Over the past 12 months, I’ve attended several business technology events including OPEX San Diego, Forrester Digital Transformation Chicago, RISE Hong Kong and IBM THINK San Francisco. I have begun to recognize a certain look in the eye of attendees at all those events, almost pleading, “help me understand what is happening.”
When a digital transformational technology or solution emerges, such as digital business automation, most people hit their favorite search engine for analyst reports and white papers, blog posts from trusted thought leaders and case studies, but it’s often not enough to separate the signal from the noise. It’s often difficult to sift through all the supplier marketing hype and cut to the chase to find real value – not to mention all the negative press on digital transformation failures.
Welcome to the world of Digital Transformation hyperbole.
The opportunities and threats of automation are easy to find in today’s headlines. Some stories make it sound scary; some like a silver bullet. Themes range from massive job loss to magical front-end customer experiences and back-end operational cost reductions. But the question remains: will automation liberate workers to focus on higher value work or take their jobs?
What is increasingly clear is people are attending business technology events hoping to get a holistic view of what’s real and what’s possible. They want to separate the FUD from the hope and contribute to the discussion taking place in every organization in the world.
For example, let’s explore Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and its role in Digital Transformation.
One clear event trend is the push toward robotics and robotic automation has everyone scared about job protection. Employees who designate significant time to manual processes might fear automation due to the threat of losing their personal identity. It is important automation is introduced as something to help those individuals, not to replace their job completely. There is surely a place for RPA, but one needs to be clear on its limitations. Like many business initiatives, RPA is often promoted to boost return on investment or reduce costs. RPA can be leveraged to capture and interpret applications, manipulate data, or trigger responses with digital systems.
For mundane, manual and repetitive work, RPA is a perfect fit. For example, replacing/assisting call center agents. An automated online chat system can reduce the time taken to resolve queries, alleviating waiting times to help ensure a positive customer experience.
RPA is also a great entry point to reduce your systems integrator footprint; where today you may have SI developers as low-cost labor, simply copy/cutting and pasting data. Prone to human error, this is a perfect fit for RPA. One Tier One banking CIO I met in Hong Kong stated that they spend over $100M USD in SI services and they were looking to cut that by more than half with a $1M investment in automation technology. Talk about an ROI!
Automation also has transcendent implications for businesses across the globe, which can free up the time (of humans) to focus on core competencies that directly contribute to the bottom line.
Before you begin an automation journey, heed this advice shared by many experts:
- Set a clear objective. Your main objective is to run RPA at scale. If your expectations are out of alignment, RPA can have undesired consequences. It’s OK to approach RPA with an optimistic mindset, but crucial to keep your eyes open. Approach RPA with caution, and make sure you don’t run before you can walk! The objective of your RPA project should be clearly communicated from the beginning, to ensure everyone is working towards common goals. If your staff understands the technical and business benefits, you can more easily manage milestones on the route to a successful outcome. Set and manage clear expectations and ensure employee attitudes are in alignment.
- Completely understand the process you intend to automate. If you only have half-knowledge of something, how do you expect to program a computer to do it? You should focus on identifying, evaluating and documenting a process before validating and testing it. By this time, you can attempt automation with increased confidence. Your RPA should be actively used, refined and updated, and continuously updated across its lifespan. This will boost the proficiency of your efforts.
- Focus on the outcomes. Prioritize the importance of productivity gains (efficiency plus effectiveness), while implementing end-to-end metrics to communicate progress. When results improve through automation, staff should be recognized for their efforts, compensated accordingly with an incentive-based reward system.
It can seem as if we’re forever catching up with technology.
Even if your organization is digitally mature, it’s important to realize there is always room to grow. Unlocking your true technological prowess will help you deliver excellence across multiple fields, improving your organizational capabilities.
Salient Process is here to help you “free the humans” no matter what your level of digital maturity, and beyond just RPA, to not only free workers for more added value work, but to enable organizational higher-level thinking (READ: Enabling Higher Level Thinking). We offer Operational Process Excellence implementation and enablement services as well as business automation accelerators which can help someone in IT, operations or line of business understand what’s real and what’s possible for digital business automation today. Salient supports a set of tools to include: process modeling, robotic process automation, intelligent content management, business automation workflow, decision management, business automation insights, low code/no code automation, machine learning and more (SEE: Our Story).
But where to begin?
Easy. We don’t get caught up in the hyperbole as we help our customers focus on the fundamentals - and that’s your process. And your process is our passion.
Digital Business Automation capabilities now streamline enterprise-wide functions that not too long ago seemed impossible to automate. But you can’t just perform automation without making sure your processes can function well with automation. After all, making a bad process execute faster only gets you to a bad result that much sooner. Salient Process can help with both Process and Automation. Our combination of services, methodologies and software in concert with understanding your processes, can help you do much more, and more accurately, with fewer resources required. Whether it be rules, process, task automation or accelerators to help your delivery go faster and deliver more ROI, Salient has the answer.
In the words of Mikhail Baryshnikov “fundamentals are the building blocks of fun”. Let’s Make Digital Transformation and Process Fun Again.