The best business applications for automation

Man looking at tablet in modern automated workspace


Finance professionals spend much of their time collecting, tracking, and tracking receipts and invoices — up to 2.7 workdays a month, according to a study by spend management specialist Moss. However, adopting an automated expense management platform could save up to 16 man-hours per 100 transaction-related tasks. So says Sarah Hamarneh, strategy and business development manager at Moss.

Waste disposal company Biffa has triumphed after disposing of its old cash collection system. Emily Munnoch, the company’s finance director for shared services, explains that an AI-powered order-to-cash platform has helped secure and accelerate cash flow – by accelerating bill payments and managing disputes and credit risk. “Our collection success rate has improved by 22.5%, which has reduced overdue debt and improved cash flow for the company,” she says.

And there are other advantages. “All of our credit examiners love using the platform and it has improved client communication as we can now communicate electronically with over 99% of our client base,” she adds.

Elsewhere, Ilija Ugrinic, Commercial Solutions Director at Proactis, an international payment software company, gives two examples. His company saved Screwfix £100,000 a year after they “introduced a standardised, integrated automation solution that streamlined receipt, approval and exception handling”. In addition, Wigan Council, which processes around 90,000 invoices a year, improved invoice processing by 66% with the Proactis solution and achieved an annual saving of £120,000.

Human Resources and Recruitment

Shayne Simpson is Managing Director of TechNET IT Recruitment. He admits he took a risk when he decided on a solution that automates recruiting processes and communication with candidates using human resources software company Bullhorn’s cloud-based platform. But he insists the gamble has paid off.

“In the last six months, we’ve saved 28,609 hours, sent 144,269 automated emails with a read rate of 53%, and sent 45,852 text messages,” says Simpson. “All of this is equivalent to managing 30 full-time consultants done by a robot every month.”

Jason Heilman is Bullhorn’s Senior Vice President of Automation, AI and Talent Experience. He points out that the average recruitment agency currently automates more than 20,000 emails, texts, updates, notes and tasks each year. “Aggregate this equates to an estimated savings of 2.5 million staff hours in 2021 alone, which equates to three hours off per recruiter each day,” he says.

However, Chris Underwood, managing director of the personnel consultancy Adastrum, is ambivalent. “It’s important to question the reliability of AI in delivering on the diversity and inclusion agenda during hiring,” he warns. “Take Amazon, for example, which stopped using AI in HR after realizing that its AI-driven candidate screening discriminates against women.

“Removing the human element from HR will only frustrate and limit the candidate’s corporate experience if the interviews are robotic.”

Law and Compliance

The legal sector has been slow to embrace AI and robotics. “The scope for efficiency gains in legal processes is overwhelming,” said Jonathan White, legal and compliance director at the National Accident Helpline. “While law firms have lagged behind the curve, we are beginning to see significant benefits, particularly in automating processes around the creation of documents with common characteristics such as non-disclosure agreements.” JPMorgan’s contract analysis solution, Coin, can reportedly save 36,000 hours of legal work in can be done in just a few seconds, White explains.

Tom Dunlop, co-founder and CEO of legal tech developer and provider Summize claims to have developed the world’s first integrated contract lifecycle management solution. “The average reported time to manually review a contract is approximately 92 minutes,” he says. “For large organizations that manage an average of 350 contracts per week, speeding up this process makes a huge difference.” Summize’s product, which uses AI and natural language processing, means a contract can be created in under two minutes and the initial test in less than five minutes. “Customers report time savings of 85% or more compared to manual processes,” he adds.

With almost a quarter of a million legal contracts stored in one central system, Elliott Young, Chief Technology Officer at Dell Technologies UK needed such a solution. “The legal team was reading about 800 contracts per quarter, so it would have taken 212 quarters or 53 years to process the repository,” he says. Instead, a proof-of-concept system that combined AI and humans produced the same results in months.


“Automation represents a great opportunity to build on the foundations of our relationships with customers,” said Carlene Jackson, CEO of Brighton-based digital transformation consultancy Cloud9 Insight. “If a customer follows you on social media, it could trigger a private message encouraging them to download a guide from your site.” That message could then generate timely emails with useful content based on page views or links, which they accessed on subsequent visits.

Natalie Cramp is CEO of data science consultancy Profusion and agrees. “By automating even the most basic processes like creating and sending emails, marketing teams can save a lot of time and money. It can also dramatically increase marketing effectiveness while eliminating the potential for human error.”

Of course, mistakes can still creep in. In January 2020, for example, Aviva accidentally called all customers “Michael” in their email base. Cramp continues, “When companies can devote time to more complex automations like data management and algorithms, they can drive highly personalized customer journeys and result in a tremendous impact on the customer experience with tremendously increased sales.”

Nick Mason, co-founder and CEO of Turtl, a content automation platform. He says personalized content can generate up to 10x more subscribers. “You can reduce the time it takes to create sales proposals by 90% when you use the automation engines you already have to create personalized digital documents,” he says.

Customer service

For Virgin Media O2, which has around 47 million customers in the UK, automating its contact center was a strategic imperative – not least because uncoordinated messages to the company’s 7,000 agents created inconsistencies and knowledge gaps.

Last October, it overhauled its processes with Intradiem’s ​​intelligent automation solution. The platform was used to deliver training directly to agents’ desktops; to send notifications to keep call-handling time within preset thresholds and allow them to take punctual breaks and use time off the phone to stay on top of internal communications, explains Faye Herring, Workforce Planning Manager at Virgin Media.

“Within four months of launch, more than 3,500 hours of offline time has been pushed to agent desktops via Intradiem to make productive use of previously wasted available time,” she says. “And it reduced average call-handling time by up to 60 seconds.”

Greg Adams, Dynatrace Regional Vice President for UK & Ireland, provides an equally impressive example. His company’s work enabled UK health and life insurance company Vitality to adopt a proactive maintenance model. “Customer service teams are automatically notified when Vitality members encounter errors in their digital experience so they can contact members and resolve the issue rather than waiting for them to call for help,” says Adams .

He adds that proactive customer support has helped Vitality reduce policy cancellation rates by 65% ​​for members who encounter issues along their digital journey.


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