Smart Automation is Changing the Way We Do Business

In today’s business climate, “people skills” have never been more valued. From those who answer the phones through those who selling the products and all the way up to senior management, demand for people who are good with people has never been so high.

The reason? Automation. Smart machines or programs are taking many mundane administrative tasks off the shoulders of human workers. While automation still has room to improve, many believe it is better and more reliable than error-prone and distractible humans for certain office functions.

In his book, A Whole New Mind, business author Dan Pink predicted that automation would empower people with a set of qualities he called “high concept and high touch.” High concept is the ability to recognize patterns and create narratives; high touch is the ability to empathize and spark joy.

That prediction from 2005 never looked more current. It is those exact qualities – high concept and high touch – that even the smartest automation machines can’t duplicate.

As Todd Wasserman write in Forbes, the situation gives humans a chance to focus their activities on the things they do best.

“If SMBs [small to medium size businesses] use automation intelligently, they will free up human workers to perform “high-touch” tasks,” he wrote. “Employees are better off interfacing with customers than performing rote tasks like expense tracking, scheduling meetings and transcribing recorded interviews or meetings.  This is true, also for large enterprise companies.

The Wave of the Future…Has Already Arrived

According to Wasserman’s article, the three main reasons companies increase automation are 1. More time for other work 2. Improving customer service and 3. Boosting innovation.

All three of those reasons fall into the high concept/high touch formulation. They all require something uniquely human – something that AI and smart automation technology has not succeeded in replicating to this point.

However, technology has reached the point of being able to at least assist in any of those areas. For example, there are programs that help people write speeches and even writing out what words to use to close a sale.  Customer service often begin with “chatbots” getting the basic information from a customer and often handling a basic problem. When the situation demands more human interaction, the bot has already collected the necessary information, allowing the human representative to cut right to finding a solution.

Best of all, smart technology gets better with more data, so as more cases are handled and more information recorded, the technology’s performance improves.

Why Smart Programs are Better for Tracking Expenses

The case of VAT returns for enterprise companies and SBMs is a case in point of why automation is working, and serves as a guide for how to make it work for all involved.

As it currently stands, many companies are eligible to significant funds in VAT refunds from spending on business trips abroad. While every country is different, virtually all of them offer VAT rebates on many costs associated with conference attendance. But more than $50 million in claimable VAT remains sitting on the table because the forms are often too onerous to fill out.

In addition, the process of collecting and organizing the information has traditionally been loaded with opportunities for accounting errors. Keeping track of all the receipts, which come in many shapes, sizes, and languages, was a challenge of its own. Connecting the receipt with actual spending was nearly impossible several months after the trip.

The solution, provided by Way2VAT, was to eliminate the need to keep all the physical receipts or to try to read them later. Instead, the worker could scan the receipt directly into the system and WAY2VAT would handle the rest.

The hidden benefit of the solution is that it also provides a detailed, accurate, and timely expense report that can be used by travel planners to calculate the real cost of travel and where the company might be overpaying.

Why leave the task in the hands of the accounts staff when they could be using the time they save to analyze the data and propose improvements? Automation takes out much of the stress and friction in many tasks to allow for better human interaction

The rest is up to us, and those who develop high touch skills will be in great demand in the marketplace.

Make sure your company gets all of the VAT returns it deserves. For the complete story on recovering VAT in EU countries, download our eBook.

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