Project Description

INTRODUCTION

Historically speaking, humans have always opted for doing things with minimal effort while trying to maximise output. We prefer to spend our time relaxing instead of working too hard, if possible. Levers have helped us carry more weight than we are physically able to and machines have helped us work faster and more efficiently. The internet has brought a whole new world of possibilities with on-demand services and the greatest variety of products at our fingertips.

Generally speaking, service automation is a broad term that in most instances encompasses the concept of technology that is used to help employees complete necessary tasks easier and with greater efficiency. There are a variety of different ways an organisation might benefit from automating their service offering. In this article, we will be going more in-depth on the term Service Automation, its history and its applications on an enterprise level.

WHAT IS SERVICE AUTOMATION?

“A means of delivering value to users by combining organisational resources and capabilities (personnel, technology, systems and partners) to facilitate desired outcomes without the ownership of specific costs and risks.”

The word automation derives from the word ‘automatic’. So naturally, automation is the practice by which a process or action is performed with minimal human interference. Automation involves the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories and other applications and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention.

Automation can be achieved in different ways such as mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic devices and computers, or sometimes in combination. Complicated systems, such as modern factories, airplanes and ships tend to use all these techniques simultaneously. Automating a service or process can brings many benefits to an organisation, including labor savings, reduced electricity costs, savings in material costs, and improvements to accuracy and quality of production.

Service automation is the process by which a company’s service offering is automated. It is the delivery of a service, but in a completely automated manner. This enables the user to decide exactly when and where they want a service. An example of this is Uber. A user can open the app whenever he likes and request a car pickup to any location of choice. Payments can be made electronically to reduce the amount of interaction between the user and driver. What differentiates Uber from normal taxi services is that they automate every step of the process. Searching for a driver, booking, finding an optimal route and payments are all automated. This streamlines and makes the service very easy to use for anyone, which has contributed to the app’s global success.

The way people perceive services has always been predominantly shaped by certain psychological factors and consumer behaviour. Sometimes we form our own opinions on a product or service based on personal experience or perhaps we are easily influenced by public opinion and trends. Service automation aims to identify everyday interactions to make them easier, more enjoyable, and more efficient.

Figure 1: Self check-in kiosks at airports are an example of service automation

BENEFITS OF SERVICE AUTOMATION

Accelerate Service Delivery

Service automation focuses on speed, quality, and reliability. Instead of continuing to rely on manual execution of requests and inquiries, automation lets you use technology rather than labour to accelerate the delivery of a desired outcome.

Increase Efficiency and Productivity

Automations and other new technologies are altering the very nature of many jobs, as well as creating new ones that didn’t exist before. These changes are leading to significant transformations for both employees and companies.

However, many industries still have administrative and mundane tasks that can be overwhelming sometimes. Repetitive tasks are more prone to human error as the difficulty to focus increases. Automation can relieve some of the burden from staff, allowing them to be more efficient with precious time and resources. In turn, this would increase productivity and efficiency.

When automation can handle a majority of repetitive work, it gives employees and companies time for more higher-value tasks such as problem-solving, finding solutions and developing new ideas. This will motivate employees and generate a more engaging and challenging work environment for everyone.

Increase Customer Satisfaction

When a service can be delivered quicker, cheaper, and better, it results in happier customers. In manufacturing, technology provides seamless connections across production and distribution chains, easing the process of getting products from the assembly floor to the customer. By implementing key automation technologies, you could change the way customers perceive and rate your business. By improving customer service, automation can reduce human error, improve employee morale, and quickly improve the image of your organisation (think of Uber, Netflix, Airbnb).

Reduce IT Costs

Every business or organisation faces pressure to increase profitability in order to maximise business value. One of the most common approaches to this is to reduce costs.

Automation is a better and more efficient approach to cost reduction because of the opportunities it poses. The greatest opportunity is to increase service to the user while simultaneously reducing costs.

Reduce Risk of Error

Errors are naturally occurring in every workplace, but they can be managed through a variety of mechanisms. Motivation and worker engagement are helpful in human-error reduction. Computers and automation are an effective method to reducing human error in processes.

FIVE KEY BUSINESS DRIVERS OF SERVICE AUTOMATION

Modern technology has changed the way consumers and companies interact with each other. Not long ago, in order to book a vacation you had to do so through a travel agent at a brick and mortar shop via personal contact. Nowadays, you can go online and book a vacation with a few digital interactions and no personal contact. The companies that predicted this digital wave and embraced the possibilities of online bookings such as Booking.com have now become market leaders.

Service automation can be seen as a business model that enables an organisation to gain competitive advantage by organising their service delivery. Organisations that establish automated services that are better, more efficient and more focused on user experience have the potential to become new market leaders.

Service automation has five key business drivers that enable organisations to outperform their competition.

  • Service Automation facilitates a scalable business model by which companies can enter new markets more easily and attract new customers.
  • Service Automation assists companies in making data-driven decisions based on earlier interactions with users and customers. More accurate information provides companies with a competitive advantage.
  • Service Automation is user centric. Services are always designed with the objective of providing an optimal user experience.
  • The aim of Service Automation is to automate unnecessary manual labour, providing a more cost-efficient service delivery organisation.
  • Breaking down services into easy-to-understand steps, a service automation framework can be implemented to consistently exceed user expectations.