Organizations where CIOs become sponsors of innovation and proponents of governance, and where the IT organization is involved from the early stages are likely to accrue the full benefit of intelligent automation
A recent UiPath report based on interviews with CIOs in Europe found that organizations are increasingly embracing automation-first strategies to address challenges posed by hybrid work, increasing demands from customers, and new competition. These strategies built on Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AI, and low-code and no-code tools will play a key role in leveling the playing field between incumbents and digital leaders during the next five years.
Interestingly, the report highlights that only those organizations where CIOs become sponsors of innovation and proponents of governance, and where the IT organization is involved from the early stages are likely to accrue the full benefit of intelligent automation. This is not surprising given that in most organizations, CIOs typically own IT automation, and also play a role in driving business automation and automation governance, in addition to management of automation Centre of Excellences (CoE). Whether the objective is to accelerate the digital journey or achieve both transformational and operational excellence, a structured approach to automation that covers all these areas is essential. Any strategic effort to drive an automation-first strategy must encompass the transformation of operational processes, customer experience, and business models.
Transforming Operational Processes
Transforming operational processes includes automating infrastructure and operations processes, as well as integrating service management with other systems, in addition to ensuring security compliance. These measures can not only help reduce costs but also improve compliance with regulations. Our work with Federal Bank is a great example. The bank had a compliance regulatory requirement to maintain UCIC (Unique Customer Identification Code). With RPA, the bank brought down a 7-minute manual process to 1 minute and became more efficient, scalable, error-free, and cost-productive.
Transforming customer experience
Enabling self-service abilities for customers, data democratization for a 360 view, and sharing client insights can help provide a superior experience for customers. For instance, automation helped the Expo Group improve customer satisfaction when they saved employee work hours by 87.23%, which were re-invested into more result-oriented customer interactions.
Transforming Business Models
With automation, we can accelerate the delivery of digital platforms to explore new value propositions and enable platform and infrastructure auto-scaling abilities. This can be performed using predictive AI/ML capabilities, which can help achieve scale and grow revenue from new business models. Paradise Biryani, for example, was struggling with delays and errors in its manual revenue reconciliation process while trying to address the sharp jump in business from online food aggregators. Automation helped speed up the process from days to hours while bringing in 100% accuracy.
Automation Best Practices for CIOs
After having led their organizations through the successful cloud and mobile platform migrations, automation has now emerged as the next big thing for CIOs. Finding effective and fail-safe approaches to automation, and giving due consideration to scaling up and delivering value is essential.
Having a clear understanding of what automation provides: Automation for the sake of automation rarely yields desired results. CIOs today understand that automation is not simply about enhancing existing systems. Instead, any company-wide automation effort provides an excellent opportunity to build consistent and efficient workflows and eliminate redundancies. Adoption of automation is still in the early stages of maturity, with a lot of untapped potentials. Clearly understanding the objectives and implications of any process automation is important.
Building the right support system: An overall steering committee that spans business leaders and IT professionals can be valuable to set directives, prioritize the backlog of work, and identify use cases for automation. Stakeholders must understand the scope of an automation project and its possible impact on their function. IT has an especially crucial role to play in providing governance and putting in place the necessary guardrails to enable different functional groups to execute on automation.
A diverse team including citizen developers, subject matter experts, as well as automation experts in a bottom-up approach, will help the organisation discover opportunities to automate. Their recommendations will be focused on important tasks that may not appear on process maps and simple departmental processes. This will provide the automation team with an understanding of the ground reality in order to ensure that they are scaling efficiently.
Understanding Bottlenecks: Firstly, while it’s tempting to jump headlong into automating a business process, that could potentially result in exponential gains, it is important to be cognizant of bottlenecks too. For example, it is important to have the support of the C-suite and ensure they are aligned with the automation roadmap. Ensuring we have the right skill sets required for the project is also important. It is always efficient to ‘build’ skillsets in existing team members that ‘seek’ the same externally. Low-code and no-code applications, like their name, are easy to learn and can be used by any employee.
CIOs have a crucial role to play in using automation effectively to accelerate the reinvention of business, boost productivity, and cope with increased customer demands in the new reality of hybrid work. This will thereby help transform their organization through digital leadership in the competitive world of business.
By Anil Bhasin
Anil Bhasin, Managing Director & Vice President, UiPath India and South Asia.