In past few years, business process automation vendors have been tasked by business verticals to challenges which caused these vendors to innovate around automation, integration with virtualization and ease of deployment & customization at challenging costs.
This improved the way these businesses cater to their customers, and thus raising the bar for time and cost to market. As a result of these changes, traditional businesses are seeking to transform too in order to not only stay alive but thrive.
Disruptive technologies are causing increased and intelligent digital footprints for enterprises, enabling them innovative ways to impart value to customers. IPA (a set of RPA, BPM and AI tools) has emerged from the application boundaries of back office to facilitate enterprises convert into efficient and adaptive operating selves and deliver seamless experiences for customers and employees.
To embark upon RPA’s journey, it is imperative to do the following:
- Get complete details of the business processes
- Prioritize them with respect to value with business
- Identify top 5 critical businesses processes
- Choose top 3 market leaders as technology vendors
- Identify key automation lead inside the organization (and invest in training and change management)
- Perform Proof of Concept with the critical business processes and compare RoI
- Choose Vendor, Implementation partner and build CoE for a sustainable team
The real power of this technology is that it is does not remain bounded by scope of desktop/UI automation. As it may bring some manpower arbitrage during the man to BoT conversion, but the savings will stop after process will not gain any other improvement which process re-engineering, integration and application of modern technologies like AI/ML/OCR/NLP will bring.
The key to solving process issues resides inside the processes, a detailed view, of business process always leads a better way to modernize and solve current challenges. This journey will endow the organization with Processes redesign and aligned workflows for customer’s experience, digitization of data for personalization and analytics, and automation of non-value adding tasks to achieve jumps in productivity.
The following exhibit shows, how path to intelligent automation can lead to major discoveries of inefficiencies and future pain points. This process can be made iterative with appropriate scope selection. Several Process analysis tools can be used to gain more insight in the current process usage and based on the current business challenges, easily the improvement areas can be identified. Improvement areas which only would provide human arbitrage will lead to pure play RPA implementation. Whereas, other improvement areas will categorize into Form based BPM flows, Chatbot based interactions, AI driven decision making in flows. Some modernization and standardization can also be introduced by enabling integrations with appropriate systems for these flows. Analytics also play a major role in shaping these business processes as heat-map and time-motion analysis would depict.
In operations world, Intelligent Process Automation is viewed as do-it-all solution. CEOs are impressed by its impact on customer and employee; CFOs are impressed by RoIs; Line of business leads can view the clear delivered result; CIOs love the way the digital accelerator experience the enterprise is getting.
One ANZ Telecom leader, after adopting process automation across a portion of their enterprise (Supply Chain automation), assessed a benefit of $3.2 MN AUD is 18 months. A South African Telecom operator reaped benefit of around $60 MN USD after implementing automation in Group Tax and social media query space. A tier 1 Canadian Energy provider saved $5.1 MN USD by implementing automation in their SCM, Finance, Legal, HR, ITSM, GDS, TIS space. And the list goes on….
Automation tends to take away the repetitiveness of jobs and make them more human, making employees have bandwidth to explore ways of making the processes smarter with use of analytics and AI.
For an organization to be successful, digital transformation should consider appropriate talent and change management exercise to ensure skill gaps are addressed and employees understand and embrace the disruption. A leading health care provide in Australia has implemented automation to eliminate the L1 staff in their BPO, as a result the IP of the resources became more useful as L2 staff. They were in perfect position to learn more about solving the next level challenges
Emerging themes around automation:
- Apart from Automation, Analytics is also a key area of concern for business as they are increasingly wanting to make future transaction more “secure” based on available transaction data.
- More involvement of machines and technologies means more influx of data, means more intelligence on consumer pattern to perform intelligent selling and create new evolving products.
- Full blown automation is found to be rare, as the organization convinced with this change fail to look beyond human arbitrage and don’t want to bring “another system” in their already complex application crowd. Most organizations target process pain points through plain RPA than re-engineering the flow through integrations or AI applications. This tactic is a band-aid solution and business units are encouraging their leaders to find long term solutions with long term RoI. It is evident as more processes are re-engineered more value is gained. Increased performance not only gives rise to increased ops efficiency and decision making but also less risk and positive customer experience.
- As organization move from an archaic enterprise to fully automated enterprise, soft skills like decision making, design thinking, creative problem solving in face of business change will become imperative. Thus, change management involving key employee trainings to these areas will not only hold the Intellectual Property inside the organization but also will be the best choice to run those change initiatives.
Despite the view of obvious gains to business, many businesses are tip toeing towards reaching the automation scale, as they are either not sure of technology’s long term returns or accuracy of their own complex and archaic business processes.
It is quite certain though that to have a competitive advantage, an organization striving on digital path must strive to make its processes automated across functions.