The idea of utilising technology to streamline business processes is nothing new. In fact in 1988 Harvard University Professor Shoshana Zuboff stated in her ground breaking book (In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power) that; “Anything that can be automated will be automated”. So how far have we actually come with the practical adoption of this notion and what’s next in this journey?
Whilst there is no doubt that automation can drive efficiency (do more with less), there has also been a love hate relationship between business and technology over the past 2 decades.
Systems designed and sold with more focus on the seller’s needs, than the end user, lack of true connection between systems and commitment by suppliers to solving the underlying needs of the
small business customer. However, we are now seeing a dramatic shift in both applications being developed and their deployment as we fast move beyond the Post-PC era and into the “Connected Internet Based” future.
One area in which technology has been utilised to automate business processes is replacing the (mundane) routine of data entry into your Accounting system. For example the adoption of connected “Cloud’ based systems allows for the importing of your bank transactions via a direct bank feed into your bookkeeping system. Similarly the capturing and importing of expenses and supplier bills is becoming as simple as taking a photo of the receipt or directing the bill to an email address and via OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology, it is then automatically imported into your system with ever improving accuracy and no human interference.
Another example is the tracking of time or travel on jobs that are being tracked via the use
of GPS technology. Even the actual reconciliation of your bank or credit card accounts is set to be completely automated with early examples of “the machine” automating this process with
over 90% accuracy on the first pass and the ability to learn as it goes, effectively eliminating
the need for humans to participate in the data entry and the reconciling process.
So What’s Next?
Well just on the horizon there appears to be another opportunity (threat) depending what your current role is and how you look at it, which is the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Blockchain technologies. All have the potential to completely revolutionise the way we interact and do business in the future. Whilst you may not have heard much about these terms to date – stay tuned – as it is likely that they will very much become part of your future.
As James Wallman said “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet”