Understanding Automation in Business
In today’s business environment, automation is more important than ever. In addition to actual robots on assembly lines, we’ve got chatbots handling customer service issues and AI programs generating original content. Automation can save significant amounts of time and money, but you have to be able to identify the business processes that will actually benefit from it.
The human element is often important in retail, but some types of business automation can smooth over challenges and help create better customer experiences. How does business automation really work, and can it help merchants deal with problems like chargeback management?
More than two out of three businesses have started to embrace automation in some capacity, and that figure can only keep increasing as obsolete processes get replaced by newer, more efficient innovations.
Automation comes in many different forms, and the potential applications are endless. For any given business, there are sure to be numerous processes that could be substantially improved through automation. There may also be other processes that could be automated, but don’t need to be, because manual processes are still producing better outcomes.
Before you start trying to figure out which of your processes would benefit from automation, it helps to understand the different types of business automation and how they work.
What Is Business Automation?
Automation is the use of technological solutions to perform repetitive, predictable tasks with minimal support from a human operator. There are endless applications for automation in business, including manufacturing, marketing, accounts payable, and customer service.
Business automation solutions have gotten much more widespread and accessible in recent years due to advances in cloud computing technology and artificial intelligence.
Automation software can handle more complicated tasks than ever, and API integration makes it easy for businesses to implement in most cases.
One ready-at-hand example of a business process revolutionized by automation is fraud detection. Instead of taking hours to manually review every marginally suspicious transaction for subtle signs of fraud, merchants can use automated anti-fraud tools to filter out high risk transactions. AI and machine learning can make these tools even more effective, allowing them to adapt their detection algorithms in response to the smallest changes in fraudsters’ tactics.
The Different Types of Business Automation
- AI Automation: Any automation solution that uses AI and/or machine learning falls under this category. This rapidly expanding market grew more than 21% over the past year, making notable advances in multiple areas, such as image and video generation.
- Business Process Automation: A broad category that encompasses any use of technology to automate repetitive, multi-step business operations. These solutions typically use API integration to work with the data in existing systems.
- Marketing Automation: Many merchants and B2B companies use marketing automation to deliver their message to the right audience segments, capture lead information, and provide support to their sales teams.
- Robotic Process Automation: This describes the automation of repetitive software actions, such as data entry.
- SFTP Automation: This type of automation utilizes secure file transfer protocols to handle large-scale transfers of data.
- Workflow Automation: Solutions in this category are designed to organize, streamline, and aid in the execution of interrelated tasks.
How Is Business Automation Used at the Enterprise Level?
The ultimate reason and goal for business automation is to save time and money. At the enterprise level, it may become necessary to use automation to handle vast amounts of incoming data and user interactions, but it must always be deployed conscientiously.
For enterprise-scale businesses, data flows up and downstream according to the business processes in place. The core enterprise platforms may be required to exchange information with various systems as user journeys are initiated, business rules are triggered, and decisions need to be made.
Automation can be key to improving efficiency in scenarios like these:
- You’re using legacy systems that are too expensive to replace or upgrade
- Processes depend on external systems that you have no control over
- There isn’t enough time to change an inefficient process or system before a deadline
- Data from multiple independent upstream systems needs to be federated
Management of both the incoming data stream and the outgoing responses can be automated. User tasks can also be streamlined with RPA where appropriate. When large-volume batches of data need to be exchanged, SFTP integration can be a significant time-saver.
Far from rendering the human touch obsolete, effective automation optimizes resources and makes it easier for employees to focus on other productive activities. Every job has tasks that need to get done, but don’t really engage the employee’s core skill set. These tasks are often the best candidates for business automation.
Chargeback Automation: How Much is Too Much?
Chargebacks are often the visible manifestation of complex underlying problems, and dealing with them effectively requires a hands-on approach. Some chargeback management tasks can be safely automated, but these should be chosen carefully.
The right chargeback automation solution will be able to send the appropriate response to chargeback alerts or notifications that meet predefined criteria.
For example, if you get repeated friendly fraud chargebacks related to merchandise delivery, you could set up an automated response that submits a chargeback representment (with proof of delivery) whenever you receive one of those disputes.
Indirectly, customer service automation can help reduce dispute rates. By providing an immediate, 24/7 response to customer inquiries, you can assure customers that you haven’t forgotten them or run off with their money, and they don’t yet need to take their complaints to their bank.
It’s important to remember that chargeback problems such as friendly fraud have a human intelligence behind them, and remain actively engaged in finding ways to game the dispute process. Automation can simplify tasks, but it isn’t enough to build a functional defensive strategy around.
Automation is going to find its way into more and more places as the years go by, and business owners will need to be smart and strategic about when to switch over from old manual ways to new automated solutions.
The ideal approach for any project, including chargeback management, is a balanced blend of mind and machine. In its proper wheelhouse, business automation can make your processes more efficient, saving you time and money, and—most importantly—enabling you to redeploy people skills at a higher level, where the most meaningful improvements can be realized.
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