Technology adoption is often driven by the need for a quick fix solution, in a siloed area of a business or specific function. But this approach is prone to ultimate disappointment, as short-term aims don’t allow the technology to really achieve full potential for the overall business. But Intelligent Automation has changed the game for everyone.
We regularly speak to companies who have started their automation journey with much the same approach. Some have seen successes in optimizing a single process – or maybe a few processes – using traditional Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology, but once the initial ‘achievement high’ starts to decline and utilization rates quickly stagnate – they come to us with the question: What next?
By taking a step back in the conversation to look at overall business productivity, or lack of, and what your business priorities are, you can really change the art of the possible to transform the future of work in your organization. This gives you a strategic transformation plan to work towards, instead of small steps to fixes which have minimal impact on your overall success. By optimizing your business productivity, your people are free to do more to improve business performance.
Where RPA could once thrive on streamlining structured processes, the developments in Artificial Intelligence technology, including Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP), brings an exponential extension to the possible use cases for businesses in the form of Intelligent Automation. This capability enables you to use multi-skilled digital workers that will vastly expand automation possibilities to become an extensive business resource – not just a technology tool.
Definitions of machine learning, Natural Language Processing and much more can be found in this blog post – Our Ultimate guide to all RPA terminology.
This transformative power may seem daunting. But if you apply the same thought process as you would to hiring employees to achieve certain goals, it feels more familiar. Approach this as you would when hiring employees. Except this time, instead of hiring different people with disparate skill sets, you’re looking at a set of digital workers with a mix of competencies and skills who can take the strain on time-intensive tasks across the business to free your staff to drive your business forward.
As ever, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should your digital workforce be. By defining key stages in your automation journey to work towards you can monitor performance, return on investment (ROI) and progress, clearly.
Step 1: Short term gains
Key to project success is to achieve ROI quickly. The first step is about efficiency and productivity gains. There are some initial considerations which will help you to define your quick wins and start of your journey:
- Where is the volume of work in your business?
- Are there one or two processes which you can automate to prove viability?
- Would it be helpful to run a full business case assessment?
By removing the low level mundane and repetitive processes from your people you can make some near-term tactical efficiency gains and re-focus people on value-add activities.
Step 2: Medium term performance
At this stage, you should be striving to extend business efficiencies across the wider business to see some improvement across overall business performance. By using freed-up capacity in your workforce alongside your additional digital resources you can start to enhance customer experience, reduce your business risk and also look to increase revenue with new service and product launches which your business now has the resource to provide. In order to move your tactical efficiencies through to improved business performance you should consider questions such as:
- Have we clearly defined the wider business case for automation?
- Do we need a Center of Excellence (CoE) to manage the expansion of automation across the business?
- Where would having additional resource be the most valuable to the business?
Now, you will be achieving significant productivity gains and you will see a true transformation in employee engagement and satisfaction.
Step 3: Long-term business transformation
This step transforms your organization to an ‘automation first’ business model. By changing the culture of how the business operates and redefining the business model, you have the resource to unlock huge potential. With your increased competitive position, you will be launching new products and services and disrupting existing markets. You can take on those agile digital competitors. This is no longer about what your business can do with the resource it has, it’s about how automation can enable you to expand and scale the business in to new areas, and to achieve more. In order to succeed in this step, your business leaders must all think in ‘automation first’ terms and drive that change in company culture from the top down.
Are you ready to start your transformation journey? Book a workshop with us to shape out your automation business case.