There has been a massive shift in which departments are using automation tools and creating those automations, according to the latest W*rk Automation Index from leading enterprise automation platform, Workato.

The role of IT has shifted from delivering projects to being an enabler of the business, with two-thirds (66%) of organisations having five or more departments using automation and the number of organisations with seven departments automating has nearly tripled since 2019. 

Businesses are striving to become more data-driven and to use their data to make real-time decisions, so there’s a lot of investment in new modern applications in the human resources and finance departments in particular, according to Workato country manager, John Deeb (pictured).

“Workato comes in and helps across a range of processes. For example, finance, HR and IT are all involved in onboarding, yet they manage the process separately, which reduces visibility and transparency, and creates uncertainty of when the person joined the company, if they have access to the equipment required, and if they are in the payroll system,” he told Retailbiz in a recent interview.

“Workato is about breaking down those silos at a process and data level, which cannot only be applied in HR, but also marketing. In retail, the customer relationship management (CRM) system needs to talk to the order and inventory systems that also talk to the finance systems, and links to the backend support. This means you can see all of the tickets a customer has logged in relation to their account,” he added.

The Workato Automation Index has shown a 1,005% increase in automation across the Asia Pacific and Japan retail sector, as online retailers pulled together specialist tools and technologies around personalisation for upselling through the shopping cart experience.

“To do this, you need integration with your marketing automation, your CRM and your finance system, because you want to know who the customer is, how much they’ve spent in the past, and the information across those systems helps drive greater channel understanding,” Deeb said.

“For organisations that have been afraid to look at automation and integration because of the perceived complexity of the tools, Workato simplifies the automation experience by removing the need to hire a team of experts; we can support with more traditional resources that may already exist in their business. People who understand their e commerce engine and finance systems can get involved in building the automations. The history of integration and automation has been complex, but the future is simple.”

Traditionally, developing an automation capability or building out integration takes months, but Workato customers have gone live in a matter of days or weeks because the platform is offered as a service, so there’s no infrastructure required.

“You simply go into the platform and build out your automation. We’ve got over 1,200 connectors to some of the most popular SaaS systems and they’re able to build that automation between the applications that exist in their business today.

“We have a robust and ever-changing product roadmap geared towards the speed of integration and automation. We continue to listen to our customers in the types of applications they want to be able to automate and continue to grow our connection base, where we’ve got a goal to reach 10,000 connectors in our library.”

On a final note, Deeb said: “With supply chain disruptions in retail, the customer experience must be as smooth as possible. We’ve done a lot of automation around support for aspects like returns and refunds. There was 335% growth year-on-year for the price of that particular set of processes, indicating an emphasis on smooth returns refunds for the online experience. Automation can reduce demand on call centres and people supporting online shoppers through that experience.”