Is digital transformation in business only about new application development and distribution? How is automation changing this paradigm?
Forrester’s new report shows that Automation fabric is now the “new playground for digital transformation.” Effectively, automation is changing the paradigm about the transformation of only being limited to application development and distribution or professionals with specialized programming skills. The report talks about how business users and non-coders are now building bespoke workflows and customized functionalities using low-code tools and robotic process automation (RPA).
Quoting the report, “Automated fabrics interweave a variety of technologies to reduce the complexity of underlying applications and process landscapes, enable them to work, and empower their workers.”
The Forrester report brings forth an important question for business leaders. What is the role of automation in digital transformation? Let us look at a few business cases where workflow automation (in place of manual processes) is becoming necessary.
For exceptional customer experience
A Hubspot survey reveals that 80% of the customers stop engaging with a brand after an unpleasant service experience, while more than 78% demand consistent brand engagement and interactions.
How does automation help various brands create a consistent customer experience (CX)? On its part, automation technologies help in facilitating improved business communication, addressing customer concerns, and boosting customer retention.
Consider the example of Singapore Personal Access (Singpass), an online digital identity system for the citizens of Singapore. Citizens opening a trading account on this platform no longer need to fill in any personal data. As the necessary user information is already linked to the system, Singpass users just need to log in to their trading account for a seamless onboarding experience.
To enhance employee productivity
Companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable compared to others. Automation in business processes gives employees more time to innovate, identify problems and solutions, share their insights, and execute critical decisions.
Explaining the importance of automation for employee productivity, Purushothama Shenoy, chief technology officer at IBM Singapore, says that “it’s really about employee productivity and enabling your employees to tap their core expertise rather than performing mundane, low-value, repetitive tasks.”
Can an automation fabric improve productivity? Yes, one such example is that of the BMW’s Spartanburg factory where robots were deployed to help workers in fitting automobile doors. The transition led to a 50% increase in productivity without any job losses, while the previous machine operators were promoted to the role of robot programmers.
To lower operational costs
Despite their high upfront costs, business process management (or BPM) has been rated as a core capability of business automation. A RedHat survey revealed that 34% of organizations adopted BPM technology to improve operational efficiency. An additional 15% look at BPM to lower their operational costs.
A recent Gartner report also concludes that organizations can lower operational costs by as much as 30% by combining hyper-automation technologies with redesigned operational processes. On its part, nearly 80% of BPM users believe this automation technology is playing a critical role in the digital transformation of their business.
By eliminating human intervention in complex business processes, organizations can not only accelerate process-related workflows but also improve their overall accuracy.
To gain insights from data
Can automation facilitate data analytics in business organizations? With data teams bogged down with manual and repetitive work such as invoice processing, data cleaning, or creating expense reports, data analytics efforts are often restricted or hampered. How can streamlining the analytics processes with automation deliver better insights?
Purushothama Shenoy answers by saying that “automation will play a crucial role in digital transformation” and that businesses can “come up with insights in a much more sophisticated way using data, AI, and automation.”
When required, automated data analytics can offer business benefits by:
- Facilitating a data-driven decision-making process
- Designing a useful feedback mechanism
- Improving business processes while adjusting inputs or parameters in real-time
Additionally, the Forrester report also outlines recommendations on how organizations can successfully implement an automation fabric. Let us discuss that in the next section.
How can organizations automate their business processes?
On their part, CEOs and business executives need to embrace and promote automation as a “strategic move”. Instead of keeping these technologies in their own “digital silos,” automation initiatives must be integrated using skillsets like RPA. At the same time, organizations must encourage and empower business users to lead the change.
Organizations can reap the best results by automating the following business domains:
Manual and repetitive tasks
A McKinsey report says that over one-third of tasks across business processes can be automated. Typically, manual tasks require human intervention in the form of, for instance, HR executives entering employee data into their database, or support executives manually sending out business emails to customers. This is time-consuming, tedious, and prone to human error.
For example, Gazprom, the Russian gas company, used robotic process automation (RPA) to automate the verification of meter readings. It helped the company save 10 hours of the week per employee.
The marketing automation industry is expected to be worth more than $25 billion by 2023. 49% of companies currently use automation as part of their marketing strategy, while this percentage is 55% for B2B companies.
Organizations can track and monitor customers’ online behaviors and then analyze and identify patterns. Automated marketing tools can help manage brand communications on social media and elsewhere.
Similarly, the online retail company Amazon is the best example of implementing marketing automation. The brand’s knowledge of customer behavior improves the user experience by recommending additional items of interest, sending reminders, and keeping them informed about price adjustments.
A recent customer service study revealed that 72% of millennials believe a phone call is not always the best way to resolve their issues, and prefer self-service solutions like FAQs, online forums, and chat services.
Powered by Artificial intelligence (AI) technology, business organizations are automating customer support using live chatbots, mobile applications, and automated processes for grievance redressal. Right from modern banking to the eCommerce sector, automation is revolutionizing the customer support system.
For instance, AI-driven customer service bots are using natural language processing (or NLP) to take in customer orders. Chris McCann of 1-800-Flowers talks about using the GYWN chatbot to interact with customers more intuitively. He says that “instead of a structured process of filling out a form on a website, you’ll be able to just type into GWYN, ‘I’m looking for a birthday gift,’ and GWYN will ask, ‘Is it for a male or female? Age 30 or 35?”
Employee hiring and onboarding
Employee hiring and onboarding processes have a larger impact on overall workplace productivity. From setting up new email accounts to completing their paperwork, new employees and HR executives have a list of exhaustive tasks to complete during onboarding.
Automation in the form of automatic setting of new user accounts, sending of welcome emails, or providing easy access to work-related tools for new employees can streamline the onboarding process.
For example, with its Paperless Onboarding Platform (POP), Quess Corp provides a unique mobile-based digital onboarding and document submission platform. This enables the HR executives to onboard new hires with zero paperwork and simplifies the document verification process.
As digital technologies continue to evolve to meet changing business demands, the automation fabric is emerging as the focal point for enabling digital transformation. Going by the Forrester report, organizations must use CX tools such as customer journey mapping, as the core and integral part of their automation toolkit.
At Heptagon, we help companies leverage technologies like RPA and data analytics in their journey to digital transformation. Looking for a partner in enabling your digital business? You can reach out to us with your queries.