May 19, 2020

[Q&A] Steljes Boss on the Rise of Smart Technology

Raben Group
Raben Group Slawomir Pawlak
Annifer Jackson
3 min
[Q&A] Steljes Boss on the Rise of Smart Technology

Martin joined Steljes as Financial Director in June 1996, became Managing Director in March 2003, and Group Chief Executive when the company evolved in July 2005. Today, the company has revenues of £57m. Here he took time out to talk to Business Review Europe about the rise of smart technology.

BR EME: How would you explain smart technologies to your average office-worker?

ML: At the simplest level, smart technologies are time-saving digital replacements for your typical dry erase whiteboard or office flip chart.

What problems do these technologies solve?

Meeting gripes: most meetings end with someone having to transcribe the meeting’s discussion and action points before anyone can get moving, but these technologies allow teams to document the journey, destination and actions and e-mail them as the meeting ends for immediate communication and ultimate business efficiency.

Full team contribution: you don’t have to be present at a meeting to physically add your ideas to the meeting presentation because you can just link up to the meeting via your internet enabled device and write over the presentation in digital ink for all to see.

Smooth remote working: companies often use audio and video conferencing solutions but these technologies only partly answer the problem –what’s the point of being able to hear and see each other if everyone is taking their own separate (potentially inaccurate) paper notes?

SMART visual collaboration solutions enable teams to both see and hear each other and anyone at the meeting – regardless of their location – and take over the screen to share comments digitally over any application.

Who is currently using smart collaborative technologies?

These technologies are used by every type of organisation and in every vertical. We work with multinational enterprises like EDF, Audi and BT, with charities such as the RSCPA, and organisations in the public sector like the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – you’d be surprised how much of a difference smart collaborative technologies can make to every type of business.

O2 are using the technology to improve their operational efficiency. Instead of travelling to meetings, O2 employees use SMART’s visual collaboration solutions, which have helped them to realise significant cost benefits.

Why should other businesses invest in collaborative technologies?

The world of work is in the midst of significant cultural change, driven mainly by technology advances and a desire from employees to have a better work/life balance. 

Companies are increasingly adopting BYOD and work from home policies, especially in the light of the recent developments in law that extend the statutory right to request flexible working to all employees who have  over 26 weeks' service.

Where do you see these smart technologies going in five years’ time and what will they have changed?

Going into the office on a daily basis will become a thing of the past, as using interactive technologies that have a video element will be the normal way of working. This is great news for all those commuters who spend hours every week just trying to get to and from work. 

Also, I’d say that organisations will no longer be providing technology for their employees to use as BYOD will have superseded this requirement.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

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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