What are the 3 benefits of data automation?
Switchboard Jul 5
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Adoption of automatic processes is accelerating, with more and more industries relying on them to drive their everyday operations. For example, a recent study found that companies in both the US and UK are spending 8-13% of their revenue on technologies related to automation.
But what exactly are the benefits over manual operations? Here, we’ll explain the advantages and challenges of automation.
Automation: 3 advantages
- Increased speed and efficiency – automation software can carry out repetitive tasks much faster than humans, drastically increasing the speed of these tasks. The prompt availability of data also means that important decisions can be made sooner – often in real time – and their benefits maximized.
- Fewer mistakes – Mistakes are inevitable when performing work manually, whereas automation platforms will simply repeat tasks exactly, every time, eliminating human error.
- Reduced costs – Completing work in less time and with greater efficiency will intrinsically result in cost savings. Also, the cost of correcting errors (and any resulting issues), is far higher than eliminating them in the first place, so minimizing errors also reduces needless expense.
Automation: 3 challenges
Although data automation has many advantages, it also presents some difficulties without the right tools in place to support the process. Here are the three main issues that companies face:
- High set-up cost – It’s common for decision-makers to balk at the total cost of implementing automation, not least because the initial set-up can be expensive. The cost savings of having automation in place are thought to be between 40-75% overall, but with “payback ranging from several months to several years”, it’s important to choose a solution that delivers an ROI within a few months if possible.
- Solutions may become redundant – As technology and business operations evolve, so too do the processes involved in DataOps, making many existing systems redundant. However, to overcome this problem, components are increasingly designed with the capability to adapt to new situations and use-cases. This is known as ‘flexible’, as opposed to ‘fixed’, automation.
- Fear of employee displacement – In most cases, rather than making long-standing roles superfluous, automation in fact frees teams to focus on more rewarding initiatives. But even when automation does compromise traditional roles, this can be overcome by offering employees the opportunity to re-skill and move into other roles.
Not only can work processes be automated, but the testing of these processes, too. This typically relies on scripted sequences to examine software or equipment. For example, a computer application can be stress-tested to find bugs, or a robotic production line can be checked at each stage of the manufacturing process for defects.
The benefits of automation testing
As with any form of automation, automation testing brings a host of advantages:
- Increased speed and faster feedback – Testing software works faster than humans performing the same tasks manually. This also results in a faster feedback cycle, which enables you to detect issues earlier.
- Improved detection rates – Automation has a much higher quota on the number of tests that can be performed and verified (compared with manual detection), which generates a higher test coverage. More detailed reports can also provide more in-depth information which would be infeasible for human testers to produce.
- Reproducibility and reduced errors – Just as automation eliminates human errors, applying this to testing also introduces a higher degree of reproducibility of results, as well as streamlining the process of narrowing down bugs and other issues.
- Reduced cost – The above factors combined makes testing less expensive.
Automation testing tools
There are a number of different automation testing tools available, so first you’ll need to gain a comprehensive understanding of your company’s requirements. Then ask the following: How easy it will be to create and maintain the scripts for each project, can the tests be performed by non-technical users, and what the test reports will show?
Finally, score automation testing solutions according to your criteria. It may be useful to construct a Pugh Matrix to compare each tool systematically. This will help you to select the most appropriate solution for your needs.
The 4 types of RPA
RPA (Robotic Process Automation) enables the creation, deployment, and management of software robots (or “bots”) which emulate human interactions such as keystrokes and mouse clicks. The goal is to automate these tasks by performing them faster and in a systematic manner, but without the need for complex or expensive integrations between different pieces of software.
In general, there are four types of RPA:
- Data entry – often the most difficult step to automate, and usually involves copying and pasting records between different applications.
- Validation and verification – bots perform audit processes, such as new customer investigations, verifying financial histories, and pulling down regulatory updates.
- System integration – with enterprise M&As, it’s often difficult to get heavily-customized legacy computer systems to talk to one another. System integration bots provide a bridge to connect these systems.
- Scheduled/trigger – bots that deal with periodic tasks, or those that rely on a particular event before they can be executed. For example, performing financial tasks once the year-end closing process begins, or automatically reordering inventory when it falls too low.
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