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Using data to minimize manual operations

Bilde av Alf Inge Johansen
by Alf Inge Johansen

30. Jun 2021, 4 minutes reading time

Using data to minimize manual operations

Are your employees spending inordinate time on tasks that could be automated? Could their brains and hands be better spent creating actual value? Here is why and how you can use data to minimize manual operations.

Manual operations, whether it is crunching numbers, typing up reports or answering customer support queries, are not considered particularly rewarding tasks. Neither are they good for productivity – an efficient organization is one where everyone does what they do best. And while some employees certainly are comparatively great at these manual operations, humans as a species simply fall short. 

 

Opportunity costs

This is why every organization should work towards minimizing the time spent on these tasks. Every minute an employee spends doing something machines or software could have done, is a minute they could have spent creating value through business development, creative tasks or working on client relations.

In some cases manual operations might be automated entirely, and in others data can be leveraged to drastically increase efficiency. Let us look at a few examples of how both can be done.

 

Organizing resources

A client in home health care wanted to maximize time spent with patients. This means reducing the time spent driving. After installing GPS trackers in all of their vehicles, data could be harvested and organized, allowing them to analyze patterns and driving routes. Were they actually running this optimally? Do they have resources that are not fully utilized? 

The same strategy can and has been applied by other skilled workers who want to increase efficiency, not by reducing their amount of manual labor, but by organizing it better.

 

When the bots handle it

Another resource-demanding type of labor is the span of tasks between casework and customer support. Here we already see the advent of chatbots, which are very promising in theory, but still lacking in practice. But the problem – and promise – of chatbots lies not in their technology, but in their data. Whether a chatbot leaves you thoroughly annoyed or surprisingly satisfied, is almost always a matter of the quantity and quality of data they have been fed.

Once chatbots know virtually everything there is to know about their customer base and «employers», human labor spent on manual casework and support can be drastically reduced. 

 

A public service done right

In Norway, Altinn has become a pristine example of the power of data. Altinn is a government-run technical platform and internet portal for digital dialogue between businesses, private individuals and public agencies. 

Through a significant digital transformation effort, and with the knowledge that combining data from several sources is key, Altinn has become more automated and more effective than ever. Tax returns are pre-completed, and through integrations with banks and government bodies, many applications are processed near-instantaneously.

We also see the same shift in the accounting business, where data and automation is increasingly used to reduce time spent merely crunching numbers, allowing accountants to act more as advisors

 

The power of the right platform

It is also interesting, and important, to note that many «time thieves» are only known to the people experiencing them. This is why we are always advocating for implementing a data platform that is accessible to everyone – and easy to use. 

Having data available at their fingertips inspires employees to be curious about discovering new possibilities, and empowering them to act upon them. This is a defining characteristic of a data-driven company, and an incredibly powerful way of minimizing inefficiencies.

Be careful, however, not to let data handling in itself become a time thief. If you really are ambitious about digital transformation, consider a data platform that automates the collection and sorting of data from various sources.

Lastly: Nothing is more time-consuming than trying to make decisions on a shaky foundation. With a shared, single truth – visualized through a smart data platform – everyone has access to the same, trusted data. And when there are hard facts on the table, plotting the course not only takes less time, it is more likely to take you in the right direction.

How to make more strategic corporate decisions based on data

Alf Inge Johansen

Alf Inge Johansen

Senior Sales Executive Alf Inge has more than 30 years of experience in the IT industry. Alf Inge is known for his good mood and commitment to everything he does. He has both technical and mercantile experience with the use of IT in a number of industries. In BI Builders, he tries to convince customers that they should automate as much work as possible and make better use of data in reporting and analysis.

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