Today, technology and business are more intertwined than ever before. In fact, technology has impacted just about every business process you can imagine. From the supply chain to marketing to graphic design, technology tools and the processes they create are playing an increasingly important role in the day-to-day responsibilities of many professionals.
Although many organizations have been quick to implement new technologies into their front-office operations (the side of the organization that directly generates customer revenue), back-office processes, like IT, human resources, and accounting, often languish in outdated technology. FSN’s Innovation in the Finance Function Survey 2018 found that, despite the 88% of Chief Financial Officers who are keen to adopt innovative solutions into the back office, only 12% have actually implemented any.
However, incorporating these emerging technologies into your back-office operations can improve efficiency, productivity, and even employee morale.
Here’s how three of today’s emerging technologies can streamline your back-office operations.
There was a time when the term automation was merely associated with advanced manufacturing plants full of robotics. Although this is still a prime example of workplace automation, it’s far from the only one. From sending automatic emails responses to deploying thousands of bots, each programmed to automate specific job functions, automation exists in modern businesses both large and small.
Using automation in your back-office processes encourages employees to spend less time on mundane or repetitive activities that may no longer require their attention. In fact, a study published by Samanage revealed today’s employees lose around 520 hours per year to repetitive tasks that could be automated. Automation-based tools can be implemented to streamline a number of tasks for your back-office professionals, including writing job descriptions and screening candidates for HR professionals or filing tax information and maintaining compliance for accounting personnel.
Artificial intelligence-powered digital assistants, often referred to as chatbots, were quickly integrated into many front-office activities, but more recently, are appearing in back-office functions too. Today, chatbots are most widely recognized for their use in customer service-based scenarios, where they replace a human representative. They can answer queries on e-commerce sites and even social media platforms, providing details on anything from product information to shipping status.
Given the convenience and efficiency digital assistants have already provided to customer-facing activities, it’s no surprise they are quickly being implemented into back-end resources. For example, several business applications being used by many back-office professionals, like enterprise resource planning (ERP), human capital management (HCM), and customer experience (CX) systems, now feature digital assistant capabilities. In back-end applications, these assistants can provide instantaneous reports, data analytics, and can even guide employees through specific business processes.
Although the concept of cloud technology isn’t new, it’s quickly become a valuable tool. According to research from the International Data Group, 73% of businesses are already using the cloud in one capacity or another, and 17% say they plan to implement cloud-based solutions in the next year.
Companies looking to implement cloud-based tools should be sure to select a provider that operates on their own cloud versus companies like Infor Lawson or Workday that rely on third parties to access the cloud. In day-to-day operations, purely cloud-based tools make organizational communication much easier. Rather than sending files back and forth over email or exchanging information through lengthy phone calls, team members can collaboratively update and share documents in real time. This reduces the time it takes to complete any given task, especially tasks that require cross-departmental insight. On the other hand, using solutions that don’t have a proprietary cloud doesn’t offer the same ease of communication from one department to the next.
The ease of communication cloud-based technologies provide can also encourage employees to approach work more collaboratively. This reduces the time it takes to produce reports or other deliverables, and allows teams to efficiently accomplish projects.
As emerging technologies play an increasingly important role in business, it’s time for today’s business leaders to evaluate how tech-focused tools, like those named above, can streamline their back-office operations. Technologies like automation, digital assistants, and the cloud can not only improve the efficiency and productivity of your employees, but can have lasting benefits on your business outcomes.