As we navigate a time different from the one we would have liked or wanted, we’re bringing to you a series of blogs, writeups, and LinkedIn resources that we call New Now. In today’s New Now blog, we talk about how businesses can begin to recover and mitigate some of the significant disruption with help from automation.
One McKinsey & Company report suggested, well before the pandemic, that over 30% of manual jobs currently could be automated by 2030. The same report also says that this change could actually bring in more jobs into the economy and that people would need to skill themselves accordingly.
But automation isn’t just a good-to-have feature anymore. For their own well-being and those of the people around them, companies and individuals alike will actively look to automate as many processes as possible, thus reducing the need for manual intervention and the close calls that might involve.
We also need to bear in mind that as all-consuming as it seems right now, the pandemic in its current state will change and subside. What this radical shift really does for businesses is it helps them see what costs they can cut, and where they can better utilize their workforces.
For the fiscal quarters that follow, many industries will continue to focus only on the costs they can cut. Three main solutions can help, and the use of technology and automation can make these processes faster and easier.
1.Analytics for real-time information: Everyone in the retail industry is feeling the heat, but the fashion and apparel industry is feeling it the most. In the business of clothing manufacturing, what is essentially a nice-to-have product in a thriving economy likely will not be purchased in current circumstances. The industry is looking at steep reductions in demand, as well as a restricted ability to predict future trends.
The only fallback, then, is real-time analysis. Fashion and apparel retailers have a tremendous opportunity here – to use real-time analytics and data to predict what they should stock up on, and how much. This could be a big welcome breath for brands that continue to struggle with too much inventory and a severely fragmented supply chain.
Another example is the airline industry. Using real-time data on infection rates and noticing which sectors open up first, they can plan their flight rosters and figure out which staff they need to bring back, and in what time frame. By linking powerful analytics with automated flight rosters, complex, data-driven decisions that now need to be made can be made that much faster.
2.Preserving brand value and customer satisfaction: Much has been said about marketing in the current scenario. For some time now, most businesses have been riding the wave of a thriving economy. For about a year, though, we have heard predictions of a possible recession but certainly not on the scale we see now.
Companies around the globe have to rethink not just what they say, but how well they can walk the talk. Consumers of both B2B and B2C brands are navigating some very sensitive times and simply do not take kindly to an undelivered or under-delivered promise.
The next logical step for brands is ensuring that they can deliver on all the promises they make. We are heading into a territory where every individual is trying to find a new job or hold onto the one they have, and to save money while they can. Something as simple as getting a timely refund can put everyone at ease.
Serving multiple stakeholders in a shorter time window can be achieved using intelligent automation. For instance, Jiffy.ai has been able to help clients in the airline space accomplish improved turnaround times of 300% on ticket cancellations and refunds, while also significantly reducing errors.
3.Preparing for the future: Companies today face a twofold challenge – delivering on an authentic customer experience and managing their cash flows to ride out the storm, and regroup for the next phase.
Generating demand is crucial for the cash registers to start ringing again. Unfortunately, demand forecasting will be a real struggle for many industries in the post-pandemic world. Consumer habits have changed, in some cases forcibly, and wallets have tightened in a tough economy.
AI solutions can problem-solve in real-time when demand forecasting may seem like a mirage. Inventory management can be integrated with AI, helping retailers sync demand and inventory better. AI can also hook new and returning customers with a personalized experience along with identifying gaps in the offerings. This would certainly help businesses bounce back faster.
Looking ahead and planning for the future
Here are some other ways to optimize costs while also maintaining efficiency:
- Adapt to the new virtual culture such that all non-operations staff continue to work remotely, ensuring their continued safety and well-being
- Use automated cleaning and QC tools for spaces where people are needed physically
- Automate complex processes using intelligent automation to help cut costs and improve efficiency
The fact remains that people need to buy things and consume services. The growth will first be visible across essential and semi-essential commodities. Several businesses will have to display tremendous resilience as the demand curve slowly rises. Investing in intelligent automation now can create a path to more efficient processes being run at lower costs, setting the tone for overcoming the current challenges and a viable recovery.