Keeping pace with always-evolving customer journeys and consumption patterns requires organizations to enable enterprise automation. That is an essential step in the move towards a truly business aligned digital future. However, enterprise automation is evolving too.
Far too often, when the enterprise automation wave first broke, enterprises applied automation to already broken processes, ending up with isolated solutions that did more harm than good, except it did it quicker than you would expect. That’s why enterprise automation considerations, challenges, and expectations today are quite different from what they used to be a few years ago. Today, enterprise automation is not just about a handful of bots and virtual assistants that take over repetitive back-office or mundane tasks. It is about building an enterprise-wide strategy that can aid in making informed decisions, driving competitive edge, optimizing operations, and improving customer experience.
The need for enterprise automation
In a fast-paced digital world, enterprise automation empowers organizations to review their existing channels, processes and apply automation techniques where they can deliver the most value. By replacing manual or repetitive processes with intelligent digital alternatives, enterprise automation can help
Achieve a competitive edge
Streamline and speed up action, improve user productivity, and enhance transparency and accountability.
Employees focus on high-value tasks and avoid spending time on mundane, tedious tasks.
Reduce errors by eliminating manual data entry, adding checkpoints, and simplifying compliance audits.
Enhance the competitive standing by improving quality, efficiency, and time-to-market of products and services
Improve adherence to compliance policies and regulations and be plugged into evolving regulations.
Automation Approach – Simplify, Standardize and Automate
The key question is, how to go about adopting automation in the enterprise. One guiding principle would be to take a commonsense approach through simplification, standardization, and automation across the enterprise.
Such an approach should provide a road map to drive continuous improvements in productivity, speed, quality, or other relevant metrics for each discipline across the technical stack.
Understand the existing process, tasks, and tools for a function. Looks for answers to questions like, what is “custom”? what is “common”? And what is “routine”? Simplification of processes, combine tasks, consolidate tools or techniques Standardization by exploring which pieces of the processes or tools and techniques are common across the stack which could be standardized and made “routine” task Automating of the “routine” Repeat the process
You may also discover through this exercise that automation, in certain scenarios, is unnecessary or cannot be cost justified after it has been simplified.
Key Opportunity Areas
Most enterprises today realize that automation can open doors to a broad range of opportunities and benefits. But they also know that to have a robust enterprise-wide automation strategy in place, they need to stitch together several elements to be able to perform complex, high-value tasks with ease.
Here are 5 key opportunity areas to consider as the dominos line up to create an effective enterprise automation strategy:
1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA): When it comes to enabling enterprise-wide automation, RPA is an obvious first choice for most and with good reason. RPA offers a great way to eliminate repetitive manual tasks done by humans. By using software bots and other virtual means, it frees up employees to focus on higher-value work, thus increasing the speed and efficiency with which they carry out day-to-day tasks. Conventional wisdom is that RPA has the greatest impact on high-volume tasks that follow predictable flows and are required to deliver a finite set of outcomes. Automating such repetitive tasks also saves time and money for the organization eventually, while accelerating time to value, reducing human error, and increase throughput.
Business Process Automation: Although RPA is a great entry point for a larger automation strategy, it’s also important to embrace other business process automation (BPA) approaches as the organizations evolves into an enterprise automation strategy. These range from reimagining business processes, creating intelligent workflows, and integrating data across systems. Often automating such processes requires turning to emerging technologies like iPaaS to build cross-functional workflows that span enterprise tools and systems to empower teams. Data analytics-based technologies like AI, Machine Learning can play a role in delivering insights that help improve outcomes, but more about them later. Such an approach can help modernize legacy systems. As an outcome, BPA improves business efficiency. Several high-impact use-cases exist. For instance, it is possible to modernize supply chains, digitize financial processes, and personalize customer experiences – helping you derive better value from your business operations. Security: The increased volumes of data transfer between systems and networks increase the risk of malicious activity. That’s why, when devising an enterprise automation strategy, it is critical to factor in security. Integrating security early in the automation strategy will reduce the risk. This can also help address the pressure to comply with a gamut of evolving regulatory requirements. Frameworks like DevSecOps can enable organizations to automate all the processes associated with becoming more secure, like running security checks. The aim is to make security a powerful enabler of business outcomes rather than an inconvenient impediment at the wrong time. Test Automation: With custom software and enterprise solutions becoming crucial to enterprise processes, another critical component of any enterprise automation strategy is test automation. Software test automation can help automate the execution of repetitive tests while simplifying the comparison of actual outcomes with predicted outcomes. By automatically running tests and managing data, it can pave the way for continuous testing and continuous delivery while improving the quality (and speed) eventually. Test automation can embed testing best practices, monitor, and detect evolving vulnerabilities through periodic scans, and apply the right protection to mitigate quality concerns at all levels. AI/ML: In the realm of enterprise automation, AI and ML have a huge role to play. When used correctly, they can not only reduce manual effort but also the need for human intervention altogether. These technologies tap the full power of the data available to the enterprise to direct action and deliver outcomes. Capabilities such as Machine Vision and Natural Language Processing can process data and voice to identify attributes, detect patterns, understand the underlying context behind communication, and take actions based on prebuilt models and algorithms – reducing human effort and improving the efficiency of business decisions.
Most organizations assume enterprise automation stops at RPA’s promise to automate repetitive tasks when in reality, it goes far beyond. From BPA to security, test automation to AI/ML – when devising an enterprise automation strategy, it is important to consider all these elements to transform your business model and improve outcomes overall.