What really is software automation and why should businesses champion it?

As the title suggests, it’s pretty much a no brainer, right? If you’d asked any business whether automation is good, 99.99% of them would say a resounding yes. However, many small businesses today are still running many manual processes every day. The answer we often hear is “we don’t want to spend additional funds” or “the onboarding process sounds tedious”. Sounds relatable to you?

Automate and streamline are 2 buzzwords that have been around for the longest time – but many people do not really grasp how these terms translate into their business’ daily operations or the how to kick start the whole process. For the sake of today’s sharing, we will confine automation to the software industry.

To start off, automation is defined as the ‘use or introduction of automatic equipment in a manufacturing or other process or facility’. As you can see its definition is largely skewed towards the physical world where the use of robotic equipment, conveyor belts and other hardware are being used. What about the software world then? I would like to define it as the seamless flow of data within an application or between 2 or more digital applications that helps the user collect, collate and analysis data for better decision making or to complete a task more efficiently.

So how do these work? IT automation can be briefly broken down into 3 areas – an all in one system, via API integration or RPA. The latter has been covered previously so I won’t be talking about it today. An all in one system is self-explanatory – it’s essentially a house where the inhabitants represent the different functions/departments of the systems. API integration in layman terms is the building of passers and receivers on the software applications to facilitate the passing of information between each other. This method is best suited if the business are using many different softwares that are currently not connected to each other.

For example, a  business can collect data from the user via their booking on one application, save the data automatically in their own database application, tag useful information along the way right up to their payment history, using a payment gateway application. It saves time and provides a better experience for the customer.

However, as I’ve mentioned many business shy away from automation because it is essentially an investment. Often a time, business owners tend to emphasise on the dollar value of investing in automation instead of the other (in)tangible benefits it offers. Committing $10,000 upfront for RPA may seem daunting – but if it saves your staff a few hours a day or a week doing menial tasks, these hours could stack up in a month. On top of that, the hours saved on these menial tasks can be channelled to doing more revenue generating tasks, increasing your firm’s productivity. It is painful to see businesses encumbered with many mundane tasks daily for the sake of saving their cash, when they fail to see the benefits of automation paying off in the future.

Having said that, there are also times where automation may not be so valuable, if you are speaking about businesses with say, either less than 3 people and/or a monthly revenue of a less than $5,000; automation works hand in hand with scaling.

Hope this short article has enlightened you on what software automation is, feel free to drop us an email should you like to find out more!