There’s no doubt that automation has dramatically changed how a business operates around the world. Streamlining manual tasks through event-based triggers has made workers vastly more efficient – allowing them to do more with less, improve experiences and increase profit margins.
But investments in automation are not always equal. While task-based automation provides impressive short-term gains in productivity, they often stop short of enabling true business transformation. Enabling agility in today’s highly competitive, always-on world requires organizations to move beyond simple task automation to implement intelligent automation across processes and business systems to achieve true strategic value.
According to a new research paper, delivered by Knowledge Capital Partners (KCP) in partnership with Blue Prism, only 15% of businesses have made the necessary long-term investments in robotic process automation (RPA) to enable the level of intelligent automation necessary to gain current and future business adaptiveness and resilience. These innovators have been rewarded with an ROI up to 200% in the first 18 months after investment while passing on the benefits to shareholders, customers and employees. Most importantly, they have built an automation backbone primed for future growth and innovations.
It’s clear that the remaining 85% need to up their investment in RPA to gain more than just the short-term benefits of automation. In 2018, McKinsey looked at the potential for implementing RPA. Operations centers that took on RPA found their costs reduced by 30% to 60% and saw an increase in delivery quality.
Move intelligent automation from efficiency to strategic value.
Intelligent automation works by combining robotic process automation (RPA) with artificial intelligence (AI) powered by its core components machine learning (ML), computer vision and natural language processing (NLP). AI gives digital workers the eyes, ears, voices and brains they need for complex tasks, while RPA executes the automation across complex workflows between departments, business systems, partners and customers. While task-based automation improves execution, incorporating intelligent automation and RPA into the wider business strategy improves efficacy, helps enhance the experience and further supports transforming your business.
Here are three ways organizations can move intelligent automation from efficiency to strategic value:
Create a culture of automation leveraging strategy and scale.
Investment and implementation of automation is not enough on its own. In order to create a true culture of automation, leaders need to fully embrace this technology and reimagine their operating models with a digital-first approach in order to truly achieve company-wide buy-in. Automation should not revolve around just cost efficiency or be centered around individual tasks; it needs to be implemented strategically with the thinking of a digital native trying to infiltrate your market and steal business from you.
Focus on people and processes, not just technology.
The KCP survey found most failures of digital transformation projects are a result of managerial and organizational challenges rather than technical challenges. Enterprises need to take the time to really understand workflows and how intelligent automation can drive value across the business. Then they can put the people and processes in place to execute on these intelligent automation goals. This is the time to automate responsibly. The automation tools at our disposal are more and will continue to be more powerful. It may be a good idea to create an intelligent automation task force that is driven by executives and people on the front lines to get varied perspectives. You’ll need credible, influential champions who can balance short-term gains with long-term vision. You’ll want to plan on the future human needs and capabilities that only your people can provide your organization as you increase the use of digital labor.
Focus on processes, not tasks.
Digital transformation is not just about efficiency- it’s about effectiveness. It is important to tie intelligent automation goals to business objectives by looking at applications that can improve outcomes. Strive to enhance experiences for both internal users and customers. Improve stickiness and loyalty. Enable new business models and sales strategies such as subscription or self-service.
The past several decades have seen companies of all sizes and scopes use technology to streamline tasks and make employees more efficient. It’s time to take the next step by incorporating intelligent automation into your wider business strategy. Focusing on those key value chains within your organization that reimagined could be a game-changer. This will allow you to focus on improving efficacy and truly transforming your business whilst doing so in a responsible way.