A recent Forrester Research report, Predictions 2018: Automation Alters The Global Workforce, predicts that companies that master automation won\u2019t just succeed\u2014they will dominate their industries.\nWhile automation may sound vaguely science fiction-y, almost every workplace in 2018 already benefits from automation. In its simplest form, \u201caway from the office\u201d messages on email accounts are a form of automation. Other companies have taken automation a step further by embracing virtual agents, customer self-service solutions, and forms of next-gen artificial intelligence (AI) technology.\nHowever, automation\u2019s true potential is just getting off the ground. According to a recent McKinsey study, 50% of current work activities can be automated by adapting already-existing technologies. \nHere are five ways automation can free up resources to build more innovative, savvy, and adaptable organization.\n\n Improve Employee Productivity, Morale, and Retention\n\nWhile some fear that automation will eliminate jobs, the consequences of automation are counter-intuitive: automation actually removes the tedious parts of work and frees up often stretched-thin employees for more meaningful and creative work. When employees \u00a0spend more time on the interesting and rewarding aspects of their jobs, productivity and satisfaction rises and\u2014by extension\u2014so does employee retention.\nFor instance, Argentina-based credit firm oMelhorTrat.com uses AI-enabled automation to streamline their hiring process and improve employee productivity. Using an internal system, the company sorts through resumes submitted through their website and third-parties to identify potential candidates. \nPreviously, the company\u2019s HR team spent two-thirds of their time manually sorting and reading through resumes, says Cristian Rennella, the company\u2019s HR director and co-founder. Now, that time can be used more productively by interviewing and focusing on only the very best candidates.\n\u201cWe are sincerely surprised with the results and very happy, because AI will help all HR employees with boring, manual, and repetitive tasks that will be performed automatically,\u201d added Rennella.\n\n Streamline Chaotic Processes and Workflows\n\nAutomation can strengthen organizations by streamlining inefficient processes and workflows. Instead of getting lost in chaotic processes, organizations and workers can stay focused on the data and work that matters.\nHumberto Farias, co-founder of Concepta, explains how automation can benefit data-driven teams, such as marketers, by increasing the amount of data they have to work with and freeing up time for developing advanced marketing strategies. The impact of automation, Farias says, gives marketers \u201cimproved segmentation, better lead scoring, probability-based customer mapping, reduced churn, and more impactful campaigns.\u201d\nVerizon B2B analyst RaShea Drake, echoes this point: \u201cInstead of spending hours in an Excel sheet, an employee can put their critical thinking to use in figuring out the impact of the data, rather than compiling the data themselves.\u201d \n\n Increase Transparency \n\nAutomated reporting and status updates can make the difference between an organization that knows exactly where it\u2019s at with project budgets and status updates, versus one that\u2019s left in the dark. \n\u201cWhen automated reports are made, especially when it comes to finance, there is less room to cover up mistakes if anyone in upper management can run a report with the click of a button,\u201d Drake notes. \u201cIncreased transparency leads to better business decisions and less room for unethical\/illegal behavior.\u201d\n\n Enhance Customer Service and Delivery\n\nBy freeing up time previously spent on monotonous tasks, workers can dedicate more of their time, effort, and skills on the evolving needs of customers.\nLeibel Sternback, CTO of Fusion Capital Management, explains how automation has allowed his organization to shift resources from servicing requests to developing innovative \u00a0solutions to address unsolved problems. \u201cMoving forward, these automation and processes will allow us to provide even greater services to our clients \u2013 services that we could not provide otherwise,\u201d he says, \u201csuch as using AI to predict which requests will get rejected before they\u2019re even submitted, or by using the information we are gathering to help us change our process to reduce time, costs, and frustrations.\u201d\n\n Drive Exponential Growth\n\nWhen it comes to scaling your organization, automation can be the key to faster delivery. Jesse Nieminen, an entrepreneur and co-founder of start-up Viima, said automation has been a prerequisite for exponential growth at his organization.\n\u201cAs soon as we\u2019ve been able to figure out ways of working that deliver results, we\u2019re looking to automate them as fast as we can,\u201d said Nieminen. \u201cFor example, by automating our quality assurance and testing work, we\u2019ve been able to increase our quality and development velocity simultaneously. The same (albeit with different metrics) goes for marketing, customer service, and many other areas.\u201d\n Automating systems and processes has also enabled Nieminen\u2019s organization to focus on hiring quality talent. \u201cWe are able to keep our hiring standards very high, which in the long term is crucial for maintaining the kind of company culture we\u2019re looking for,\u201d he says \u201cThis way we\u2019ve been able to punch way above the weight one would expect from a company as small as ourselves. Automation can be a hugely important strategic asset for almost any company, but unfortunately, very few business leaders understand its full potential.\u201d\nFor more information, read the Smartsheet report: Automation in the Workplace.