Sustainability through automation

Maverick has identified several important themes recurring in conversations about sustainability relating to the tools at our disposal to inform decision making and to reposition supply chains within a sustainable framework. In this post we provide a view on workflow automation and how it can assist organisations in their transition to sustainable digital economies.

Towards a digital economy

“Globally, almost half the activities employees perform—which account for nearly USD 16 trillion in wages—could potentially be automated using existing proven technologies” McKinsey 2019 

Automation is creating unprecedented opportunities for academic publishers to realize dramatically greater value in their production and distribution supply chains. If implemented optimally, automation can benefit organisations and help them achieve a competitive advantage. Equipping them with the necessary automation technologies, such as data discovery, auto-machine learning, and deep learning workflows enabling organisations to successfully meet market demands and reduce cost pressures whilst building resilient operations.

According to ServiceNow’s State of Work 2017 report, highly automated companies are six times more likely to achieve 15% revenue growth or more, versus those with low automation. Further, as reported in the Salesforce Survey 2021 “91% of full-time workers say automation saves them time and offers better work/life balance.”  This integration of human behaviours into digital realities can, as reported in Forbes, potentially save a business $4m annually. The business benefits seem clear; however, organisations must be strategic in how they scale automation across the enterprise, with the deployment of integrated technology capabilities to ensure an end-to-end process. As Bill Gates stated, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Automation projects therefore need to be planned with care to avoid magnifying existing inefficiencies or, even worse, introducing new ones. For instance, ensure that the team understands the goals your organisation is trying to achieve with the automation, including sustainable targets. Document the current as-is state and identify the business process to be replaced by automation.  Focus on flagging repetitive tasks and redundant and duplicative processes that can be easily replaced with an automated task. Gather feedback from those working within the current process, exploring bottlenecks, pain points and non-documented processes. Common themes we hear when facilitating these types of activities is frustration with low value repetitive tasks, lack of transparency within workflows, poor integration with other systems and poor functionality. This information should ultimately feed into the workflow design and provide an approach that is founded in self-evaluation and cross-departmental collaboration.

Academic publishers are using automation technologies to alter the interaction with authors and editors. By deploying these tools upstream within submission workflows they are able to reduce the burden on peer reviewers, editors, and authors, and to make their processes more transparent and inclusive. They are removing repetitive and low-value manual tasks with automation — freeing up individuals to work in creative and high-value tasks, such as generating new customer facing products and services. Enhancing the scholarly record with nuanced and intelligent auto tagging for discovery and advanced data interrogation features helps ensure consistency in output. Publishers need to invest in automation to realise its full benefit, including cost reduction, increased productivity, better consumer experience, and improved quality, speed, and flexibility.

Automation offers publishers one solution to solving the dichotomy of increasing volume, speed, and quality whilst driving down costs, allowing organisations of all sizes the opportunity to scale no matter how big their workforce. By using technologies such as auto-machine learning, natural language processing, data discovery, explainable AI and others, publishers can automate larger parts of the ecosystem and deliver the value stream that their “prosumers” demand.

Maverick Publishing Specialists can help you grow your business and transition to sustainable digital economies through workflow automation. To schedule a free consultation, contact us.

By Rebecca Moakes, Maverick Head of EMEA Business Development

Rebecca Moakes is an accomplished senior publishing professional specialising in product and platform development. With extensive experience of working for and with publishers, she offers a combination of strategic, commercial, and technical insights to deliver measurable business goals.