By Maria Dzhanan, Vice President, Oracle Digital, JAPAC
A new report, “COVID-19, 4IR (Industrial Revolution) and the Future of Work,” recently published by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), pointed out how the COVID-19 pandemic is already fast-forwarding the push for automation across the region. Global lockdowns have forced social distancing of workforces, both locally and abroad, and there are ongoing concerns around deploying workers who are considered more at-risk due to pre-existing conditions or old age.
These restrictions are forcing organizations to explore new ways of working and reaching out to customers, and to look at new ways of boosting productivity. With operations done offsite, in some cases, automatically, it is becoming increasingly clear that many repetitive, manual tasks can be handled easily by technology, enabling employees to spend time on other high-level, creative pursuits that require the human touch.
But while automation is fast becoming the answer to some business challenges, deciding what to automate is not easy. What may work for your competitor may not work for you. Automation should not dictate how you run your operations. Where can your organization automate to your advantage, saving time and cutting costs? Here are some of my thoughts:
Removing labor-intensive tasks
If there’s one thing that machines can do, it’s labor-intensive manual tasks.
A key area of the business that can benefit is IT itself. IT teams can be freed up from spending time on repetitive and time-consuming activities such as physically patching, updating and monitoring systems. Instead, the machine takes on those tasks, making it simple for those without specialized technology skills in these areas to provision and gain access to new services.
For instance, iFoundries, a digital marketing agency based in Singapore, believes that the interface of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is user-friendly and that even staff without a background in IT are able to interact with the platform. Running a large part of its operations, including web applications, marketing and email automation applications under OCI, iFoundries cites ease of use, security, stability and cost savings as key reasons why they have consistently expanded their cloud consumption on OCI. Prior to their OCI implementation, iFoundries ran around 40 disparate servers independently. Faced with escalating server maintenance cost, the need for a hardware refresh and an expectation of growing business demand, iFoundries shifted several of its operations to OCI. Since being on OCI, the monthly cost of server maintenance is down by almost 50%.
Making data simple
And it’s not just in the area of IT where this benefit can be enjoyed. The tabulation and analysis of data, which is increasingly a necessity in helping businesses make decisions, is also a highly repetitive and manual task.
Modern data management cloud services better enable data to be taken from anywhere, in real time, and analyzed for insights that would be overlooked by even the most experienced data scientist.
Take Triple A Super, a specialist self-managed superfund (SMSF) provider that operates out of the United Kingdom and Australia. Working in a highly fragmented market, the company is using Oracle Autonomous Database Warehouse (ADW) to differentiate itself and to be selected as a provider of choice by its customers – accountants and financial advisors. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), ADW is able to automate the routine collation of the datasets, helping to improve speed to market and provide better reporting to Triple A’s clients. As part of this, Triple A Super is developing a wealth management ecosystem to satisfy their need for greater information.
Additionally, where employees manually repeat the same process of data entry for large periods of their working day, human error often becomes a key issue. Automating data entry then has the potential to result in better accuracy and improve employee productivity.
The time-saving and added capabilities also have the ability to enable organizations to focus on value added tasks, like innovation. The cloud has proven to be a godsend to organizations that have embraced automation technologies pre-COVID-19. And for those that have yet to get on the cloud, the decision-making process to do so has been accelerated.
However, not all clouds are created equally. There are cloud infrastructure technologies today that have the additional benefit of having autonomous operations as part of their foundation, bringing additional benefits such as the ability to upgrade “on-the-fly.” reducing downtime.
We are quickly entering a new age of automation, where machines and AI in any form would be increasingly viewed as assistants or co-workers. While technology is not a magic solution to all challenges, automation can streamline processes and prepare your organization to reset and rebuild for post-COVID-19. As you consider the suggestions, it is important to note that these plans for automation need to be viewed as a work-in-progress and should change depending on how your organization and employees adapt and adopt.