Tell an enterprise CIO that he needs a digital automation strategy and you’ll be stating the obvious. He already understands how doing so will create enhanced experiences and greater value for the organization’s clients.
But one thing isn’t always clear: You can’t gain those results merely by adding automation to current processes and systems. You must first be aware of the maturity of your automation strategy. This will allow you to assess potential areas for growth, and pinpoint the pros and cons of larger-scale automation initiatives.
How do you measure maturity? Begin by looking at the most common three stages, which are the Task-oriented stage, when manual processes are automated; the Team/department-oriented phase, when automation connects teams or departments; and the End-to-end phase, which extends automation across departments and throughout the whole company.
Armed with knowledge about your present automation conditions, you can then successfully move forward with your automation strategy. For starters, consider how you can connect applications to processes. Instead of focusing on simple tasks, think how these can grow into automated workflows, with applications and systems inter-connected. By incrementally adding connected systems, you can develop increasingly complex workflows.
Of course, with a larger amount of connected processes, you will require a platform that can properly manage this newfound complexity. The good news is that many vendors now offer business process automation (BPA) suites that include integration libraries and automation features.
Another consideration related to automation growth is how much, or how little, you use RPA (Robotic Process Automation). And from our perspective you should employ it at a minimum. That’s because RPA, which is designed to imitate human behavior navigating an application’s UI, is extremely fragile and doesn’t have the ability to scale across an entire organization.
For example, if an app’s UI changes, there’s a good chance the RPA can fall apart and become useless. If you have multiple RPAs that work with one another, a mere change in one of the UIs can bring everything to a grinding halt. And if that’s not enough, it can be challenging to locate the origin of the RPA trouble, which goes against the entire point of automation and reducing workloads.
Artificial Intelligence is also a powerful tool for enhancing your automation strategy. One simple but effective way AI can help is to fold disparate data into the automation process. For instance, AI can recognize characters on a paper document using optical character recognition (OCR), and then convert messy information into digital forms.
By leveraging an increasing amount of data and tools, AI is able to be more integrated into unsupervised automated processes for fundamental decisions. As a result, you can shift employees to work on more important, mission-critical matters.
On a related thought, since automation strategies have become more advanced, people are inherently less involved in the process. Of course, humans are still required to make sure automation works as intended.
The key is to allow your people to engage with machines in an efficient manner. Sophisticated automation strategies let people manage automation without having to move from their current work setting or application.
Like anything to do with technology, automation strategies will constantly evolve. For long-term success, the trick is to balance processes that enable machines and employees to effectively work together toward enterprise goals.