Business Process Automation Making Inroads With Smaller Businesses, New CompTIA Study Finds
Expense reporting, invoicing, employee reviews among most prevalent automated tasks
Business process automation (BPA), once limited to only the biggest of organizations, is making inroads among smaller companies, according to new research released recently by CompTIA, the leading non-profit association for the IT industry.
Expense reporting, invoicing and employment reviews are among the areas where organizations are using technology to move away from paper and manual processes to digital formats, CompTIA’s Trends in Workforce Automation and Communications study finds.
The widespread availability and relatively moderate-cost of cloud computing, mobile solutions, data analytics and other emergent technologies have made BPA options simpler and more user-friendly, even for small businesses. Three-fourths of small firms (less than 100 employees) surveyed by CompTIA have seen a significant or moderate increase in their use of BPA technology over the next two years
“Technology is no longer functioning in a simple support role, but is increasingly used to meet business objectives and drive differentiation,” said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA. “Companies with aggressive technology adoption mindsets are able to advance to process-level issues and create competitive advantage.”
There is no single product that allows a company to automate a wide range of processes. Rather, it’s a strategic approach that involves three primary components.
- Software used for discrete functions such as invoicing or employee management.
- Connections between applications to start and end workflow and pass work from one stage to another.
- A central repository for data.
In putting these pieces together, companies are increasingly using new trends in technology to build out their automated processes. In the CompTIA study, cloud computing (65 percent of firms), mobile technology (51 percent) and data analytics (45 percent) are the most prevalent.
“These technologies make automation simpler, allow for faster response times and provide platforms for organizing and analyzing digital data,” Robinson said. “As businesses become more familiar with these concepts and others, they’ll continue building automation into their processes and drive focus and energy back into business objectives and innovation.”
CompTIA also asked companies to identify the areas where they hope to see workflow improvements through the use of BPA. The top five:
- Bottlenecks that slow things down (48 percent of companies surveyed)
- Duplication of work (46 percent)
- Poor interaction between departments (39 percent)
- Difficulty locating documents (33 percent)
- Lack of business process visibility (27 percent)
“Technology and trends that generate additional revenue or new business tend to draw the most attention, but improvements to internal operations that reduce costs also contribute to the profitability equation,” Robinson said. “There are many facets of internal operations that can be improved with BPA; and while it may be too complicated to pursue a strategy that addresses all needs, starting with the most significant issues and planning for the future is a smart approach.”
The study was conducted in two parts: an October 2013 online survey of 500 IT and business professionals in the United State involved in IT decision making; and a separate survey of 500 U.S. IT firms.
The new study Trends in Workflow Automation and Communications is the latest example of how CompTIA re-invests resources into the IT channel to help IT businesses expand and grow. The full report is available at no cost to CompTIA members. For more information, visit www.comptia.org.
CompTIA is the voice of the world’s information technology (IT) industry. Its members are the companies at the forefront of innovation; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their investments in technology. CompTIA is dedicated to advancing industry growth through educational programs, market research, networking events, professional certifications and public policy advocacy. For more information, visit http://www.comptia.org/home.aspx.