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What Does Automation Really Mean?

Posted on: December 19, 2018

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. My favorite episodes were always the ones that focused on touring a production facility or factory to see how things like crayons, toothpaste, or fortune cookies were created. My eyes lit up every time I saw the whirring, automated machines responsible for so much of this work in action.

As time passed and I grew older, my television preferences evolved beyond children’s shows to more educational programs like How It’s Made and Modern Marvels. It was amazing to be able to tour the world’s most impressive manufacturing plants and technology centers from my couch to learn how automation helped deliver everyday products to consumers.

The Misuse & Misconception of Automation

Today, 100% of my media consumption has moved to the Internet. While I still own a television, I couldn’t tell you the last time it did anything beyond sitting on its stand collecting dust. Through YouTube and various Reddit pages, I was given a virtually unlimited catalog of automation technology-focused content—something no amount of TV binging could ever deliver.

While surfing through these sites, I stumbled upon a GIF titled “Automatic Strawberry Picker.” I of course clicked on it, because suddenly nothing seemed more important in life than understanding how automated machinery could complete such a complex task.

As funny as that GIF was to watch, it immediately brought everyday workplace scenarios into my mind.

The Managed Mobility Services (MMS) industry often uses the term “automation” in similar ways. Much like the humorous illusion of the automatic strawberry picker, many MMS partner processes are marketed and sold as automated—even if that’s not exactly true.

For many solutions, automation is a swivel-chair approach that uses people behind the scenes to power software-based data entry portals. And, swivel-chair systems don’t just create slower processes; they also make these activities more expensive to perform and create the potential for a wide variety of human data entry errors.

I know this happens in MMS because I can’t claim 100% innocence here—I’ve worked for companies in the past that have used that exact formula to make capabilities sound more impressive. After all, a centralized global platform capable of managing any type of connected enterprise device needs to be able to connect to wireless carrier procurement systems in every corner of the world.

And, to do so automatically requires a level of advanced technology that not every company has—especially when you consider that international carrier integrations, natural language processing capabilities, and native currency translation can complicate these processes even further.

Tangoe’s Take on Automation

In the last month alone, Tangoe’s service experts received and processed more than 29,000 calls and more than 75,000 MMS-focused client requests. While each of our mobile technology experts—a.k.a. Account Specialists—are trained on and dedicated to specific client accounts to enforce unique company program rules and processes, there are several repetitive Tier 1, 2, and 3 support tasks that take valuable time away from these agents’ primary duties. How many more people could Tangoe help if these responsibilities were automated?

After investing heavily into machine learning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and several other automated innovations, the logical next step was building usable tools to support these advanced ambitions. The first bot Tangoe created was affectionately named Johnny—an automated processor tool that assembles dynamic scripts directly from our software ticketing systems to deliver transactions to third-party companies, partners, and providers.

Today, Johnny helps Tangoe’s support teams create, process, and resolve almost 5,000 daily requests. By automating workflows and doing things like building out wireless carrier scripts with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), this advanced machine streamlines customer efficiency and global mobility management. For example, by using Johnny, one client dropped the average device procurement transaction time from 15 minutes to just three seconds—saving employees and support staff more than 1,000 hours every month!

Here are a few other noteworthy Tangoe automation stats:

  • More than 7,500 daily customer interactions are automatically facilitated by bots
  • More than 2.5 million monthly billing data transformations are automatically performed by bots across 55 different countries
  • More than 1,700 monthly carrier billing reports have been automatically pulled and assembled by bots in 2018

Since 2017, Tangoe has added four more automated MMS bots—Audrey, Mikey, Otto, and Rosie—to the family, further eliminating the potential for human errors and accelerating business processes. However, beyond the obvious time and cost savings these automated assistants create, it also refocuses clients’ employees and our Account Specialists to take on more important, strategic tasks—making both workforces more capable of driving innovation forward at their respective organization.

Fortunately, we’ve traded in our automatic strawberry picking machine for more advanced technologies.

Tangoe Customer Exclusive On-Demand Webinar: A Quick Tour of MOBI

Join Ian Runyon, Tangoe’s Vice President of Product, for a brief demo of the MOBI environment to explore how this software platform helps businesses create competitive advantages, uncover savings opportunities, and streamline mobility management processes.

Access the On-Demand Webinar Here.

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