How Tech and Automation Can Make Your Business Eco-Friendly
Technology has long changed the way we do business. The most recent scenario that truly highlighted its impact was the COVID-19 pandemic when many businesses thrived by pivoting online. It’s also through technology that they’ve applied work-from-home or hybrid work setups to keep their operations afloat.
Automation is just one of the many aspects of tech that has bolstered many businesses to success. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2024, 69% of daily management tasks will be entirely automated. This comes as no surprise as automation significantly improves productivity and efficiency for businesses no matter the size.
One thing that’s often overlooked is the environmental benefits that tech and automation tools provide businesses. For entrepreneurs, digitalization offers more than an alternative to paper. It promises sustainability while ensuring businesses do their part for the environment as much as possible.
While profit is a company’s main driver, going green is also something that businesses should consider if they want to survive long term. In this resource, learn about the importance of going eco-friendly, how tech and automation can help achieve that, and what types of tools a business should apply.
Let’s Talk Numbers: How Businesses Are Responding to the Global Environmental Crisis
It’s no news that the planet is in crisis. Many experts have warned that inaction may lead to more environmental challenges in the future, including mass migration, rising hunger levels, and the downfall of global financial markets.
Because of this, many business owners have re-evaluated the purpose of a corporation. Aside from maximizing profits, a company is also expected to protect the environment through sustainable practices.
One environmental concern that involves many businesses is waste production and pollution. Factories produce massive volumes of waste that cause harm to the environment. When not properly managed, this can pollute the air, soil, and water and destroy countless ecosystems, not to mention result in serious health concerns.
So is it worth switching to eco-friendly business practices? Most probably, yes. A McKinsey & Co. survey showed that 66% of customers—75% of which are millennials—consider sustainability when deciding on a purchase.
Consumers are now smarter than ever, and they see themselves as primary catalysts of change. If given the choice, they’ll associate with a company that aligns with their values and ethics.
Over 4,000 global companies and businesses have set science-based targets leading to a net-zero economy. And according to an Accenture study, about one-third of Europe’s largest companies have promised to reach net zero by 2050.
With such initiatives, it’s becoming more imperative for businesses big and small to apply their own green efforts, not only to save the environment but also to sustain their business in the long run.
Business Process Automation: What It Is and Its Different Types
Business process automation is one of the many eco-friendly practices business owners can get started with. Automation technology helps businesses become more efficient and streamlined in their operations, limiting waste and carbon emissions.
For starters, automation uses tools that take manual labor out of daily business processes—think marketing, data entry, human resources, and accounting. Almost every aspect of a business can now be automated using the right software.
Here are some of the most common business automation types and how companies can apply them in their own operations.
Marketing and Sales
Many marketers rely on automation tools to make their lives easier. From collecting qualified leads to tracking ad performance, these tools help teams build and execute campaigns and measure their success. Automation also makes it easier for marketers to filter leads that are ripe for sales engagement before handing them over to the sales team.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
Accounting software makes it easier and quicker to work on billing, collections, accounts payable, accounts receivable, credit card applications, and a whole lot more. Without this technology, the amount of time and effort it would take to collate this data would be insurmountable.
Human Resources Automation
A human resources management system (HRMS) is a common tool that many HR departments use to systematize their work. This system automates the hiring process, from posting a job ad to officially onboarding an employee. Aside from this, it helps streamline payroll, employee data, and activity, and it helps with administering benefits.
3 Ways Technology and Automation Benefits Businesses and the Environment
Going Paperless Is Easier
Before the era of websites and software, businesses were fully dependent on paper to record and manage their records. Thanks to technology, the use of paper has drastically reduced, but there’s still a long way to go in eliminating it entirely.
Despite technological advancements, the average employee still produces over 10,000 sheets of paper a year. Aside from its impact on the environment, businesses have to pay for that paper, not to mention other supplementary equipment like printers, printer ink, and file cabinets. This still does not include the costs for hiring someone to maintain their archives.
It’s safe to say paper drains productivity. Employees waste a considerable amount of time scanning through files and printing and reprinting them when collaborating with other teams. This process is not only inefficient, but it also adds up to the piling of waste in our landfills.
But with automation tools, businesses can create a centralized database that everyone in the company can access and work on. This minimizes the time it takes to search for documents and communicate changes with other teams. Plus, automated systems help businesses save on other office supplies, such as ink, paper clips, and folders.
Reduce Carbon Emissions
Shipping and transportation greatly contribute to a company’s carbon footprint, especially those in the manufacturing industry. In fact, transportation accounted for 27% of the total US greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, which is the largest share of emissions. This comes from burning fossil fuels in cars, trucks, trains, ships, and planes.
In a nutshell, greenhouse gasses trap heat and cause global warming. Because of this, it’s essential for businesses to optimize their transport and shipping procedures with the use of technology.
Automation greatly helps streamline the planning stages of logistics, allowing businesses to plan more efficient routes, shipping schedules, and other warehouse functions. Ultimately, automation software helps reduce emissions from cargo trucks and ships.
Efficient, Cost-Saving Energy Usage
While technology runs on electricity, there are a lot of ways it helps businesses save on electricity costs in the long run. Since remote working started to boom in 2019, many companies are rethinking the traditional ways of working…and for good reason. Since employees are working in the comforts of their homes, businesses are able to reduce their energy bills with fewer people working in the office.
Teams are still able to communicate with each other through video-conferencing technology, like Zoom, Skype, or Teams. Meanwhile, collaboration is not hampered because of cloud-based automation tools, such as Trello, Asana, Google Drive, and Office365.
Aside from these, many small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have also adapted smart metering technology. This allows them to track their business’s energy usage and, with the help of sensors, only use electricity when needed. In fact, occupancy sensors alone can reduce energy use from lighting by 30%.
Overall, the use of technology and automation helps businesses reduce waste, eliminate pollution, and save energy, which benefits not only the environment but also businesses.
How Automation Improves Business Productivity
Aside from its hugely positive impact on the environment, automation also benefits all aspects of a company. These benefits include the following:
10 Examples of Business Automation to Consider
Now that we’ve laid out the importance of business sustainability and how technology helps achieve that, it’s time entrepreneurs consider ways to automate their businesses. Below are some of the most common processes to get started:
1. Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
SOPs are essential for a successful business. Startups and SMEs need to create detailed outlines and instructions on how to complete processes within their business. Otherwise, employees scramble to perform tasks and delegate them to others. SOPs also help make onboarding new employees much easier as the team grows. The faster a new hire is onboarded, the more work can be done.
2. Centralized database
For startups, the first few customers can still be easy to manage. But this isn’t the case when a company grows, and more customers come rushing in. Business owners will need to utilize a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to centralize customer data. This helps automate updates on a customer’s account and improves the business’s relationships with its contacts.
3. Lead-scoring system
The quality of leads is more important than quantity. Because of this, companies need a lead-scoring system to determine which leads are more viable than others—meaning, who are more likely to purchase. With lead-scoring automation, sales teams can save time and effort in engaging with low-qualified prospects.
4. Automated email campaigns
An email marketing tool is essential in getting sales and retaining customers. In fact, email gets a whopping return of $36 for every $1 spent. However, creating and sending emails and tracking email performance can be time-consuming when done manually. This is where automation comes into play. Many email marketing tools allow businesses to personalize emails in bulk, perform A/B tests, and send targeted emails to segmented groups.
5. Workshop software
For repair workshops, getting an all-in-one workshop software tool is a smart business investment as it automates their entire workflow and eliminates unnecessary tasks. This allows business owners and employees to direct their attention to more important aspects of the business, such as providing quality service to customers.
6. Task management software
Gone are the days when reminders were scribbled on post-its and placed on top of computers. Today, teams work more harmoniously using task management software. This helps create, delegate, and keep track of tasks. They also help show the team’s progress and remedy any delays accordingly.
7. Customer service automation
Customer satisfaction is crucial in running a business, which is why this is one of the most important aspects of business that needs automation. Automating customer service does not mean removing human interactions. Rather, it helps save time and ensures efficiency when answering customer concerns.
8. Sales process automation
Sales automation reduces friction in the sales process and ultimately increases conversion rates. With helpful technology, sales teams can focus on more sales-ready leads, better collaborate with marketing teams, and stay on top of a hectic pipeline.
9. Social media scheduling
Managing social media posts can be time-consuming. On top of creating engaging posts, marketers need to be strategic when scheduling them. However, the work gets easier with the right social media-scheduling software, allowing them to create content in advance and plan them for publishing on specific channels.
10. Centralized internal communication
Communication within the company is something business owners should not overlook. Centralized internal communications get the message across clearly and promptly. Some aspects that can benefit from automation include meetings, reporting dashboards, performance reviews, sharing onboarding materials, and collecting feedback.
Get on the Journey to Sustainability
Businesses and corporations have a moral responsibility to protect the environment as they carry out their operations. Technological advancements, such as AI and automation, make it easier to do so. Entrepreneurs are expected to do their part by applying the right technology that will not only improve their business as a whole but also save the planet as much as they can.
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