COVID-19 and the Automation Expansion

In light of the COVID-19, it seems the tech world is being disrupted – just like every other sector. This new environment is challenging, and will alter the way businesses operate in ways we have yet to predict. While we all had an idea that companies would continue their trajectory towards digitization, we had no idea it would happen so fast. Yet, the post-COVID landscape demands just that.

The pace at which the pandemic has spread globally, and likewise has affected our economies was already unprecedented. Where many IT departments had the luxury of time pre-COVID, now that is no longer the case. Initiatives need to be scaled within weeks, not years.

Any business that wants to survive in our current environment has had to quickly transition their physical channels to the digital space. Food and grocery delivery servers had to go contactless. None of these types of processes could have undergone swift change without the aid of automation and RPA.

What does this mean? It means it’s time for action. Almost overnight, companies had to digitize in many ways. And, the digital channels are now the primary channels for sales and productivity. The pandemic has changed customer behavior in a way that is likely to persist.

Even as local economies start to reopen, more companies may leave their remote workers as is and cut down on building and facility costs. So then, where do automation and RPA come in? Keep reading to learn more.

Automation and crisis mitigation

Companies that already have automation processes deployed will have had an easier time managing productivity, addressing overwhelmed customer support centers, ensuring the back-office automation is on task, setting up their remote team members, and optimizing supply chains.

In addition, public center organizations that have implemented automation will have had an easier time distributing funds to those that need it, distributing food, and ensuring public health data is updated.

For schools, they can use automation to distribute necessary resources, automate class schedules, and to automate bulk licensing for collaboration software.

For some grocery chains, automation helps with managing inventory, making sure in-demand items are automatically ordered, and ensuring employees are following safe and healthy protocols.

Why are automation and RPA more important than ever?

The post-pandemic world will require a deeper understanding of the current environment, and use automation to meet customer needs while improving client relationships. A company that can instantly meet the new demands may gain instant credibility in an economy forever changed by COVID-19.

Further, automation and RPA are not about destroying jobs. Instead, they are about creating higher-quality work. For instance, as we are all seeing the effect of COVID-19 on our global supply chains, automation can help to become a critical component for reimagining and deploying supply chains that are closer to home and better protected against future pandemics. Instead of relying on cheap foreign labor, countries can utilize automation.

Just think of how automation is used in digital payments, protecting humans from being exposed to viruses by eliminating the need for money or card exchange and signatures. Automation offers the potential to create many more of this type of example.

While millions of people have filed for unemployment, automation has worked to plug some of the holes. The outlook is clear: Automation was already a trend, but global adoption will happen at a much faster rate now. Really, it’s during times of crisis that the most crucial technology investments are made. More often than not, disaster and recovery plans eventually become mainstream.

Where are the automation opportunities?

For the most part, some of the hardest hit industries have been in the service sector. Right now, many businesses have the opportunity to automate certain interactions such as an automated bartender and more. Moreover, kiosk ordering systems will see an uptick in deployment as an additional buffer in the event of another pandemic.

While many of the essential businesses such as grocery chains have had to focus more on ensuring contactless delivery and the associated logistics to deliver orders on time and safely. Although, stocking shelves, filling trucks, and providing deliveries can be labor-intensive.  As a result, automation can help to make it easier to perform these types of jobs.

And, when businesses are mandated to shut down for health reasons, automation can provide relief and business continuity when it is needed the most. Not to mention, automation can cut costs while adding disruption resiliency.

Adding automation to operations will not only make them more resilient to disruption, but can also cut costs.

Consider the plight of our healthcare organizations. Massive volumes of medical test processing, serving patients on a timely basis, and onboarding thousands of new team members are needed rapidly to help mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, businesses are seeing the need to revamp their current business models and processes. RPA, and automation, can provide support for all of the above including the following:

  • Filling orders faster
  • Supporting call centers
  • Automating processes for shifting employees to remote work

It isn’t the end of the world as we know it, but it is the end of business as usual. So then, to ensure business continuity and a healthy environment for your employees, the need to accelerate your automation strategy is much more crucial.

Be better prepare for long-term changes

There are short-term and long term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. When everyone has to stay home, companies need an automated workforce. If you haven’t deployed your automation and RPA initiative, now would be the time to do it. Then, take time to optimize.

Final thought

The shock of this pandemic is triggering quicker responses. The good news is the technology is ready for the task. Automation and RPA offer a buffer against economic implications we could have never predicted. If core tasks can continue running as usual, then employee shortages won’t cause as much fear and concern. If, and when, another global emergency occurs, we can have the luxury of allowing our team members the time to protect their health and worry about work when it’s safe to do so.






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