6 workflow automation trends we’ll see in 2019

Process Automation on the Mechanism of Metal Gears.
Image credit: depositphotos

Companies must remain competitive to sustain their success in 2019 and the next decade. As they refine their practices, the automation of their workflow and work processes will prove indispensable. Only through innovation and reorganization can they keep pace in an increasingly digital landscape.

In this regard, automation is critical. Professionals at all levels of the corporate hierarchy have a long list of duties that divide their attention, and they have to delegate some of their smaller tasks to prioritize their more pressing responsibilities. They’re in need of solutions to alleviate that stress.

Fortunately, they have access to a wide variety of these solutions, and they’re improving with each passing year. The repetitive chores that would otherwise distract an executive from their projects are no longer such a burden. They’ve enjoyed new freedom through automation, and it’s only getting better.

This article seeks to explore the ways in which automation is developing, taking a closer look at some of the trends you should watch for in 2019.

As technology continues to advance, transform and build upon itself, companies will change alongside it. Here are six examples of what that evolution will look like.

1. Automated decision-making from AI

Professionals already entrust certain tasks to artificial intelligence, such as the automation of back-office administrative activities. While they’re capable of these processes — and have proven their value — business owners are somewhat hesitant to give them larger responsibilities. This is set to change in 2019.

The application of artificial intelligence for decision-making will soon expand. With consulting their human counterparts, AI will automatically act on their behalf, deciding to refund a customer’s purchase, for example. If AI and automation trends follow their current trajectory, this is likely to happen in the coming months.

2. Piecemeal integration of tools

Companies will move away from end-to-end solutions that automate a more substantial part of their business, shifting toward a piecemeal integration of tools. While some business owners have already done this, the practice will see greater attention moving into 2019. The transition makes sense.

When you insert simple tools into a manual process, you accelerate it. Over time, as the tools grow more sophisticated, that manual process will organically evolve to a fully automated process. This iterative approach is often faster and less expensive, as you can change with the introduction of new systems.

3. Consolidation of software solutions

Consolidated platforms are far more appealing than disparate software solutions. When you take these software solutions and join them into a holistic program for easy management, you save time and improve workflow. Some companies are beginning to do this, and others will follow before the end of 2019.

As an example, one company developed a code-checker and time-tracker to automate their software testing and reporting workflows. They integrated these systems with their project management suite, which has saved them many hours of work, improved management and enhanced the quality of their deliverables.

4. Incorporation of virtual assistants

Amazon CTO Werner Vogel outlined his plan early last year to get Alexa for Business in every office. With the popularity of virtual assistants, this seems reasonable, and employees are amenable to the idea. The capacity of Alexa and other virtual assistants to streamline and simplify automation is considerable.

Soon enough, employees will have the ability to delegate their duties through voice commands, starting conference calls and requesting time off. Virtual assistants will integrate with existing software and smart speakers to make it easy and convenient to manage tasks around the workplace.

5. Greater emphasis on intelligence

Intelligent tools like IBM’s Watson and Salesforce’s Einstein are already common in everyday workflows, and similar systems will see greater adoption. Beyond this, businesses will begin to apply machine learning and AI technology to the process of creating automation, influencing all aspects of implementation.

This will prove especially helpful for standard business processes, where automation is valuable. For example, finance and accounting, human resources and product orders and distribution. Professionals in these departments will enjoy the benefits of automation and worry far less over its development or integration.

6. Elimination of “old school” hardware

Automation has applications in recruitment, simplifying the process so managers can focus their attention elsewhere. JobAdder serves as an excellent case study for the efficiency of these systems, so effective that they were able to eliminate communication hardware like fax machines, scanners and printers.

As companies continue to make the transition toward digital documentation and communication, their efforts will eliminate the need for certain kinds of equipment.

Automation will facilitate this transition, and the physical tools that were once so familiar will start to disappear, no longer necessary.

The value of automation technologies

When you review the statistics, the value of automation is clear. An incredible 99 percent of companies waste time and resources on inefficient tasks. More than that, managers spend as much as 20 percent of their week on basic administrative tasks that compete for their attention and distract them from other duties.

With automated decision-making from AI, the incorporation of virtual assistants and other innovations, business professionals will have far more freedom in their daily lives. Relieved from the pressures of their smaller, less important responsibilities, they can give their larger responsibilities the time and energy they require.

Whether your own work benefits from automation or you have an interest in this type of technology, watch for the six trends in this article. You’ll see them emerge as you move into 2019, with innovations in software consolidation and tool integration, among other areas. These changes are coming soon.

With this in mind, research the subject in greater detail and learn how you could streamline your workflow and processes through automation. You might find that developments in automation allow for new opportunities in your field, implementing technologies that were previously irrelevant or inaccessible.

Most of all, keep an open mind when assessing your options.

Every business has room for improvement, and with access to automation technologies, every company has the systems and software it needs to improve.

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