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How to Choose an Intelligent Automation Platform that Delivers Business-Led Process Transformation

When choosing an automation platform, focus on the features that help you ‘close the gap’ to sustainable business success

AUGUST 22, 2022

Market disruption is everywhere. Geopolitical uncertainty screams from the headlines. Right now, so much about our economic future is simply unpredictable.

And yet you still have a business to run, customers to serve, investors to satisfy.

More than a third of business leaders expect intelligent automation to help them drive future revenue growth. Leading analysts forecast that investments in automation technologies will double over the next two years — and that these technologies will be deployed in more business-critical processes.

Your brand can make the most of its investments in intelligent automation. But to do so, you must first “close the gaps” that stand in the way of realizing operating outcomes that make a sustainable difference in performance and efficiency. This involves choosing an automation platform that allows your business experts to lead the way in achieving the results they’re looking for, not IT

Process automation efforts that get real, sustainable results are business-led — not driven by the IT function.

That’s why, when choosing a platform for intelligent automation, you’ll want to choose one that the people actually operating your business can be comfortable using — not one where you must heavily rely on technologists.

Close These “Gaps” So You Can Get Results

Intelligent Automation (IA) is making possible a revolution in how knowledge work gets done. It automates work by mimicking the capabilities of human workers with software and other technology. 

When those capabilities are brought together to address complex end-to-end business issues, both the business and customers reap the rewards — from the front office to the back office, and everywhere in between. 

How to Choose an Intelligent Automation Platform that Delivers Business-Led Process Transformation

The success of digital transformation depends on many things, but one most of all: how you apply intelligent automation (IA) technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent decision management systems, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), smart analytics and cognitive computing to drive value. 

To do that, there are planning, process and resource obstacles you must face before you can succeed. We call these “gaps.” Choosing the right automation platform helps ensure you can close them.

1. The Scope Gap

Only automation efforts that can make a big enough business impact should be prioritized. Isolated, discrete task automations have limited impact. And most often, they fail to make a difference that can actually be felt by the customer.

But if you set your sights higher — and take on whole-process and workflow sequences that connect to one another — you’re more likely to reach the level of business outcome necessary to have a material impact on your enterprise’s success. IA yields the best results when deployed across the enterprise, orchestrating multiple business-critical functions, applications, processes and workloads.

2. The Skill Gap

There is an alarming shortage of skilled resources required to design, build, deploy and manage IA programs, especially when it comes to more complex deployments involving machine learning and AI. Unless this skill gap is addressed immediately, no amount of vision, strategy and perseverance will make up for that critical resource.

How to Choose an Intelligent Automation Platform that Delivers Business-Led Process Transformation

Sadly, most automation solutions are still designed for technologies. To make automation projects truly agile, scalable and aligned to business outcomes, business users need to have more control over automation without having to be completely reliant on central IT organizations.

3. The Usability Gap

Today, most intelligent automation initiatives, including RPA projects, are technology-led rather than business-led. But since IA creates a virtual workforce that can be trained and tasked, it will be the business rather than the IT function that oversees this new workforce. As such, doesn’t it make sense for the business to be driving the effort from the start?

A business-led approach would allow actual users to define how, when and where to deploy this new resource, while IT provides the proper infrastructure, support, security and governance. IT-led automation efforts often result in longer development cycles, higher costs and more inflexible solutions.

4. The Design Gap

Every real transformation effort begins by thoroughly understanding the process being automated. And that includes the roles of all the people (and machines) touching it. You examine their behaviors, intents and patterns of thought. Only then can you reimagine it in a human-centered way — not just reengineer the process. From there, it’s a matter of applying the right cognitive technologies to bring the reimagining to life.

5. The Results Gap

Organizations like the World Economic Forum estimate that intelligent automation-led digital transformation might enable $100 trillion of new value across industries by 2025. [1] While digital transformation remains THE imperative for aligning business strategy with a changing marketplace to drive everything from agility, scalability and productivity to efficiency, innovation and revenue — actual results continue to fall short.

Just 30% of digital transformation projects are deemed a success. And just half of those actually deliver performance improvements. So far, actual transformation efforts have failed to live up to their promise. And the path to sustainable business value remains unclear.

What to Look For in an Automation Platform to Help Close Those Gaps

The ideal intelligent automation platform for your business will be one that enables a real separation of tasks between those who run your business and those who manage your technology. 

Both business users and domain specialists need to be empowered to bring their respective strengths to all aspects of automation initiatives — from design, development and deployment to managing the ongoing day-to-day features and components of the automation.

How to Choose an Intelligent Automation Platform that Delivers Business-Led Process Transformation

Here are some of the questions you should be asking when searching for an automation solution:

Does the platform allow for ease of development?

A business-led automation platform must enable citizen developers with low-code automation. Many digital automation platforms provide a set of tools and resources that enable non-professional developers to design, deploy and manage a range of applications — from simple workflows to complex cross-functional applications.

A simple low-code or no-code interface, combined with graphic design capabilities, allows business users without any prior coding exposure to create intelligent applications using a simple drag-and-drop framework. This lets business users take full control over their processes while freeing up the enterprise IT organization to focus on other things.

Does it enable simple collaboration between business people and technologists?

The right automation solution must facilitate and streamline collaboration. Ideally, it’s a unified solution that combines rule-based technologies with ML/AI-based advanced analytics in a single, integrated end-to-end platform.

How to Choose an Intelligent Automation Platform that Delivers Business-Led Process Transformation

Business rules management enables today’s digital automation platforms to deliver rules-based automation using simple graphical modeling tools that eliminate the need for coding. This approach enhances agility by empowering business experts to directly apply their knowledge to digital business processes. A business rules management system (BRMS) allows line of business users to react fast to market demands. It allows them to define, test, monitor and change complex decision logic without having to wait for IT.

These days, there are advanced digital automation platforms that can be used to implement powerful decisioning services, be they fully automated decisions based on business rules and AI or workflow-based case-by-case decisions. These solutions extend the low-code drag-and-drop functionality to digital decisioning, further simplifying the process of creating decision models, defining business rules and embedding machine learning models.

Does it feature a central model repository?

The ideal solution should include central model repository features that simplify the process of adapting and managing models. As with business rules, digital decisioning is also centralized, which means that all decisions can be managed and implemented as a single source of truth, and can be reused across processes and applications without the need for code and as well as modified without IT intervention. Users can graphically embed trained ML models into decision and rule models, or even apply real-time AI-generated insights to operational decision-making.

Does it provide real transparency and track of automation efforts?

It should offer end-to-end transparency, traceability and interpretability for every single automation decision, thereby enabling auditability.

Does it be flexibly deployed?

Flexible ownership and delivery options are important because they allow a business to choose between on-premise and cloud deployments, or choose to start small and scale gradually. 

Does the platform fully support the human-centered design for reimagined processes? 

Pushing costs out of your business with successful human-centered automation doesn’t just cut costs. It cuts them in a way that very often grows revenue. Smart automation grows brand loyalty. That’s because a happy customer — one served by automation built with behavioral insight — is also a loyal customer. And it’s loyal customers that spend money on all the good things your business has to offer. The right automation platform must fully support robust, data-based automation design.

Automation platform features can help close the gaps that stand in the way of desired business outcomes. This chart summarizes which features of digital intelligent automation platforms help to overcome which common obstacles to automation success.


Scope

Gap

Skill

Gap

Usability Gap

Design Gap

Results

Gap

Ease of development

x

x

x

x

x

Simplicity of collaboration

x

x

x

x

x

Central model repository


x

x

x

x

Transparency & tracking



x

x

x

Deployment flexibility

x

x



x

Enables human design

x

x

x

x

x

Next-generation digital automation platforms offer a breadth of advanced functionalities even as they address some of the key pain points of relatively conventional solutions.

Most importantly, those platforms embody the value of business-led automation and offer significant advantages in terms of agility, flexibility, efficiency, innovation and digital competence.

If you’re among those looking to use intelligent automation to help deal with the ambiguity by cutting costs in a way that can also grow revenue, reach out. We’d be happy to help.

 

About the Authors

 

Vartul Mittal is a 40 Under 40 Distinguished Digital Transformation Leader and an Intelligent Automation (IA) specialist. Vartul has built, cultivated and grown thriving ecosystems and marketplaces for more than 16 years by focusing on helping global clients accelerate their digital transformation journey. He has a broad range of experience in enterprise business transformation, both as a management consultant and within in-house centers of excellence focusing on intelligent automation, advanced analytics and cloud adoption.


Banwari Agarwal is a seasoned C-suite leader with extensive experience in the Business & Technology Services industry, Banwari brings 25 years of cross-geography experience in leadership roles in IT, consulting and delivery for large global accounts across the US, Europe and APAC. With a proven track record of implementing and scaling-up organizational growth models, Banwari has led diverse global teams for several Fortune 500 organizations.

[1] $100 Trillion by 2025: the Digital Dividend for Society and Business > Press releases | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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