How not to fail while implementing automation

In a world characterized by consumer experience as the primary competitive advantage, digital transformation is a strategic imperative for organizations across industries. Businesses have shifted their view of digital technology from a tool to an essential element across operations. This mindset is crucial to their ability to drive customer excellence, redesign how they deliver services, and discover new areas of growth.

While efficiency is the obvious benefit of digital transformation, value creation must be the holy grail. With the capability for change at speed and a high standard of quality, AI-led automation is fast becoming a critical factor in this transition. From facilitating the redirection of budgets to new products and services to freeing up employee time for value creation, automation can create progressively substantial value for companies. Unfortunately, the proliferation of automation has outpaced the quality of its execution at scale. There are many reasons for this.

An accomplished automation program requires several aspects of a business to come together simultaneously. Companies looking to incorporate automation into their digital transformation roadmaps must organize their enterprise for success from a stakeholder standpoint. Security, governance, and compliance management must complement comprehensive infrastructure. Most importantly, it is critical to identify the right processes to automate, those that can generate the most value. An in-depth understanding of those selected with all scenarios mapped out based on real execution data can provide the baseline for automation program design. Artificial Intelligence based analytics can deliver measurement and optimization, which also helps forecast accurate RoI. These areas are also most frequently the stumbling blocks in automation initiatives.

Consider, for instance, a large bank where automation initiatives didn’t reduce the AHT (average handle time) because exceptions were omitted in the roadmap. In another case, a logistics company might not see the RoI of automation because of the wrong process choice, one with many wasted steps. Each of these omissions and information leakages can have a substantial impact on the outcome of the automation process. So, why do the best-laid automation plans often go awry?

The primary concern is incorrect process identification and, in the case of the right selection, a skewed understanding of functioning. Conversations with subject matter experts and process leaders yield anecdotal inputs. With process definitions based on best-case scenarios, a rare occurrence in real execution, these inputs are frequently contaminated by human bias. Furthermore, this incorrect process mapping also omits day-to-day exceptions. Documented SOPs almost never reflect the reality of execution since they don’t account for challenges, exceptions, and real-world scenarios. In the case of outsourcing, partners are usually reluctant to reveal in-depth automation process and reports, if any, tend to be at a surface level.

Second, is the ineffective change management process, again based on hypothesis and conjecture. These issues can lead to a breakdown in the delivery process, inefficient goal setting, and inaccurate metrics for progress. The fact of the matter is that a manual approach to automation is inherently flawed.

Empirical data can address each of these challenges. Gathering and leveraging empirical data is possible through process discovery. Here’s how it works. Process discovery bots monitor an organization’s business process for a specific period to collect data on how individuals use various applications to perform tasks. AI-based analytics are then deployed to analyze the data and recommend the best candidates for automation through an evaluation of time, effort, and financial expenditure. Combining real execution data with best-in-class AI analytics, process discovery enables leaders to have a nuanced view of actual process functioning, allowing them to make informed decisions about their automation roadmap.

AssistEdge Discover is a process discovery product designed to serve this need. Its smooth yet straightforward user interface and design allow the tool to deliver powerful insights through a non-intrusive process of tracking keystrokes and clicks. AssistEdge Discover creates a comprehensive bank of observational data based on the user keystrokes using a single point of truth to help organizations identify processes that are tangible and material to the business, and most conducive for automation. Additionally, by gathering information at the execution layer, the tool tallies all possible variations using proprietary machine learning algorithms, accounting for exceptions and workarounds.

AssistEdge Discover combines this rich empirical data with sophisticated neural network algorithms to provide organizations with valuable and detailed automation roadmaps. These maps and the insights generated by the analytics engine create a robust foundation by not just distinguishing processes for automation but by creating automation workflows, making the design, development, and implementation of these programs quicker and more efficient. Thee workflows can then be moved directly to an RPA tool for a seamless automation process.

Automation can be an incredibly powerful tool across functions for businesses across industries. It is vital, however, for the quality of execution to take precedence over adoption so that organizations can unlock the real power of automation. Process discovery is integral to this journey. Powered by the ability to derive and analyze exhaustive and specific execution data, AssistEdge Discover takes the speculation out of the planning process to accelerate and amplify the speed and impact of automation.

Click here to experience the potential of AssistEdge Discover and schedule a demo.

Importance of Frictionless Customer Experience

In this digital era, everyone talks about the importance of customer experience. However, many businesses often confuse customer experience with customer service. Reasons might be many, but it is better to clarify in order to retain customers.

Imagine yourself as a customer, who has had a great experience while buying a product, but a negative experience when contacting the customer service for a query. For instance, when you are buying a product and receive good service at the sales counter from the sales representative, it is termed as a good customer service. Whereas, when you call the customer service center with a query, which is resolved with equal care and utmost diligence, it is called a good customer experience.

Customer Experience is about how customers perceive their interactions with a particular company, it is the sum of experiences at every touchpoint through the customer lifecycle. A bad or negative customer experience happens as a result of not focusing on all the aspects of a customer’s journey.
The same applies to the difference between “employee service” and “employee experience”, and all the other instances associated with great customer experience.

It would be pointless to mull over how one can provide a great, frictionless CX without understanding the various types of experiences and where CX positions itself in the gamut of experiences.

Gamut of Experiences

The representation above gives a high-level overview of each of the visible experiences and it is important to understand that the most elusive of all is CX- primarily because of its relationship with the other experiences.
Customer experience can be frictionless when the organization focuses on the rest of the experiences in the right manner.

Understanding Experiences

Experience is formed by the way a company is perceived by its customers. It is its brand perception and determined by how its employees and its customers feel about the brand.

Simply put, enterprise experience (EX) or the overall business and its success depends on the culmination of its product experience (PX), its services experience (SX) and how it is leveraged by the right kind of brand experience (BX) of the company.

The employees of the company need to be provided with the right kind of experiences and exposures to feel great about where they work and need to be informed about how their work is contributing towards the betterment of the lives of their customers and their own. The experiences of the employees can be designed to ensure that they get the best the organization can offer.

Each touchpoint of what the employee experiences is to give a feeling of camaraderie and professionalism. This can be designed correctly if we employ the right kind of user experience (UX) methods along with enhancing BX and CX. Employee experience should be designed to ensure that each employee’s role is poised to provide great customer service with pride and professionalism.

This can be designed into the overall DNA of the enterprise by focusing on the brand touchpoints within and outside of the company.

If done right, the experience of the employees would not just help create great customer service, but also add to the overall perception of the company and pave way for great customer experience as well.

Touchpoints for Creating Frictionless CX

To create frictionless CX, it is important to focus on all interactions across the entire customer journey.

The typical touchpoints where the customer interacts with the company are:

  • Customer Service – the various ways in which the enterprise serves its customers.
  • Customer Dashboards – defining the information and helping customers in decision-making.
  • Brand Reputation – how the brand speaks to internal and external stakeholders and helps the customer’s brand meet its goals.
  • Sales Process – how the sales process is designed to understand the customer’s most difficult problem and thus provide solutions.
  • Pricing Fairness – how to help customers make the right choice for the right price.
  • Product/Service Delivery – how the delivery models are strategically positioned internally and externally to provide for the best enterprise experience for the customer’s business.

These may seem a handful and may sound difficult to achieve, but for a frictionless customer experience, these need to be addressed in the right manner.

Framework for Achieving Frictionless Customer Experience

Addressing complex aspects of CX is not feasible unless there is a structured approach for providing the best experiences.

One such model for a structured approach is experience framework (ExF) represented below –

ExF

The key aspects of ExF are summarised below:

  • A deterministic approach towards structured experience improvement.
  • Individual to multiple experiences study.
  • Recommendations on the best possible approach to meet business needs.
  • AS IS and TO BE recommendations.
  • Objective contextual insights to make informed decisions on best possible business scenarios.

This approach has been designed to provide the right mix of value to our stakeholders and its value benefits have been detailed below:

ExF Quadrant

The objective approach towards achieving frictionless customer experience is possible only when, as an organization, there is a clear understanding of various types of experiences and implementations.

In Conclusion

ExF is not just a framework to create a frictionless customer experience, but it is more of a value identification mechanism for businesses, with a design-based approach to cover all possible stakeholders as per context.

The key aspect for a frictionless CX is to ensure that there is a clear definition of what each experience means for the business and its target stakeholders.

About the writer

Vijay Bhaskar is a Design Strategist with the UX team @ Edgeverve and loves to connect dots for an effective business outcome.
He specializes in experiences that can objectively shape decisions for better designed products.
He is passionate about understanding user behavior and using data for design decisions.

Unlock the true value of Automation with Process Discovery

Doesn’t it feel time is just flying by? It was just yesterday when we welcomed 2019 and a month has already passed by. In today’s digital world, there is an ever increasing expectation to service a highly informed customer and an increased pressure to do things faster to stay relevant in a competitive marketplace. Be it launching new products, taking innovative services to market or deeper personalization to stay connected with the real needs of the customer. Enterprises are constantly striving to transform the way they do business leveraging a wide range of digital capabilities. Digital led transformation will have limited success unless enterprises are agile in transforming their internal processes.

AI and Automation, the two powerful digital enablers can shape this process transformation in a fundamental way. Remapping human-machine interaction and restructuring the possibilities of a process outcome. In other words, influencing both process acceleration and more importantly process value amplification. Having a deep understanding of the real process and low level data on human-system interaction are essential to craft an intelligent automation strategy.

Having executed over 200 large scale automation implementations, EdgeVerve sees a direct correlation between deep process understanding and automation success. One of the world’s largest fast food chains, has seen 99 percent success rate! They attribute this success to the deep process know how that existed within the business, a clear understanding of human-system interaction within the IT organization and a collective focus towards value amplification than just cost reduction.

While many enterprises around the world have initiated the automation journey, few have seen this kind of success. In some organizations, critical processes have been outsourced to BPO providers adding another level of complexity in the transformation journey. Industry studies indicate that over 50% of enterprise automation programs do not meet the intended outcome. Based on our experience with automation implementation across multiple industries and being part of client journey in expanding automation across hundred plus countries, we see lack of process understanding as a one of the top reasons for limited success with automation.

Enterprises have standard operating procedures, but they seldom reflect the reality as there are many variations or SOP’s become outdated as processes evolve through grass root innovations and shadow operations. Using manual knowledge that cannot be objectively validated or in combination with SOP, as a baseline to create automation blueprint leads to numerous issues during implementation. Over reliance on interviews conducted with people who are concerned about automation, automating based on a perceived happy path, not considering process execution related innovations, running change management which is coloured with human bias, not accommodating for process variations while designing automation are some of the characteristics of a sub optimally structured automation program.

Would it not be a lost opportunity if enterprises do not leverage intelligent automation, which has the potential to spear head the entire digital transformation as a lever to redesign processes and rewire operating models to maximise business outcome?

So how do we unlock the full potential of automation? Invest in “Process Discovery”. Process discovery that will uncover various tasks involved in a process, interlocking between tasks-actors, underlying nuances and subtle human-system interactions overlaid by human intelligence. Discipline to start from process discovery coupled with continuous improvement mind-set can lay a powerful foundation towards sustainable value creation. Insights from discovery can not only help establish the real value proposition (business case) with objectivity, but also assist in tracking and navigating the automation journey.

Empirical data based discovery without any human bias can be a potent answer to concerns surrounding change management and stakeholder engagement. Impact of insightful process discovery underpinned by rich empirical data on tasks (foundational element of enterprise operation), can go beyond the boundaries of automation as a corner stone enabler for enterprise digital transformation.

To enable enterprises in getting the maximum output from their Automation program, EdgeVerve Systems recently launched ‘AssistEdge Discover’, a non-intrusive product that leverages user key strokes and sophisticated neural network algorithms to create insightful business process maps. Using empirical data, AssistEdge Discover reveals crucial process nuances essential to create an effective automation blueprint and provides an ability to unlock the true value of automation. Free from human biases, the business process maps and insights generated by the analytics engine in AssistEdge Discover provide a powerful foundation for inter-functional collaboration, effective change management and continuous improvement.

AssistEdge is now a CyberArk certified partner

AssistEdge CyberArk C3 Alliance

AssistEdge RPA is now one of the most secure enterprise RPA solutions in the market. The CyberArk Application Identity Manager integrated with AssistEdge provides a secure means for robots to automate enterprise processes. The enterprise vault stores and manages credentials and rotates them as per organizational compliance policies.

In order to automate enterprise processes, software bots need access to a myriad of applications and their credentials. This makes the enterprise vulnerable to cyber threats as there is minimum manual monitoring. Also with repeated usage of credentials, the system becomes susceptible to external security threats.

Clients who have partnered with both CyberArk and AssistEdge will be able to avail the best in class credential management solution. This will allow the robots to securely retrieve credentials from the CyberArk vault and perform actions accordingly. The vault will be able to store and rotate application credentials and eliminate hard-coded credentials from scripts, application code and configuration files. This integration also streamlines the security operations of an organization while ensuring a perpetual readiness for a compliance audit.

AssistEdge as a product helps transform manual enterprise processes to modernized automated processes with the help of a digital workforce. AssistEdge RPA helps in end to end automation of
repetitive tasks/processes/ transactions; while the Smart User Environment offering helps with assisted automation and exhibits a unified dashboard for agents to overlook disparate information from different sources and provide automation on demand.

Introducing AssistEdge RPA 17.6

EdgeVerve has launched AssistEdge RPA 17.6, an advanced version of popular enterprise automation platform. This version introduces the first wave of cognitive automation capabilities along with multi-modal configuration, which allows users to configure an application for automation using different modes applicable to that application, such as Windows, Web, etc. The multi-modal feature significantly reduces the effort to configure a process and enables users to experience 35-40% improvements in time spent towards creating automation.

AssistEdge RPA 17.6 also enables enterprises to adopt cognitive automation through seamless integration with Infosys Nia, Google and Microsoft’s cognitive APIs. Enhancements to the AssistEdge Automation Studio reduces design time, improves process accuracy, enables semantic and sentiment analysis.

This version of AssistEdge uses Portable Document Format (PDF) controls as well as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to deliver improvements in data quality and greater accuracy compared to other image based extraction tools, with client focus groups reporting 15-20% improvements in the quality of extracted data. The existing Control Tower dashboard features have been enhanced for better transparency and bot management.

Highlights

  • Industry leading dynamic PDF extraction using PDF controls
  • Advanced cognitive adaptors for semantic and sentiment analysis
  • Well defined access controls and credentials management
  • Transparent CPU and memory utilization for finer process control

Further information on AssistEdge RPA 17.6 can be found here.