Automation in the workplace is when computers perform the types of tasks that would normally require human intervention, thus freeing up the valuable time of living, breathing employees so that they can focus on those matters that truly need them. These days, modern-day automation systems leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to perform everything from speech recognition to translation between languages to tasks that require visual perception and much, much more.

But really, the benefit here is about more than just allowing employees to work “smarter, not harder.” Workplace automation doesn’t just eliminate those manual, repetitive processes — it eliminates the error-prone ones, too. It’s not about replacing your human employees at all — it’s about supporting and empowering them in a way that allows them to do better work on a daily basis, all while getting guaranteed, repeatable results with the right workflow automation solutions by your side.

It’s also something that impacts every department in a business: from human resources to customer support to finance and beyond.

The Human Resources Impact of Automation in the Workplace

According to one recent study, it’s estimated that every time you have to replace a salaried employee, it will cost you the equivalent of between six and nine months of that salary to do so. If you’re replacing an employee who previously made $60,000 a year, for example, it will cost you between $30,000 and $45,000 to fill that position once things like recruiting and training expenses are accounted for.

It is exactly this type of pain point that workplace automation can help solve, as companies have already had a great deal of success with AI-enabled bots that have significantly improved their talent acquisition process. Not only can a bot be trained to track down high-value candidates based on certain keywords in both their resume and in the job description that they’re applying for, but they can also help schedule interviews too. All of this frees up actual human resources employees to spend more time working one-on-one with those candidates, rather than wading through massive volumes of paperwork in an effort to find them in the first place.

Better Technology, Better Customer Service

Customer service has long been one of the major competitive advantages for most businesses, as a massive 42% of consumers say that they would gladly pay more money for a friendly, welcoming experience. Another 52% say that they would pay more for a speedy, efficient customer experience, according to the same source.

This, too, is an area that can be positively impacted by automation in the workplace, as developers estimate that up to 80% of ALL interactions between a brand and a customer can be successfully handled via chatbots. Chatbots leverage the real data that your business is already creating to help customers automatically handle everything from bill payments to troubleshooting to other account issues, all without needing to pick up the phone and give someone a call. In addition to freeing up the time of human customer service agents to focus on those matters that actually require their immediate attention, but it’s also a great way to cut costs that can then be funneled into other areas of the business where they can do the most good, too.

Automation in Finance

Automation can also be a critical tool in terms of financial process management — something that is a leading cause of stress for most businesses, regardless of industry. Businesses can use financial process automation for essential tasks like accounts reconciliation, journal entries, preparing financial statements, and more — all in a way that virtually eliminates the risk of human error (and expensive accounting mistakes).

But automation can also be used to automatically send out invoices to customers after work has been performed, and to periodically check in with those customers to make sure they pay as soon as they’re able to. Every minute that an employee doesn’t have to spend hunting down an invoice is a minute they can focus on more forward-thinking jobs for your business. Likewise, this is also a great way to make sure those invoices are actually paid — thus putting more money in your pocket at the exact same time.

Drive Automation in the Workplace with M-Files

M-Files workflows increase productivity by automating business processes. Common business processes can be streamlined with automated workflows — like contract approvals, controlled content, and invoicing — so teams can work on more value-adding tasks. M-Files automatically delivers a notification when there’s a task that needs to be processed.

M-Files automatically monitors every step of the business process. The version history of each file tracks all workflow steps. Organizations can audit-proof their business while achieving full visibility into important business processes.

The Long-Term Impact of the Automation Revolution

All told, it’s estimated that a massive 45% of ALL activities performed by human employees on a daily basis can actually be automated using technologies that are already readily available. To put that into perspective, that means potentially saving up to $2 trillion in annual wages in the United States alone.

But again — the reason why automation in the workplace can help every type of business isn’t that it will replace your human employees with robots. Instead, it’s about making sure that those human employees have access to the tools they need to do their jobs more effectively than ever before.

By using technology to support your workers, they’re free to do better work and create stronger relationships on a daily basis. The savvy brands that understand this and embrace automation in the workplace soon will be the ones that create a foundation of success that will last them a decade or more moving forward. The ones that don’t — who still think workplace automation is a trend — will soon find themselves left behind by their savvier competitors.