Amidst the era of automation, businesses are actively seeking methods to enhance operational efficiency while fully utilizing their human capital.
In this edition of Let’s Talk, our experts delve deep into the repetitive tasks that are prime candidates for automation, providing valuable perspectives on how automation can free up human resources for more strategic and value-driven endeavours.
Professor Rocky Scopelliti, Futurologist, RockyScopelliti.com
“As we navigate the future of work, automation emerges as a transformative force. Leveraging artificial intelligence and digital technologies, we can streamline myriad tasks, creating efficiency while unburdening our human resources. Within offices, administrative chores like data entry and routine human resources functions, such as payroll and initial recruitment screenings, are ripe for automation. This shift isn’t limited to office environments: retail experiences advanced self-checkout systems, while warehouses are capitalising on robotics for sorting and storage.
“Even the banking sector is witnessing a shift, with digital transactions diminishing the demand for traditional, in-person interactions. Crucially, this isn’t about replacing humans but elevating them. By automating repetitive tasks, we free individuals to focus on higher-value, strategic activities, fostering innovation, creativity, and personal growth. However, it’s essential to approach automation with foresight, ensuring we invest in reskilling our workforce, promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. In doing so, we don’t just increase productivity; we enhance human potential.”
Renée Chaplin, Vice President – Asia Pacific at Constant Contact
“To the average small business owner, a marketing function is just not feasible, so owners or managers often take on the burden of becoming the CEO and CMO in one, trying to create campaigns from scratch despite having no real expertise in what or how to do it.
“But creating marketing campaigns can be semi-automated now, freeing up the owner or manager to do what they do best: running the business. And it’s AI that can provide the automation required to create campaigns from scratch.
“Generative AI toolsets can do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to the creative process, requiring not much more than minor prompts which can be as simple as “draft an email campaign about our 25% off for Cyber Monday deal”. And more advanced AI-driven, marketing-specific solutions, built specifically for SMBs, are available to ramp it up further. Some toolsets can create entire campaigns encompassing email copy, images, complementary SMS campaigns and even social posts with images. The AI learns what their customers are most likely to engage with the more it’s used, providing better recommendations. These are affordable too, and can lessen the burden on the owner or manager significantly.”
Max Howells, Director – ANZ Sales at Nintex
“In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, businesses are constantly seeking ways to streamline operations and enhance productivity. Repetitive tasks have long been a drain on human resources, consuming valuable time and energy that could be better utilised for strategic decision-making and innovation. The solution lies in the power of automation.
“Automation technology, from simple task bots to sophisticated AI-driven systems, can revolutionise the way organisations manage their human resources. Mundane activities such as data entry, payroll processing, performance reviews, employee onboarding, and even user equipment provisioning can be automated, allowing HR professionals to focus on more valuable, high-impact tasks. This not only boosts efficiency but also minimises human errors, ensuring accuracy and compliance.
“By automating repetitive tasks, including the provisioning of user equipment like computers, smartphones, and access credentials, companies can free up human resources to engage in creative problem-solving, employee development, and talent acquisition, ultimately enhancing the organisation’s overall competitiveness. Embracing automation is not just a choice; it’s a necessity in the modern workplace. As the saying goes, “Work smarter, not harder.” And with the right automation tools, businesses can do just that, unlocking the true potential of their human resources.”
Shaun McLagan, VP and General Manager for APJ at DocuSign
“AI and automation are transforming the way we work by freeing us from tedious, mundane tasks and giving us time to focus on more impactful work. By adopting digital tools, businesses can accelerate their workflow and free up workloads for employees.
“For instance, in HR, using e-signatures can expedite both the hiring and onboarding process by eliminating the need for printing, scanning, and mailing paper documents. Creating a digital, efficient, and seamless onboarding process also removes any friction and improves the employee experience.
“While in accounting, manual tasks like chasing clients and scanning hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper, can all be automated, thereby increasing efficiency and delivering more simple, streamlined processes and solutions.
“Additionally, the hospitality industry can use electronic agreements to ease the burden of paper based administrative work, which would lead to shorter document processing turnaround times. Meaning, leaders had more time to focus on high-level business strategy, delivering new solutions in the market, maximising staff retention and giving employees time to try new processes.
“Automation can empower teams to utilise their time more efficiently and help business leaders identify where talent is needed to best fit their organisational needs.”
Mark Fioretto, Area Vice President and General Manager Australia and New Zealand at UiPath
“New AI-powered automation technologies such as UiPath AutoPilot can now automate almost every repetitive workplace task to make all employees from interns to CEOs more productive.
“Through intelligent process information, these tools enable untapped automation and process enhancement opportunities across all areas of business. For example:
All workers can use automation to input complex data between systems and applications. Business users can also automate specific workflows under human supervision. This significantly decreases administrative time in industries such as healthcare, government, manufacturing, and finance.
Business analysts can use natural language to filter, summarise, and create dashboards, as well as uncover more workplace automation opportunities through natural language prompts.
Both professional and citizen developers can create automations, code, and expressions with natural language to speed up workflows.
Automation testers can use automation to accelerate every phase of the testing lifecycle, generate tests from requirement, and surface actionable insights from execution results.
“These capabilities help empower employees to drive processes and avoid labour constraints. Importantly, it enables people to be creative and strategic in their specialisation by removing repetitive manual tasks. In the next few years more AI products will be available to deliver even more value for both workers and organisations.”
Louise Neylan, CEO & Founder at CoFlowx
“Small businesses often face challenges when working with freelancers and contractors due to the hassle of manual tasks ranging from onboarding to payments.
“In today’s challenging market conditions, ensuring project profitability is more critical than ever. However, many businesses are still stuck with time-consuming manual tasks. This is where digital tools like CoFlowx’s budgeting feature come into play, automating these tasks and providing businesses with real-time project profitability with a click, including actual and forecasted budgets, while managing freelancer invoices seamlessly.
“By streamlining these manual processes, you not only maintain control over project budgets but also enhance the experience for your freelancers, increasing the likelihood of retaining top talent. Plus, you’ll free up those valuable hours each week to concentrate on what truly matters – growing your business and boosting revenue.”
Michael Alp, Managing Director ANZ at Cohesity
“Data protection and recovery, which are vital to cyber resilience and business continuity, have undergone a significant evolution from manual to automated processes via modern data security & management technology. Providers of this modern technology have rethought the complex and time consuming manual operations of data protection and recovery, making them more simple to operate and execute to reduce human error, improve quality, and free up human resources to focus on more strategic tasks. The automation of core data backup practices and the application of machine learning models that automate tasks like data management, backup, and the anomaly detection of malicious changes to data, are all benefits that the latest data security & management platforms offer. By automating time consuming activities and applying AI & ML to data management and auditing tasks, the total time demands on human resources to maintain data compliance and protection is greatly reduced, this in turn helps businesses in strengthening their security posture and maintaining cyber resilience. With cyber resilience predicated on being able to continue core business operations despite suffering an adverse cyber event, the automation of data backup and protection is vital to freeing up human resources to be able to strategically respond to cyber incidents.”
Mollie Eckersley, Operations Manager ANZ at BrightHR
“The success of any HR department hinges on its consistency and ability to maintain those daily processes. So, I think it can often come as a surprise as to how much automation can take on the load and transform your people management.
“Starting from the beginning: Hiring to fill open roles in your business, sorting through applicants, and onboarding the perfect candidate. The right HR software can centralise and streamline your recruitment process.
“Next, sharing information and documents that are part of your legal obligations can also be built into your digital HR system to share with the relevant staff automatically. Then there are everyday people management processes like time-tracking, reporting, expense tracking, leave management, rostering, documentation, and absences and underpinning them all is the legal requirement to keep detailed records of the necessary information. Every single one of these processes can be digitalised.
“All these tasks, unautomated, add up to tens of hours a week spent on admin. Software such as BrightHR was built on the understanding that the trick to earning those hours back is to invest in a people management software that manages it all instead of buying standalone tools that don’t integrate to save your time.”
Billy Loizou, APAC Area VP at Amperity
“In the fast-paced world of marketing, where brands and agencies strive for efficiency and consumer satisfaction, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a game-changer. Leveraging AI to drive efficiencies and exceed customer expectations is critical for success. However, there’s a critical prerequisite to ensure its success – a clean data foundation.
“However, it’s not just about efficiency; it’s about compliance and trust. Marketers are now taking on a growing responsibility for data security and privacy, in the face of ever-evolving regulations. That’s why brands and agencies need a central, privacy-safe data asset to fuel their AI tools.
“With a unified, accurate data set, AI tools become more effective, reliable, and trustworthy, enabling revenue growth and liberating internal resources to focus on what truly matters – delivering exceptional customer experiences.
“Clean data isn’t just a foundation; it’s the bedrock of any marketing AI strategy. It ensures that AI-driven decisions are based on accurate, compliant and trusted information. So, before diving into the world of AI-powered marketing, invest in the cleanliness of a brand’s data. It’s the key to unlocking the full potential of AI and staying ahead in this dynamic landscape.”
Brad Drysdale, Field CTO at SnapLogic
“Organisations can realise substantial benefits in automating repetitive tasks and freeing up human resources by establishing a comprehensive integration framework across the entire business.
“By stitching together systems, applications and data so that business processes can be automated, repetitive tasks become autonomous. This is easily achieved by leveraging the best of modern generative AI technology.
“With SnapGPT, the first generative integration solution to use AI and a large language model, human resources are freed up to focus on higher-value tasks. By using generative AI, SnapGPT makes it even easier to automate and eliminate manual pipeline creation. In return, this drives the business forward while automation takes care of the turning of the cogs.”
Abid Ali, Founder & CEO at SpendConsole
“Automating repetitive tasks in the realm of finance and accounts payable (AP) can significantly free up human resources and enhance an enterprise’s overall financial well-being. Here’s a breakdown of the key tasks that can be automated:
Payment Error Reduction: AP automation eliminates manual data entry, reducing the chances of errors and preventing incorrect or duplicate payments.
Invoice Processing and Approval Times: Automation accelerates invoice handling from receipt to data extraction and approval workflows. AI enhances data extraction from various submission methods, enabling quicker payments and early payment discounts.
Financial Clarity: AP automation provides real-time visibility into financial metrics, such as payment performance, commitments, liabilities and the status of supplier invoices and payments. This data empowers informed decision-making.
Compliance and Security: Intelligent AP automation systems incorporate built-in compliance and security measures, ensuring accurate and secure payments. AI serves as a vigilant watchdog, identifying exceptions and minimising fraud risks.
Supplier Collaboration: Smart AI solutions can automate relevant workflows with secure messaging and collaboration with suppliers. This improves supplier relationships.
“By automating these critical AP tasks, businesses can maintain seamless financial operations and enable a digital and seamless user experience, ultimately freeing up valuable human resources for more strategic and growth-focused initiatives.”
Vijay Nayudu, AI Business Lead at NCS
“Gen AI-powered virtual assistants, like the Day 2 AI Ops Assistant by NCS, offer a multifaceted approach to automating routine tasks. These systems, equipped with advanced capabilities like NEXTgpt Generative AI and Ins8.ai, function as a Service Desk Copilot to automate business processes, including incident logging, issue categorisation, root cause identification, and resolution recommendations. They handle routine inquiries, send real-time notifications, and identify training needs, thereby enhancing efficiency and enabling human agents to concentrate on complex tasks that require judgment and expertise.
“In other professional domains, such virtual assistants help Bank Compliance Officers monitor for non-compliance, assist doctors by minimizing administrative tasks, and enable Investigation Officers to focus on case-specific details. This broad application of AI assistants across various fields significantly boosts productivity by reallocating human resources to more critical functions and fostering more meaningful interactions where they matter most.”
Mark John, Founder and CEO at frntlne
“At frntlne, being an edtech start-up in ‘Tik-Tok’ style training video creation, it is critical for us to assess and adopt new technologies to help our clients to train frontline sales teams in the most memorable and effective way.
“We are committed to optimising our product and working processes wherever possible through automation to drive efficiencies.
“Here are a few examples of how we are automating across the business to provide efficiency for our clients and ultimately drive our productivity:
Content: We deploy Zapier integrations to connect various stages of the content creation process.
Image recognition: We use IR/ML tools to inspect products for environment analysis.
Customer Service: We use chatbots for common inquiries and issues.
Scheduling: We use software to manage scheduling, send reminders, and update calendars.
Sales and Marketing: We use automation within our CRM (Salesforce) to automate sales reports, lead nurturing, email campaigns, and customer segmentation.
“Since launching in 2021, we have secured a number of high profile, national and multinational clients including Coles, L’Oreal, P&G, Swisse, Mumm Champagne, Paramount Liquor and Bondi Sands, which have all looked to frntlne’s unique short training videos and interactive content.”
Amos Simantov, Founder & CEO at Way2Vat
“Way2Vat is a global fintech company offering clients a VAT and GST reclaim and compliance solution via its proprietary AI-patented platform. The company helps HR departments avoid dealing with the repetitive and inefficient manual processing of VAT and GST claims.
“Collecting unclaimed VAT is repetitive and laborious. Multiple invoices frequently appear on a single page, requiring data analysts to scan, crop, and upload invoices individually. Scanned images need to be matched to the relevant expense line. As a result, finance departments find themselves leaving VAT unclaimed, at a cost of 4%-10% of their travel and expense budget.
“Way2Vat’s patented AI technology eliminates time-consuming pre-processing work, reducing overall costs while increasing reclaimed VAT by up to 30%. By seamlessly converting images into accurate data, Way2Vat streamlines the processing of VAT and GST reclaim forms for submission to respective tax authorities with minimal human intervention.
“Way2Vat’s solution is continuously improving through learning loop practices, leveraging insights from processing millions of expenses and ensuring maximum reclaim optimization.
“Way2VAT, has recently been granted a new patent for its document image understanding capability with the artificial intelligence technology that powers the world’s first fully automated, end-to-end VAT/GST reclaim platform. This is Way2Vat’s sixth patent.”
Chanelle Le Roux, Owner/Digital Strategist at Ninki Content Marketing
“There are never enough hours in a day, and for the first six years of running my agency, I spent a lot of time doing repetitive, low-value tasks. This year however, I invested in an agency-built CRM to help manage my leads, customers, and automate tasks.
“With a single drag and drop, my leads are nurtured from the moment they book a discovery call, to the day they sign their contract. They receive email reminders, follow-ups, even texts and voice notes from me checking in with them.
“My client onboarding process also comes with an automation series that communicates what we need and when, without me having to write up an email every single time. We also have an email that is sent to my contacts every six months to see how business is going, opening dialogue for potential business.
“I value having humans in my business. Your business is only as good as the humans who run it but as a small business, these automated tasks would ordinarily be done by a BDM.
“The possibilities are endless. Make a list of all the manual/repetitive tasks you and ask yourself the question, can this be automated? And if it can, you should.”