The return on investment (ROI) on automation is something that all senior stakeholders keep a close eye on. Hardly surprising, given that automation holds a lot of promise.
An intelligent, AI-led automation solution can help enterprises take automation to a completely different level where speed, efficiency, and accuracy are at a never-before highs. That ushers in new capabilities and accelerates the business transformation of the organization.
However, like all major initiatives, automation brings challenges. For example, organizations relying on yesterday’s solutions battle with broken processes or sub-optimal automation. The ROI of siloed implementation will be nowhere close to what you can achieve with an optimized, connected process automation solution.
We discuss here the six principal challenges to efficient automation.
Unlike a lot of other initiatives, ideas for automation need to come more from within your organization than outside. Being hands-on subject matter experts, your own teams are most suited to spot processes that could be great candidates for automation.
However, almost all enterprises are handicapped when it comes to tapping automation opportunity ideas from across the enterprise. Most ideas come only from a handful of people, and not all these people have full, on-ground experience with the processes they talk about.
So you want a system that can cast a wide net, include everyone, and offer everyone an equal chance to come up with automation suggestions. But the principal challenge with automation ideas is about visibility. How will you track the idea? What would be a good way of knowing if the idea has been reviewed at the right levels? When the senior stakeholders want a quick overview, where will all the information be available?
In absence of proven systems, automation opportunities will likely get a much lower priority than they deserve or – even worse – drop off the automation funnel.
What you really need: A centralized repository under a single platform is the only way to address all this, and more.
Ideally, your automation solution should have this unified, systematized repository that accepts, channels, and helps track ideas for automation from across the enterprise.
Your team members will feed their ideas for automation, including as many details as possible like addressable audience and importance of the process.
The senior team-members can watch where the idea is currently and whether it needs to be fast-tracked. Based on the reviews, optimized and important processes get a priority, with a clear tracking system. You can be sure neither ideas nor opportunities will go unrealized or even unrecorded.
Is your approach to automation entirely data-driven or are there gaps that are being filled with ad hoc responses? Do you have robust systems in place to accurately identify and prioritize processes for automation? Can you be always confident that you will automate only the most efficient processes?
Without automation maturity, enterprises will not make any headway in their journey to business transformation. Among other things, you always have the risk of automating an inefficient variation of the process while ignoring the most optimized version.
What you really need: Basing decisions on random observations instead of insights based on data does more harm than good. At enterprise level, you cannot afford not being data-driven.
After all, there could be literally countless variations to each process. Your automation platform, therefore, should be able to overcome the challenge by first generating data-backed insights. The solution should be able to understand which variation is the most efficient. It should be able to optimize processes before they are automated.
After all, automation delivers stronger ROI only when the processes have been optimized for efficiency and prioritized for automation.
Ok, so now you have identified and prioritized all the processes you’d want to automate. The next logical step is planning and estimating.
The challenge here is unusual. Productivity and cost-effective efficiency are your goals in automation. If you work with a conservative estimate, there will be a shortfall leading to broken or dysfunctional processes. Planning for bots with a considerable margin would upset your budget and your ROI will start sinking.
Also, if you are not looking into scaling automation, you’re severely restricting the capabilities and reach of automation bots. When you don’t scale, your automation costs rise without associated benefits. Your per bot pricing also is higher because you haven’t fully used their capacities.
What you really need: Estimating is not just about costs. Automation planning includes estimating, procuring, setting up, and testing the bots, and triggering re-trials whenever required. You want to know which departments or business units will get a priority, because most of the planning and even the ROI will depend upon these.
You need a solution that will help you with scaling automation bots that will work in tandem with changing scenarios. In other words, upscale when there are peak loads and downscale when requirements are modest.
So basically, you need the automation partner to be able to tell you how many licenses will be required. And don’t forget that deployment method will matter too – will you deploy it on-premises or on cloud or through a combination of the two.
How this US-based healthcare insurer achieved an amazing ROI from automation is truly an illustrative study of what powerful solutions can do.
Selecting the right processes and building a centralized pool of automation ideas form a substantial portion of all the automation challenges. But for organizations that are targeting digital transformation, the story is still incomplete.
Overlooking how your systems can leverage existing documents is a common mistake. It holds back a lot of benefits that might otherwise be possible. For instance, customer-facing teams would not be empowered unless there is full digital support from automation.
In particular, the challenge lies in extracting insights locked within processes and associated documents. How would your teams generate contextual insights in real-time when there are lots of blind spots?
What you really need: Your customer teams will agree how critical it is to have solutions that will extract the correct information even while your teams are holding a conversation with clients. It would prevent turning a customer with some questions into an exasperated customer who’d probably take a long time to cool down.
More than just saving time and energy for your teams, an intelligent automation solution fully empowers your teams. Even unstructured documents can be “understood” by such solutions. Ask for a solution that will reinforce your team’s ability to pull out the correct documents effectively, contextually, and swiftly. This will ensure your support teams serve your customers more efficiently.
There are few initiatives where ‘time is money’ speaks as loudly as it does with automation. This is primarily because of your human teams’ involvement.
Deploying automation and bots doesn’t mean everything will run picture-perfect. Testing and understanding the test results is another challenge you’ll encounter.
You deploy human teams to understand what to automate, and then deploy human teams to test automation at every stage. That’s a bit of a paradox, because when not done right, it will lead to delays and low accuracy. And both will lead to a longer time to market and increased costs – both of which are the factors you wanted to eliminate with automation in the first place.
What you really need: The simple answer is: use automation to test your automation. Insist for a solution that will test and conduct retrials.
This is far more critical than it might first appear. Human-led testing can be slow and unreliable. But not so with automation technology. An expert solution will hasten testing, help automate faster, and speed up migration in a smarter way.
End-to-end management of bots is never easy. Then there are infrastructure challenges too. Your automation solution could fall short in managing end-to-end bot operations. Add to it the challenges you’ll encounter during upgrades or migration, and things complicate further.
What’s more, you’ll need to factor in a considerable number of variables. For instance, your business scenario may have changed. How does that impact your processes? What kind of changes will that mean for your bots?
What you really need: Think of a centralized cockpit with a firm handshake with your Centre of Excellence (CoE) for automation.
This should be capable of automating every step in your automation journey. From process discovery to validation and monitoring, your solution needs to be self-reliant. The solution should know that your human teams and bots aren’t working independent of each other.
You want the solution to seamlessly integrate the workflow between your human workers and your digital workers and AI. We’d urge you to look at the success story of this global telecom company that improved its agent productivity by 20% and completely transformed customer experience.
A surprising number of enterprises have unknowingly taken what has now turned out to be an ad hoc approach to automation. While such an approach is easier to take off, it produces very limited results. The adoption becomes myopic and expensive.
An intelligent automation platform will overcome challenges and produce lasting results with a strong ROI. AssistEdge 20.0 is an AI-first automation platform that has proven capabilities that are both deep and far-reaching. Our clients have benefitted from how AssistEdge 20.0 scales their automation, increases the scope of automation, and ultimately augments the productivity of your hybrid workforce.
Why not drop us a line to learn how you should approach automation to take your business transformation to the next level? We’d be delighted to speak to you!