PepsiCo uses several automations to maximize its resources, even on the field. Source: Shutterstock

PepsiCo uses several automations to maximize its resources, even on the field. Source: Shutterstock

Here’s how automation can fix the talent gap in the short term

AUTOMATION is an effective way to turbocharge executives in most business functions. In most cases, simple automation is also affordable, easy to build, and quick to deploy.

In fact, most companies are using some degree of automation today to help their staff focus on more important tasks.

Companies like PepsiCo, P&G, and even Airbus use many kinds of automation  — from robotic process automation (RPA) to more advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-powered automation — to augment the capabilities of their staff.

Aside from allowing executives to do more of what really matters, automation can also help fix the talent gap.

Teams that have automation supporting them can naturally do more with fewer people. The only prerequisite, however, is that the team must have the right leadership to empower team members and help them take up more meaningful tasks.

Here are a few divisions and tasks that can immediately benefit from automation:

# 1 | Accounting and finance

Accounting and finance is one of the most traditional roles. However, it’s also one that can most easily be automated.

RPA solutions can quickly be set up to find invoices in emails, use character recognition to digitize the document and add an entry to the company’s accounting system or ERP.

Further automations can also facilitate payment, help optimize cash flows, and generate reports about suppliers and customers to determine who are the most valuable and which ones need replacement.

# 2 | Digital marketing

Digital marketing is quite an exciting field — not only because the function is a new niche in businesses but also because marketers are actively evaluating automation to improve efficiencies and do more with their time.

In most cases, simple automation can help with posting schedules and content calendars. However, more advanced automations that leverage AI can help organizations achieve customer-level personalization even for B2C companies.

Business leaders might even find it surprising that recent studies have shown that digital marketers are least likely to seek the support of IT teams when it comes to choosing and deploying automation solutions — indicating the propensity to adapt to automation when the directive comes from the CEO/board.

# 3 | Logistical operations

Logistics teams often have a lot of manual tasks to take care of, especially because it involves working directly with those on the shop floors and warehouses who are usually not receptive to the organization’s digitization efforts.

This is why logistics operations professionals can really benefit from the use of automation.

Similar to finance executives, operations people often receive handwritten logs and memos regarding the ins and outs of goods. These can easily be digitized using simple AI tools and RPA.

Given the nature of the tasks, these often take a little longer to set up but are a step in the right direction when it comes to helping the team do more with fewer people.

# 4 | Payroll management

Human resources teams are often short staffed. They’re the ones that spend much of their time providing resources to other teams in the organization but tend to have fewer hands than necessary in most cases.

However, many of the basic tasks that the team performs are also quite repetitive — making them one of the best teams to get started with automation.

Take payroll management, for example. Claims submitted by executives are usually digital, and processes usually involve the approver at some point. Leaves (and pay deductions for extra leaves if necessary) are also digitally recorded as per policy. Using RPA, a large chunk of payroll management tasks, therefore, can be automated.

# 5 | Cybersecurity

We often hear executives complain about cybersecurity being a challenge because there aren’t enough people to support the function.

However, using advanced AI, many tasks that the cybersecurity team performs can be automated.

Take endpoint vulnerability management for example. Given the new-age bring your own device (BYOD) trend and the growth IoT devices connecting to networks, endpoints are quickly increasing the surface vulnerability for organizations.

Using automation, these can be scanned individually each time they try to connect — helping secure the network without increasing headcount.