May 19, 2020

​How data analytics can give you a competitive advantage

Data Analytics
Birst
Southard Jones
2 min
​How data analytics can give you a competitive advantage

 

Customer expectations are now at an all-time high and competition is always increasing. Businesses are under constant pressure to increase efficiency and improve results.

At the same time, the amount of available data is also growing. Companies can now collate information from across their organisation and industry. This gives them a serious competitive advantage in seeing where improvements are needed, where trends in sales have increased or decreased, and where there are potential gaps in the market.

It’s therefore no surprise that data analytics has become an important tool across organisations. According to Robert Hetu, research director at Gartner: "Advanced analytics tools enable deeper insights and discovery that will challenge business assumptions. They also put information in the hands of business analysts and business users and offer significant potential to create business value and competitive advantage." Among many benefits, using data can help companies save thousands of pounds, improve their procurement efficiency, develop their marketing strategies, support business growth and, critically, differentiate themselves from competitors.

By bringing together data from across the business, companies can get real-time insights into finance and sales, marketing and product development, and much more. This data enables each team within the business to collaborate better, achieve better results and outsell rival companies.

Using networked business intelligence to link up different departments’ data across a company is also leading to change in the way operational tasks are done. With increased access to data, Networked BI provides more opportunities to spot trends in customer behaviour and peaks in sales, thus improving the relationship with customers and enabling a competitive advantage.

Further, if employees can view data in context, they can make smarter business decisions to achieve improved products and services. For instance, in the supply chain, real-time intelligence into deliveries, orders and returns can hugely improve efficiency. Thanks to gathering data, companies can bring together order information, customer requests and thousands of different configurations of products, services and bundled deals.

However, if this valuable data is handled inefficiently it can lead to problems, such as different departments within a company not understanding how to use it or share it. In this case, the data isn’t being used to its full potential or becoming a benefit to the company. Instead, it is just creating additional work and effort.

On the other hand, data has become a lot more accessible and is no longer suitable for only data scientists or analysts. Now, it can be used by everyone within a company to increase productivity and improve decision-making. Better use of data ultimately has a positive impact on the bottom line of any business.

 

Southard Jones is Vice President of Product Strategy at Birst

Follow @BizReviewEurope

 

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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