As of 2018, the business automation market has reached a colossal $8.2 billion, with numbers expected to rise to $12.7 billion by 2021. Increased workforce agility, data accuracy and improved operational scale are all cited as major motivators for automation investment. For entrepreneurs finding ways to automate certain time-consuming processes, this may sound like a godsend. But is automation always the best path?
While it may be an unpopular opinion in a world driven by data and innovation, there are several key areas within your business where the human touch will always prevail.
Here, we will look at when you should and when you shouldn’t automate your business.
When to automate: Social media scheduling and curation
Ninety one percent of people surveyed believe automation could save users time on repetitive tasks. With experts suggesting businesses should be posting up to 30 times a day on a single platform, social media posting can become rather competitive.
There are plenty of great automated tools to aid your social media strategy, such as:
- Hootsuite is a simple tool to help schedule and optimize your social posts. It includes features that automatically find the best time to engage your audience.
- Inbound.li is a brilliant tool for curating content. Simply by selecting your area of interest, the tool finds relevant content for you to quickly and easily share with your audience.
- Buzzsumo helps you to discover trending topics related to your domain. The tool allows you to track how well certain content topics are performing and use it as a guide for your own social posts and content creation.
When not to automate: Community management
You can spot a heavily automated social channel a mile off. These channels are the ones that don’t react to trending topics, don’t engage with audience comments and more often than not, put their automated foot in it, so to speak.
Take Domino’s Pizza. After receiving a compliment from a customer on Facebook, the restaurant replied with the wrong automated response, apologizing for their service.
Automated social posts are no match for the work of a small dedicated team.
In fact, this is where small businesses and entrepreneurs going it alone have the competitive edge.
While it may be a challenge to keep up with an audience the size of Domino’s, newer businesses can still afford the personal touch. By not relying on an automated process, you can offer your audience a human, two-sided conversation.
Many businesses have found that taking the time to engage with their audience on social media positively impacted their traffic. Our sister company, Articulate Marketing, went human for three months. In that time, they saw:
- A 5 percent rise in followers
- A 32 percent rise in interactions
- Eight new contact submissions
The point is: no matter how developed your automated service is, people like to know they’re interacting with a real person.
When to automate: HR management systems
While we all know what the H stands for, HR is getting less and less human. Automated services are taking the HR world by storm. In fact, 33 percent of those working with automated HR systems state they are satisfied with the results, while 28 percent state they are very satisfied.
There are plenty of incredible automated tools on the market to aid the efficiency of your HR efforts:
- Unilever recently revealed they are using AI technology to help streamline their recruitment process
- 15five is a tool that allows employers to monitor their employee productivity and achievement. It allows busy bosses to give meaningful feedback to their staff
When not to automate: HR support
While there are many incredible automated HR tools that can accelerate processes, when it comes to giving support, nothing can replace person to person contact.
A talented HR professional will have the skills to resolve internal conflict, help to develop employee growth and offer encouragement in times of need. Successful HR personnel are gifted sympathizers and understand the importance of employee to employee support. No matter how advanced our technology becomes, empathy is a skill only humans can possess.
For entrepreneurs with small teams, it’s even more important to support your staff in person. You have the ability and resources to sit down with your team, let them voice any concerns and help them to grow their skill set. When it comes to HR, your smaller size is an advantage.
A winning combination
Automation is the future of business. Thanks to some of the incredible automated tools on the market, enterprises are now able to deliver improved operations, accelerated processes and better working conditions for their staff.
However, full automated services can be expensive and sometimes the cost can outweigh the return on investment. In fact, a 2017 survey found that 35 percent of people believed the immediate cost-savings of automation were not attractive enough to invest in.
For entrepreneurs, many high-end automation tools may be out of your budget. While we would suggest taking advantage of quality free tools, it’s important for businesses to recognize the limitations of automation, your budget may be better spent elsewhere.
Not every process can or should be left up to technology. When it comes to engaging with your customers and team members, be it on social media or through traditional HR support, humans beat robots every time. The ideal solution is an investment in automation and improved interpersonal skills. An enterprise that utilizes the best tools while nurturing their employees’ valuable soft skills is a business to watch out for.