Workato unveiled a data report focused on the key trends that shaped automation over the past year. The anonymised data reveals major shifts in automation priorities as organizations responded to the pandemic, seeking to boost efficiency, increase sales conversion rates and manage their finances more closely.
There was an increase in how automated organizations were overall, with one-third of enterprises using automated processes in five or more departments during the past year, up from just 15% in the year before the pandemic began.
Top enterprise automation adoption trends
Customer support automations saw the biggest growth of any department. As customer interaction shifted online, the customer support department saw the biggest increase in automation use, up by more than 290% year-over-year. Within customer support, there was a significant increase in the automation of returns and refunds processing which experienced growth of 476% from the period before the pandemic.
Recruitment saw the highest automation growth of any single process at 547%. With much of the world in lockdown, the process of hiring, onboarding and offboarding employees shifted almost entirely online. As part of this, more companies recognised the opportunity to implement automated recruitment processes throughout 2020.
Finance automation is a growing priority. The volume of automated processes across the finance sector increased by 199%. Order-to-cash was the single most commonly automated process across all departments.
Data-pipeline automation surged by 152% as companies became more data driven in response to the disruption around them. These pipelines connect business apps with cloud data warehouses such as Snowflake, BigQuery and Redshift, ensuring that current, accurate data is available for business intelligence use.
Security and compliance automations grew by 171%. With many employees working remotely, enterprises needed to lock down security processes to keep networks and data secure. This, combined with companies increasing their use of cloud and SaaS applications, contributed to this significant growth.
Automation is a team sport between business and IT. IT users accounted for 55% of all the automation workflows created, while business users accounted for 45%. Of those business users, product teams made up 19%, followed closely by operations staff who work in areas like sales ops, marketing ops and finance ops, and who accounted for 18% of workflows created.
Collaboration apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams were used in 20% of all automated workflows. Whether it’s approving an offer letter or an expense report, creating an IT ticket, or sending a notification, chat apps provide a familiar, friendly interface where employees spend increasing amounts of their time – especially when working from home.
“Enterprise automation experienced a rapid surge in adoption this past year — no surprise, as business leaders closely examined where they could be more efficient in their operations and support remote teams amid a global pandemic,” said Carter Busse, CIO at Workato.
“Automation was a key driver in departments we anticipated like IT and finance, but also provided increased capabilities in areas we didn’t expect, such as recruitment and customer success. From boosting employee productivity to creating better customer experiences, automation freed businesses and teams to focus on the priorities that mattered most at an incredibly uncertain time in the market.”