Ready to create a digital product? Awesome. Got questions? Of course, you have! But be warned: at icapps, our experience tells us that certain beliefs are clear signs you don’t have a digital product strategy in place. In this series of blog articles, we explore these signs and explain how the right strategy can set you on the path to success. This is the third sign your business has forgotten about its digital product strategy.

Last blog we talked about creating a digital product Roadmap. Today we'll explore automation.

3. You’re convinced digital products will replace your employees

At icapps, possibly more than anything else, we’re impressed by how digital products can automate manual processes. We think it’s cool. But you might not, and we understand that. A lot of people associate automation with robots. While it might be fun to convince you that we’re going to create a squad of humanoid robots to invade your workplace, we want to be clear:

The idea behind automation is not for a robot to take the place of your employee. It’s to take the robot out of your employee.

The processes that are most easily replaced with digital products are the ones that are most repetitive. Imagine you still had someone pressing the button to make the traffic lights change each time. Or a team of switchboard operators to connect every call for you. There are certain tasks that are so repetitive, in most cases, your employees will be happy to see them go.
Automation definitely doesn’t have to mean building robots, but people are still often convinced that it’s only for enormous corporations run by evil bad guys. No. It’s also for small companies run by evil bad guys, and companies of any size run by good guys.

Free your staff with digital Automation

There are certain tasks you have to do, no matter what size your company is. Bookkeeping. Writing and sending emails that let customers know you’ve received, processed, or sent their orders. Creating and sending invoices. Checking your stock levels. Making new orders. Setting reminders that you’ll need to order something at a certain time. All these tasks can be taken over by digital products. While we could focus on any of these, we’d like to draw your attention to something you probably haven’t considered: the questions your staff members answer repeatedly when clients call, email, or appear at the counter.

Why? Because every time they have to respond, it interrupts the other work they’re trying to do. And because answering the same question again and again and again is frustrating. Why wouldn’t you try to find a way to avoid it? The solution could be as simple as a short paragraph on the appropriate page of your website. Or an FAQ page. Expensive? No. Complicated? No. In the spirit of automation, we could also suggest a chatbot. Perfect, especially when there are lots of simple, straightforward questions that are asked repeatedly.

Update your website, create an FAQ page, or unleash a chatbot and it’s fairly likely you’ll still have people contacting your business with questions. You’ll probably still have people asking the question that was constantly being asked before. There will just be far fewer people asking it. And far fewer questions that are frustratingly straightforward. Instead of rolling their eyes, your employees will feel they’re answering questions that take advantage of their expertise and knowledge. They’ll feel useful. And you’ll have employees who feel like their jobs are worth doing.

When the repetitive chores disappear, your employees can devote themselves to tasks that have a creative side to them, that deliver a financial benefit, or that have been on the to-do list for far too long. In short? Tasks that aren’t suitable for automation. Tasks that represent progress and push your business forward. Tasks that make your employees feel like useful people instead of robots.

People, not robots

Are you still worried that digital products will replace your employees? Take a look at Amazon. They use a frightening number of digital products, from their website and e-books to automated emails and—yes—robots that zip about their warehouses. But they still have lots of employees on the books. Netflix has actually been increasing the number of people it employs. Facebook and Instagram still have employees running about. Microsoft does too. And Google. After dismissing half the employees, Elon Musk immediately began hiring at Twitter. Employees are needed no matter how much automation you have. You and your employees have nothing to worry about.

There’s no secret evil agenda here. When you look at creating a digital product, we’ll go over all the benefits it offers you. In many cases, that involves speaking to staff to find out which tasks might be automated or replaced with a digital product, or which tasks they find frustrating because they need to do them again and again. Their input is often critical to building a successful digital product, so they’re going to be aware of exactly what is happening and what to expect.

Do you have repetitive tasks that might benefit from automation? Are you wondering how digital products might help your business? Are you in charge of an enormous corporation in need of an army of robots to help you execute your plans for world domination? We’re here to help in every case. Get in touch for a coffee and a chat.