Automation is the future of business. These 10 positions you can replace with tools.
Shared by Travis Johnson Founder, Affixsol
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The global shift towards automation (and the resulting impact on jobs in the U.S.) became a hot-button issue during 2016’s political season. But whether you’re red, blue, or somewhere in between, you can’t argue with statistics that show that many segments of our economy are moving towards automated work:
The Boston Consulting Group, for example, estimates that, “by 2025, the operating cost of a robot that does welding will be less than $2 per hour.”
Even mass transit is affected, with Time’s Katy Steinmetz predicting that self-driving trucks are on the way, stating, “It may not yet be clear what the future of automated transport will look like, but the industry’s innovators want to get there fast.”
Politics aside, automation is a trend that all business owners – big and small – must take seriously, especially as it pertains to future hiring. Before you make your next new hire, consider whether an automated tool could save you money in terms of reduced overhead, liability, salary and benefits, while also minimizing turnover and increasing your operational stability.
1. Marketing Coordinator
There’s marketing automation, and then there’s automated marketing. Marketing automation helps streamline processes and tasks; for example, by triggering specific email marketing messages to be sent upon the completion of predetermined actions.
Automated marketing, on the other hand, provides a much more hands-free approach that’s perfect for startups and small businesses. Take Kit, an AI system that handles tasks like social posting, ad launching, and email campaign mailing. Sure, you may still need to put some work into reviewing the program’s suggestions, but doing so will be less expensive than hiring a full-time marketing coordinator.
2. Payroll Processor
Data gathered by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that “in-house systems are more expensive and less strategic than many buyers may have originally thought. Hidden costs, such as upgrade expenses, IT resources, and non-payroll department time collection activities drive the average system cost per paycheck to $16 and the average annual HRIS cost to approximately $500,000.”
No matter what size your company is, the amount of time spent tracking hours, processing paychecks, and dealing with issues that arise may make an in-house payroll processor seem like a necessity.
3. Customer Service Representative
Unless you’re just starting out or you run limited response hours, one customer service rep is rarely enough. Often, multiple reps are required to handle volume and schedule… at least, until now.
Smart businesses are reducing their need for in-house customer service representatives with chatbots that can handle common issues themselves or pass more difficult issues to a live agent, allowing you to run a skeleton crew for customer service.
Techcrunch contributor Michael Schneider is on board, arguing that, “In the future, “customer service” won’t be something consumers dread having to call, it will be something that builds powerful relationships with consumers. The best marketing is great customer service, and chatbots are a great step forward.”
For small to midsize businesses, a great option utilizing both software and live agents is Affixsol.com. They are a subscription based model with no contracts – cancel anytime offering live real time agents for your business.
4. Social Media Manager
Don’t trust your social posts to an AI bot yet? No worries – you still don’t need to hire a full-time social media manager.
Instead, look to tools like Hootsuite, Buffer and Quuu to keep content rolling into your social channels without hiring extra help. String them together by using Hootsuite to get posts out to all channels fast (and to monitor your social metrics whenever you like), Buffer to schedule curated content, and Quuu to actually curate the content itself.
Once again, for small to midsize businesses the above platforms are great to schedule and publish content but still requires someone’s time to select and modify the content as well as understanding your customer base. Affixsol.com live agents functions both as live customer service reps and content / social media creators. We believe social media and customer service go hand-in-hand.
5. Administrative Assistant
Rather than expanding your staff with a new administrative assistant or overburdening an existing employee with delegated tasks in order to free up your time, use tools like IFTTTand Zapier to manage consistent, minor tasks that are tied to your regular activities.
Content marketing, from blogging to guest posting to article distribution, has become a necessary part of growing a business. Really, there’s enough involved in the process to warrant hiring a content marketer full-time or setting up a comprehensive agency contract – but there’s a simpler, cheaper way to manage these needs as well.
Tools like Coschedule can help you track editorial calendars and streamline both publication and social channel promotions. Others, like Contently, allow you to hire and manage writers within the content marketing platform – potentially enabling you to outsource your entire creative process.
Bypass the need for an in-house bookkeeper who’ll spend hours managing accounts, or even a virtual assistant who’ll track your receipts and do data entry. Instead, use a tool like Shoeboxed to handle all your receipt scanning and tracking – data entry eliminated.
8. Sales Representative
You probably already know how time-intensive it can be to manually vet leads and handle prospect data entry within a traditional CRM. But while it costs an average of $65,800 to hire a sales representative, platforms like Infusionsoft can reduce these costs by automatically labeling hot leads and automating aspects of your SQL/MQL qualification funnel.
9. Inventory/Order Manager
Thanks to today’s tech tools, there’s no need to hire someone just to monitor and fulfill orders that are generated online. Instead, use a tool like Shipstation to automatically sync your e-commerce orders, process your shipping according to preset options, feed tracking data back into your e-commerce platform, and notify customers – all with a few clicks, and without the need for more staff.
Depending on the e-commerce sales channels you use, investing in an inventory management system like Ordoro may also help reduce your staffing requirements by automatically tracking kit and item inventory across Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, and other sales outlets.
10. Training Manager
Training is costly, and typically involves using senior employees to train new hires (at the cost of their time) or bringing in expensive outside experts to train your team. Rather than hiring others or paying more to train your staff, look to solutions like Coursera, Udemy, and Lynda that’ll give your team access to massive online training resources at a fraction of the cost.
Of course, automation tools like these still require some oversight to manage issues that arise. They aren’t complete solutions for replacing staff members, but they can help minimize your overall employee costs. Give them a look before you begin your next new hire search.