replacement cycle of business technologies these days. Plus, payments for leased hardware are almost always 100% tax-deductible, making them the perfect option for a lean-running microbusiness.

    The Right Business at the Right Moment

    Right now, as economic uncertainty mounts, microbusinesses are the perfect entrepreneurial option to meet the moment. And the technology tips detailed above should help any entrepreneur to launch a lean, nimble, and profitable microbusiness no matter how strong the economic headwinds become. By putting them to work early on, they’ll help to contain costs and improve capabilities at every turn – leading to a successful launch and a sustainable future.

    Author: Philip Piletic

    Source: Datafloq

  • Why you should implement automation in your business

    Why you should implement automation in your business

    When automation is done well, it accomplishes more than just saving time and money. It minimizes errors, improves productivity, increases employee satisfaction, and enhances the customer experience. When incorporated into a business strategy, employees get more done, in the same amount of time, allowing them to focus on the important objectives of their role.

    While automation may not be the latest advancement in technology, it will have the greatest impact on how we do business over the next decade. IT managers who fail to employ automation will likely lose their competitive advantage. Gartner estimates a 25-percent reduction in customer retention over the next year for companies that choose not to incorporateautomation into their business strategy.

    What is automation and why do it?

    Automation enables the workflow to proceed without human oversight. Automation can be deployed in place of traditional manual systems such as entering purchase orders, customer service, data analysis, and reporting. Eventually, nearly all IT teams will automate some aspects of their businesses. As businesses grow, automation will expand customer service without increasing the number of employees. Successful automation enables your existing teams to manage additional customers with the same speed of service. Simply put, automation allows the company to accomplish more with less.

    Automation benefits both the company and its customers. Customers report an improved experience due to better consistency in order fulfilment, faster response times, and lowered costs. Improved customer experience will improve brand loyalty and increase customer lifetime value. Automation empowers companies to optimize the way they allocate internal resources to save money, and take advantage of new opportunities to increase sales. In other words, businesses are either saving or earning money when they automate.

    Reporting

    Automated reporting comes as part of the package with BI solutions. Users can access relevant and timely data on how the business is performing across all domains. By instantly converting raw data into actionable information, automated reporting eliminates the challenges associated with traditional forms of reporting. Now users can see what has happened, what is happening, and what is likely to happen in the future.

    Reports can be generated automatically at set times, such as every monday morning for the weekly sales meeting. Reports also may be triggered by certain events, such as when sales figures fall within a certain range. Self-service analytics also provides users with a customizable dashboard for on-demand reporting based on job role. A dashboard allows users to see what is happening in real-time, and to drill down into the details to see the root cause of problems, as well as to identify new trends and opportunities. From sales teams to inventory managers, users have access to up-to-the-moment data from anywhere, on any device.

    Security

    The cloud offers cost savings as well as added security benefits. IT managers and CTOs work with the SaaS providers to determine the level of access to be provided to users in their business. They can determine when devices should be able to access resources and restrict permissions to users based on their job roles. Security should be a priority. Both in private cloud and dedicated SaaS, it is important to manage and minimize data breaches the best way possible. To ensure the ongoing security of customer data, independent regular vulnerability and penetration testing and having a security incident response policy in place is recommended.

    When companies embrace automation, employees have time to work on items that add genuine value to the business, allowing them to be more innovative and increase levels of motivation. Customers also benefit from improved service and experience.

    Source: Phocas Software

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