With 2023 just underway, it is time to look at what the next 12 months might hold. It seems clear that some of the trends that emerged during the pandemic will continue to manifest. For example, hybrid working models have become deeply ingrained throughout society and the staffing challenges of recruiting and retaining the right people are unlikely to go away. However, there are other factors that will likely come to the fore in 2023 that may need automation technology investment to fix. These include:
1. A greater need to manage volatility
No one likes surprises. Whilst Ben Franklin suggested nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, businesses will want to automate as many of their processes as possible to help manage volatility in 2023. Automation has already revolutionised almost every industry and has been the catalyst to much of the digital transformation that has occurred over the past decade, providing flexibility, efficiency, and insights.
Data breeds intelligence, and intelligence breeds insight. Managers can use the data available from workforce automation tools to help them manage peaks and troughs better to avoid unexpected resource bottlenecks. Not only that, but workforce automation can help managers spot issues before they even come up by providing insight into who on the team is performing well and who may need some extra coaching or training.
Workforce automation is a key component of the global human resource technology market that Fortune Business Insights projects will reach $39.90 billion by 2029, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5 percent. Compared to legacy manual processes, it is a powerful way to transform the processes of employee scheduling and forecasting, using real time data with little to no human intervention required.
2. More channels than ever.
Whilst businesses are somewhat adept in dealing with customers via traditional channels such as phone, email and text, other channels will become more prevalent in 2023. Communications via video apps or through connected devices such as Alexa will become increasingly normalised next year. Businesses will, therefore, need to rely on technology to monitor and react to volume fluctuations on each channel in real time, balancing targeted resources across call, web, chat, and other channels, some of which need differing response times and skill levels. Expecting humans alone to manage this without intelligent automation technology is a recipe for failure. The alternative provides a better result in which employees are empowered and customers can use their preferred channel of communication and receive reliable responses from agents.
3. More focus on wellbeing.
Taking care of your staff is even more important during this skill shortage. A culture of inflexibility and a strict focus on internal metrics has all too often come at the expense of workers’ needs. There is, finally, a well overdue shift happening where employee wellbeing is being placed at the heart of a business’s operations. There are good reasons for this. When workers are heard and their needs are accommodated, the company can reap the rewards in retention, performance, and brand perception.
Automation technology will be key in automating previously inflexible processes whilst providing intelligent data led nudges that help agents work efficiently in a complex operating environment. This means that companies can offer an unprecedented level of flexibility and support to their staff, while making significant improvements to engagement and wellbeing. By improving engagement between employees and employers – and fostering a culture of support and encouragement – everyone benefits.
4. A greater need to drive efficiencies
A key automation technology is, of course, artificial intelligence (AI). Through its unique ability to process the massive quantities of time-sensitive data generated by a modern business, AI can translate the data into immediate actionable intelligence. This leads to efficiency and engagement skyrocketing without compromising on the customer experience. In turn, this reinforces an organisation’s reputation from the outside.
Efficiency and productivity gains are two of the most-often cited benefits of implementing AI. The technology enables businesses to automate their routine operations and free up the workforce for more critical tasks. This particularly applies to customer support departments where the use of AI to predict outcomes, enable more informed scenario planning and risk assessment, and ensure better targeting, will shift the dial from a one size fits all approach to a much more segmented and tailored experience for both customers and employees.
Earlier this year, research from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) found that 15 percent of UK businesses have already adopted the technology. This is set to rise to 22.7 percent by 2025 and 34.8 percent by 2040. Expenditure on AI is expecting to rise at a CAGR of 12.6 percent during this period, reaching £83.5 billion by 2040.
Currently, just over two-in-three (68 percent) of large companies and a third (34 percent) of medium sized companies have adopted intelligent technologies. Whilst larger companies have been the most likely to adopt the technology, this is likely to change in 2023.
5. An increased reliance on machines.
Since machine learning (ML) rose to significance a decade or so ago, it has rapidly transformed nearly every industry. Businesses would be wise to sharpen their skills and learn what ML has to offer. Whilst technologies in the past only processed static, historical data, ML provides a real-time capability that transforms the gap. It can help organisations become better at predicting flows and responding to them proactively rather than reactively.
The potential improvement to areas such as customer service is enormous. Solutions can leverage “productionising” ML models – by which a model is transformed to a scalable, observable, mission critical, production-ready software solution – at their core.
Whilst it is difficult to predict what areas of intelligent automation technology will prove most popular in 2023, there is no doubt that it will be used to reduce human intervention where relevant, and augment human capability where needed. Whether it is used for automating contact centres operations or self-driving cars, automation technology will continue to reduce waste, save electricity, empower workers, and improve quality, accuracy, and precision whilst making life that little bit easier for all of us. Roll on 2023!