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The Slow Forward March of Automation

Technology is changing at an ever-growing pace. The saying has become a cliché. Regardless, it’s never been truer. What is maybe faster than changes in technology is the flow of all kinds of information in and out of our organizations. I’m not just talking about impacts on the IT department, either. Anyone in any department that produces, manages and uses data in its many forms is affected by information volume. So I’m talking about pretty much everyone.

Content management strategies, or rather, information strategies, need to change to keep up with all that information. To keep up with the pace of change, we need to automate how information flows also: invoicing and receivables: onboarding and off-boarding, manufacturing, even content management.

All these processes and countless others can benefit from automation that increases efficiency and accuracy and reduces costs and human errors.

Yet, with all the potential that comes with modernizing our systems, why have we been so slow to move forward with automation?

AUTOMATE_ALREADY

Automation: the leading edge or the bleeding edge?

One barrier to automation is the danger of the bleeding edge. It can be risky if you move too fast, like before the technology is proven. This might be an example of shiny object syndrome, where we think we must have the very latest. The latest doesn’t always mean the greatest, though, nor does it always give us a competitive edge.

Of course, being on the leading edge would be nice. Therefore, we can’t ignore the downright risks of not adopting automation, whether it’s in ECM or any other business application. The longer we wait, the faster the costs from ineffective manual processes will rise, not to mention security risks and compliance issues. And from a people retention perspective, no one likes working in an archaic environment while their peers move ahead.

Tech moves fast – organizations don’t

While most companies stay away from the bleeding edge, we can agree that we have to move forward, at least in principle. And yet we seem to crawl.

That’s because organizations are made of people. Unlike machines, people can’t simply change their programming on command. We’re used to doing things the way we’ve done them before, no matter the inefficiencies. Even when we agree to modernize, we resist change because it is uncomfortable. Look at how our companies, after decades of digital advances, still run on countless reams of paper.

Deciding who goes first is tough too. When technology changes faster than the business can adapt – and it does – someone has to decide who gets what, in what order, and how quickly.

That someone is usually the IT team. But information strategy is not an IT-only venture. If IT doesn’t get buy-in from across the organization, the wheels of automation will grind to a halt, if indeed they ever got started. When everyone wants first dibs, agreement can be tricky.

Who gets to reap the first benefits or take the first risks? Which department gets the most say-so and the most budget for change? How can we make incremental changes without widespread ripples throughout the organization? And how can we possibly train everyone while systems keep changing?

The promise of automation is that it will make things easier. But even if it’s for the better, change is still change.

Making information automation more palatable

Change is more than nudging people to adopt and adapt to technology. After all, content management is years beyond people scanning and storing documents digitally. Curation, management and delivery are all done with complex software. Even so, it still requires human intervention.

As the internet of things and digital mesh evolve, the volume of information pouring from all sides will double and triple, sight unseen. Certainly it won’t all be seen by human eyes. Add big data analytics and intelligent machine learning and we either adapt or get crushed. And eventually we’ll trust machines to make decisions based on the insights discovered by other machines.

That means embracing automation. We needn’t be reckless about it, and we needn’t do it all at once. But embrace it we must, if we intend to prosper in the digital economy.

For help automating your information management, request a consultation with Systemware’s team of experts.

 

 

About the Author:

Guest Author With years of programming, R&D, and most importantly, real-life, in-the-trenches technical and business experience, her view is simple. Andrea appreciates that with a strategy, solutions can be intelligent curators of secure information for end users and systems while remaining flexible and easy.

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