True Automation isn’t just a piece of technology for a customer—it’s about delivering tangible outcomes and ROI.

By Ray Grady, CEO of Conexiom

One of the biggest takeaways from 2020 was the sudden need for and rush toward digital transformation. Businesses have been grappling with corporate governance, reduced overhead, and a global pandemic. Sales order automation, as a result, has emerged as a go-to transformation tool for many. However, there’s an important caveat to note: Not all automation technologies are created equal. That means it’s even more important to choose an automation technology that delivers demonstrable benefits.

Automation within manufacturing and industry certainly isn’t new. Robotic process automation (RPA), optical character recognition (OCR), natural language processing, and workflows are just a few of the technologies available today. What is new, however, is a push for demonstrable proof that the automation at play is working—and accelerating digital transformation. Too often, organizations turn to broad horizontal tools—like RPA or OCR— to solve a specific problem. Because the automation hasn’t been architected to solve that specific problem though, the implementations result in high maintenance costs and user frustration. For example, many automation solutions require manufacturing customers to change their buying behavior, which is easier said than done.

The takeaway: If a tech solution is not fully automated, an organization is not relieving its employees of tedious tasks, and is missing out on the immediate, tangible outcomes of True Automation. Arguably, the best illustration of this is the sales order process itself.

Wholesale distributors and discrete and process manufacturers face an urgent need to create efficiencies, improve productivity, and enhance the customer experience. Yet, most of them are saddled with antiquated, manual sales order processes. Despite the growth of electronic sales transactions and digital orders, nearly half of B2B sales still have to be manually entered, which, inevitably, leads to errors, costly delays, and wasted resources.

These companies know they have issues, but they struggle to find the right technology that effectively addresses the problem. For too long, they’ve been duped by software sales people who promise the world. But, the implementation of their solutions takes forever, the usability isn’t great, and the cost to achieve any benefit is 3x. Sales order automation flips this approach on its head. That’s because True Automation isn’t just a piece of technology for a customer—it’s about delivering tangible outcomes and ROI.

Companies looking to modernize their sales order processes should look for purpose-built, touchless order processing solutions. Fully automated sales order solutions rise above the other technologies available today because they eliminate costly errors, are 100% accurate, integrate with existing systems, and don’t represent a burden to IT. Purpose-built sales order automation can extract the details from a purchase order and transform them—automatically and accurately—into a sales order that is integrated within the existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It also allows for document automation in a way that does not impact the buying behavior of customers, who will only notice faster and more accurate processing of their orders.

Touchless order processing empowers CSRs to provide hands-on customer support and generate more revenue
Touchless order processing empowers CSRs to provide hands-on customer support and generate more revenue.

The ROI on touchless order processing is multifaceted and can be seen immediately. First, customer service representatives (CSRs) who used to spend between two and three hours each work day manually rekeying purchase orders can now redeploy their time and attention to revenue-generating tasks and hands-on customer support. A purpose-built sales order automation solution can process an average touchless order in under two minutes—without CSR support.

Touchless order processing not only removes the need for the CSR touchpoints, it also eliminates potential for human error. This is an important differentiator to purpose-built sales order automation. While semi-automated sales order processing tools exist in the market today, none of those technologies can rival the accuracy of touchless order processing. The difference lies in how effectively and accurately the semi-automated solutions capture the order information. If a solution isn’t 100% accurate, CSRs still must intervene to validate the correct order information has been keyed. A fully automated sales order solution stands above the rest because it recognizes and deciphers incoming order information, verifies its accuracy, and inputs it directly into the business’ and customer’s ERP systems—flawlessly.

With more accurate order fulfillment and a greater focus on the customer experience, the cost of processing orders decreases as customer retention increases, without forcing customers to change their behavior. Finally, a purpose-built sales order automation solution doesn’t require hardware, software licenses, or setup and support fees. Perhaps nowhere is the demonstrable proof that automation is working more visible— or important—than a company’s bottom line.

Any business starting to digitally transform in 2021 must be prudent in its quest to automate. Automation technologies are not created equal. The good news is that distributors and manufacturers looking to modernize their sales order management can rest assured that help—and demonstrable proof of it—is out there for businesses and their customers.

About the Author
Ray Grady is the president and CEO of Conexiom. He brings more than 20 years of experience in scaling high-growth B2B organizations, and leads the company in designing and executing Conexiom’s vision, strategic growth plans and company operations.