How automation is powering work transformation: five examples

Robert Frati, chief sales and success officer at Slack, provides five examples of how automation is transforming work for the better

Work should be about the creative, collaborative, sometimes messy but often enjoyable tasks that are part of our job. Too often, though, we find our days are spent working on a never-ending list of manual and mundane tasks. This slows us down, and expending our energy on these low-value activities can lead to mistakes when we do make it to the tasks that really matter.

New automations and integrations mean it doesn’t need to be like this. We can work smarter. Processes can become slicker and more accurate, while giving people back the time to work on what they do best and what they love. IT teams are aware, and are leading the charge into automation, with it set to become the biggest focus for tech spending in 2022.

As we look to the year ahead and beyond, it’s time to embrace the potential of work automation. Here are just a handful of examples, from different departments at some of the world’s most innovative organisations, which can provide some New Year inspiration for smoother processes and better habits at work.

Keeping customers safe on public transport during the pandemic

Few organisations offer public transport on the scale of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) New York City Transit (NYCT), the largest public transportation agency in North America, which funnels 5.5 million people daily through its network.

When COVID-19 hit, though, the city’s transit needs changed fast, and the agency had to adapt rapidly. NYCT responded by refocusing work processes around rider safety.

Having introduced channel-based messaging in 2017, the agency was able to coordinate its 50,000 employees around this mission at speed. And, by building a custom workflow directly into the channel-based messaging platform, they automated reporting on daily priorities. Even as things were changing fast, these automations helped ensure everyone had visibility into the top priorities every day and the space to focus on their individual tasks to keep the city moving safely.

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Streamlining access to care services

Oscar Health, the direct-to-consumer health insurance company, provides a dedicated Concierge team of customer service representatives, or Care Guides for every 8,000-10,000 of its members. These guides are supported by teams of clinical experts, case managers, nurses and social workers at a localised level. As Sebastian Burzacchi, vice-president of service operations, explains, “We are focused on creating the easiest, simplest, best service engagements possible.”

The Concierge team has standardised requests for expert support. An automated workflow prompts Care Guides to fill out a templated form with key data such as the policy involved and the locale of the person receiving care. Not only has this saved back-and-forth between different members of the team but it’s also streamlined access to information, helping supervisors solve issues quickly.

Onboarding new team members and moving to remote-first overnight

The London-listed global investment firm Man Group has been serving clients since 1783. However, that legacy hasn’t stopped the business from embracing change, agility, and automation.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Man Group shifted its 1,400-member workforce across 19 offices to remote work. During this rapid transition, Man Group went all-in on channel-based messaging, which they knew would be key to enabling teams to securely connect, coordinate, and collaborate remotely. Meanwhile, automatically having team members added to important default communication channels streamlined those all-important company wide announcements during the transition to ensure nobody was left out of the loop.

As remote work continued, the company also invested in building custom automated workflows for routine processes. Whether that’s onboarding new users into the business or fielding common IT requests, automations played an important part in making Man Group’s shift to working from home a success, and will continue, alongside channel-based messaging, to help teammates at Man Group work together long after the pandemic ends.

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Providing teams rapidly with the tools they need

Hearst Magazines, the publisher behind iconic titles from Esquire to Marie Claire, is a titan of the magazine world, with teams and publications across the world. Their DevOps team, however, found themselves facing a tedious conundrum. Whenever one of Hearst’s employees requested access to a new tool, for example GitHub or Jira, they had to go through countless questions again and again. Username? Email? Level of access required?

This was a workflow crying out for automation. Today, requests are made and approved entirely within a channel-based messaging app. When a workflow is kicked off requesting access to a new tool, a form is instantly served and answers are then delivered directly to a DevOps team member via the messaging app, and approvals, still within that same app, can be managed in one click.

On the face of it, this might sound simple, but this single workflow saved the DevOps team 52 hours in a year — vital time that can now be put into vetting new tools and finding other ways to streamline operations.

Shipping code to customers faster

Vodafone’s web engineering team, which can handle over a hundred direct releases to production each month, provides one final example of automation’s potential in the world of DevOps.

When dealing with its high-volume of releases, Vodafone’s team automates routine tasks to get a handle on developer’s preferred deployment dates and release requests. A form is used to collect info on a release, which is then automatically shared in a public channel, giving both release and development teams an instant birds-eye view of what’s happening and when. This transparent oversight streamline’s everyone’s ability to plan, ultimately meaning code moves from an individual through to production, and finally the end customer, faster.

Next time you find yourself working on a repetitive, manual task thinking that your time could be better spent, you’re probably right. From making the admin that comes with onboarding new teammates seamless, to keeping everyone aligned around daily priorities without unnecessary meetings, it’s time your business explored how automations can make work simpler, more pleasant and more productive for everyone.

Written by Robert Frati, chief sales and success officer at Slack

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