Leveraging Automation to Transform Your Business
by Ken Neal
September 7, 2021
Automation has long been an important tool for businesses looking to increase efficiency and reduce costs. But the pandemic has forced leaders to think beyond the cost benefits to consider more boldly what automation can do for their organization.
COVID-19’s dramatic impact on business has highlighted the importance of strengthening organizational resilience and reducing risk. If you’re preparing to transform your business to meet current challenges and look beyond, you’re probably considering a wide range of digital transformation initiatives including automation. The latter — and partners that can help you leverage it — may give you a competitive advantage.
Business process automation, workflow automation and robotic process automation (RPA) are some of the technologies that can drive your transformation. At Canon, we have evolved our business process outsourcing services to bring you automated solutions that:
- Minimize risk: Tools such as digital document management, including managed print services and document imaging, help keep business-critical data secure and compliant. Documentation in the wrong hands can proliferate quickly and compromise your controls. With automated document management, you gain encryption and tracking across the process, ensuring that you maintain visibility and control.
- Advance the user experience: Automating processes and documentation management can expedite your service delivery, eliminate cumbersome paper and filing tasks, and generate data-rich workflows to better serve your customers. It’s the first step to meeting the on-demand expectations of today’s consumer. But it’s also a differentiator in the race for talent. Digitized document management empowers remote work, making you a more attractive employer.
- Improve your resilience: The increased control provided by automation allows your organization to adapt more quickly to sudden market shifts and seasonal demands. There is a correlation between a strong digital automation strategy and resilience, says Mark Walker, chief operating and technology officer for Canon Business Process Services “When you automate any business process, you take away the variability from human error, giving you more control, more predictability and better outcomes,” he says.
By looking beyond cost and identifying a managed service partner that understands your needs, you create new opportunities to realize value. Service providers such as Canon have expanded their capabilities to offer business transformation services such as RPA and digital mail, as well as supply chain services to increase performance in warehouse and distribution center operations.
One major financial services company offers a vivid example of automation’s evolving role in business resilience.
Canon Business Process Services managed nine automated software robots (bots) that scanned, indexed, and added millions of human resources claims into the company workflow, saving time, reducing errors, and enhancing efficiency. But the company’s claim volume quadrupled during the pandemic, and there wasn’t enough time to train existing resources to meet the surge. The Canon team helped increased the number of bots to 20, then 35, and finally 75 — all working 24/7 to deliver the outcomes the business needed. Quickly, a modest investment in automation built around cost savings became the key pillar of company resilience.
In addition to adapting, the company reduced risk: Handling millions of pieces of sensitive data in a highly regulated industry, the company prioritized security. Encryption across bots throughout the ecosystem protected this critical data. RPA also helped enrich the customer experience for its clients and partners. Digitization allowed the company to collate similar cases and data, putting them at the fingertips of knowledge workers and stakeholders for a deeper understanding of the customer.
As the nature of work transforms and hybrid models emerge, even the fundamental means of communication must transform. Forward-looking organizations are automating a significant aspect of their communications by digitizing mail.
“When a piece of mail comes in and has to enter your workflow as paper, it goes at the pace of the mail service,” Walker says. “But if it’s converted digitally, it goes at the speed of your network. And that’s a dramatic difference.”
Digital mail makes information actionable at lightening speeds by preparing it for your digital workflow, even when your workforce is remote.
Companies that use digital mail can see a dramatic reduction in the time to redirect information accidentally sent to the wrong party, without the risk of that sensitive information being lost or compromised. Customer service levels increase as delays disappear and response times become instantaneous. The wide-ranging benefits of digital mail also make it a powerful on-ramp for organizations just beginning their digital journey.
Today’s digital customer expects a seamless user experience and near-real-time delivery of goods or services. The pandemic has only amplified this expectation, and many traditional organizations struggle to satisfy it, especially in their warehouse, supply chain and operations environments.
One major manufacturer saw huge gains by leveraging Canon as a partner to accelerate its automation strategy. Increased customer demand meant this manufacturer was struggling to get picked parts from the warehouse to the production floor. Costly delays piled up. Canon introduced an automated warehouse management system (WMS) that integrated seamlessly with the organization’s existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This maximized the efficiency of inventory management, eliminated time-consuming physical tasks, and reduced the incidence of damaged or incorrect parts.
The manufacturer saw significant cost savings and increased its automation footprint with Canon’s help. Further enhancements to the process allowed it to store parts in “micro-warehouses” closer to the manufacturing floor; automate mail services; and sharpen safety procedures to reduce risk and increase productivity across the operations environment.
Every business knows that automation can speed processes, save money and help minimize risk. But savvy organizations are discovering that it brings much more to the table. Automating your business processes with the right solutions in the right places can make your business stronger, safer, and more customer-centric. And a partner like Canon Business Process Services can help you maximize this opportunity.