Have you ever faced doing the same old task and thought, there ought to be an app for that?
There’s a simple rule when it comes to automating work: if it’s a repetitive, time-consuming but necessary task, or one that involves processing lots of data, there should be a tech solution.
If it’s a task that requires strategic thinking, empathy or creativity, it’s a job that should remain firmly in human hands. Chips and processors should be the brawn that does the heavy lifting in the new world of work.
The benefits of automating the right kind of work can be measured in time, money, productivity, and accountability. And in freeing up time, automation creates space to think in teams’ schedules: precious time for the kind of expansive and innovative thinking that really adds value to an organisation or project.
In the ‘digital divide’, Fender is winning with automation
That’s precisely what Fender, the iconic musical instrument manufacturer and distributor, found when it automated marketing processes. Fender switched to Workfront’s enterprise work management solution to automate repetitive tasks, such as planning, content approval, delivery and archiving. Here’s how it worked out:
- Centralised request queue: Project requests and messages from multiple stakeholders are now channelled through the new single system into an efficient request queue. It has given Fender the power to efficiently manage 150 active projects, instead of a time-consuming pattern of wading through email threads and scheduling meetings to check whether projects are on track.
- Streamlined marketing requests: Standardised and simplified marketing requests mean there’s little need for meetings to clarify the project brief. That’s saved the creative team two hours a day.
- All communication in one place: Retaining every marketing project communication in a single system means that the creative team saves a third of the time it used to spend in meetings chasing and checking.
- Visibility into all facets of work: Any team member has a complete overview of each project from creation to review, and approval to archiving. Dashboards enable them to better manage their time and meet project deadlines. That’s given the team detailed project visibility, improving productivity, and accountability.
- Quick and easy access to assets: Reduced time to retrieve assets when they are needed also means the team can make faster progress and less rework with digital proofing. The Fender team has improved control over creative assets and on-demand delivery.
Fender’s move to automate marketing processes puts it in the winning 50% of a digital divide in business. Our 2020 ‘State of Work’ report found an even split between companies seeking ways to systematise and automate work, and those relying on a patchwork of different technologies to get tasks done.
The ‘State of Work’ report also found:
- Seven in 10 (71%) workers wish they had one centralised place to see all work across the company – but fewer than a third (31%) had that type of solution in place.
- 91% said they craved better technology in the workplace – with 84% warning that businesses today are missing opportunities by not moving to more modern solutions.
- One consequence of failing to seize the opportunity to automate is that only 43% of knowledge workers’ time is spent on the job they were hired to do.
History tells us clearly which of these has a greater chance at succeeding: those like Fender with better tools win time and time again.
How to start?
The idea of automating workflows and processes may seem daunting; but small changes can build confidence for more structural changes to how work gets done.
For example, setting up email routing rules that will automatically filter messages by sender or content into folders can save a team time and energy. Messages are sorted and prioritised as they come in without the need to skim read or drag and drop. It might only save a moment or two, but those are minutes over the course of a week that can be better spent on other tasks.
Once small tasks have been successfully automated, there’s an opportunity to think about larger scale changes. There is a better way to work than manually juggling spreadsheets, email, and sitting through status meetings. What the age of automation mandates is a work management solution that connects all work across the enterprise.
Show the opportunity
If there’s fear that automation may take away jobs, the challenge for CMOs is to show team members how it will make day-to-day work easier and free up time for more meaningful tasks. Very few jobs are at risk of being fully automated; and marketing departments are fuelled by human creativity.
Future-facing marketing leaders will ensure their team is trained to acquire new skill sets to ensure they can continue to make a positive contribution, while technology improves productivity without increasing headcount.
Fender showed how automation can rock – the question is, when will you switch on?
Jada Balster is vice-president of marketing EMEA at Workfront.