In recent years, new technology has led to a renaissance in automation trends in every industry. However, the impacts of COVID-19 — namely, the increase in remote work and the general disruption to the labor market — have spurred a new wave of innovation.
In its 2021 State of Business Automation report, Zapier found that 88 percent of small and medium-sized businesses say that automation helps them compete with larger corporations. Plus, 65 percent of knowledge workers say their stress levels are lower as a result of automating mundane tasks.
Automation reduces human error, streamlines workflows, and frees up an employee to take on more important tasks. When a company integrates automation solutions, it reduces overall operating costs, translating into significantly larger profits over time. In the post-COVID-19 economy, those cost savings are necessary to navigate the unstable market.
Here are some of the most important process automation trends happening in 2021.
1. Automated meeting reports
Many of us had more online videoconferences in 2020 than in our entire lives. This format didn’t just become the norm for internal team meetings — it also became the way companies interfaced with clients and customers.
Taking notes has long been a necessity for any business meeting. However, popular videoconferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Meet now transcribe meetings live and provide transcripts at the end of the session.
Other platforms, like Stormboard, make it easy to generate post-meeting reports that include screenshots of presentations, summaries, and even actionable items and assigned tasks. Users can edit these reports to create content for different audiences, including internal stakeholders, clients, and customers.
2. Instant collaboration
Before COVID-19, employees had to book conference rooms and find time to connect in person. With everyone working remotely, new automation innovations make it easier to get face time with other team members for productive breakout sessions.
Many platforms offer doodling tools to discuss design issues. Some support collaborative image editing or even making notes on video files. Best of all, after meetings, these notes are easy to export to project management platforms, saving time on translating them into action items or resources.
A relative newcomer in automation trends, hyperautomation, as its name implies, streamlines as many processes as possible. Companies have only recently implemented it, thanks to advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotic process automation.
Hyperautomation gets all your separate automation systems to work together for maximum efficiency. For example, if your business uses robotic equipment, AI and machine learning platforms can analyze that data to find more productive workflows.
These systems can further recommend operational changes to business owners, with a numerical estimate on the impact these recommendations may have on key performance indicators like operating costs and productivity.
4. Voice-activated automation
Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home are more popular than ever. After a year of working remotely, people increasingly want this kind of convenience in their businesses.
Thanks to more integrations with these products as well as whole new platforms, workers can keep their hands free while they call out for assistance from wherever they are in the room. With accurate dictation functionality, users can send emails or Slack messages without a screen in front of them, even as they prepare dinner.
5. More automated workflows
Automation trends are rapidly reducing the number of actions employees need to take to complete a process.
In the past, managers had to manually type out emails to update employees about their work requirements, creating more work. Now, many platforms automatically generate notification emails when workers receive a new assignment or there’s an update to a project they’re working on. In addition, automation platforms can even send reminder emails to employees if they miss a deadline.
Jotform is the ideal solution for companies looking to automate their operations. The platform offers over 10,000 customizable forms and more than 290 table templates — more than any other on the market. You can also leverage Jotform Approvals to create a robust workflow that functions according to conditional logic.
Approval templates offer more than 100 ready-made workflows to automate a wide array of business processes within human resources, accounting, legal, business operations, and marketing. Some templates include pre-built workflows for client onboarding, mileage reimbursement requests, and even rental application reviews. All of these workflows are as flexible and customizable as the forms that comprise them.
Best of all, Jotform integrates seamlessly with hundreds of third-party applications, so you can expand form functionality beyond data collection. For example, you can even use Jotform’s forms to collect payments.
With Jotform, your business doesn’t have to fall behind the trends in automation. You can take advantage of everything technology has to offer, stay on the cutting edge of your industry, and watch your business grow.