Future-proof not just your organisation but also your talents today
You may not be entirely comfortable talking about automation as there are so many technical terms such as, for instance, «Artificial Intelligence» or «Robotic Process Automation». A lack of dedicated automation functions and roles in your organisation, and potentially significant workforce implications, can make automation as an initiative intimidating.
These sentiments toward automation are common: You are not the only one facing a challenge in building sustainable, scalable automation projects. But there are a few important, often-overlooked steps that can help your case:
Business processes today are still designed for the days when large organisations had to rely on manual labour forces. But today’s reality paints a different picture.
It is especially important today that workforces focus on tasks that require social skills and creativity, instead of making them execute manual and repetitive rule-based processes. Various technologies are providing organisations with a unique opportunity to automate, enhance and transform today’s business processes.
From simple to more emerging automation technologies, we have identified, tested and implemented a list of the technologies you can apply today.
A number of the new classes of automation technologies designed to put automation power directly in the hands of business users (such as Robotic Desktop Automation and Robotic Process Automation) have sparked a great deal of interest in many organisations today. Depending upon the problems you want to solve, RPA is a simple form of rule-based automation that integrates a magnitude of isolated systems. But the future is about intelligent automation: business-led efforts using AI to augment human labour with digital labour to optimise workflows.
Don’t start by just explaining automation technology to your business partners. Instead, reframe the automation discussion with these six questions.
While it is easy to jump to what technology can do, that’s often the last piece of the puzzle. Once you have identified problem areas in your organisation, determine the approach: Do you want small automation sprints to attack discrete areas? Or do you want to reimagine the process with optimal orchestration between human and digital labour? The end game is always the same: playing to the strengths of both people and machines.
Whether you are pursuing smaller automation or redesigning end-to-end business processes, automation brings big organisational change. Business is constantly evolving, and roles and career paths will inevitably be redefined. To reduce the unease that comes with reorganisation, leaders can lean on corporate culture, tying the automation agenda to the reasons people are at the organisation in the first place: to provide great customer experiences, have the most efficient shop, or be the most innovative in their industry.
Just because new tools enable business users to automate tasks doesn’t mean automation is a simple endeavour. Defining and implementing an automation governance framework is crucial to achieving returns in the long term. From technology and data standards to security and controls to roles and responsibilities, businesses must address the tough questions that accompany automation.
The automation toolbox keeps expanding – from data tools and RPA to machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. While a new class of software lets business users automate tasks relatively quickly, that is just the starting point. Select the right combination of additional technologies to add intelligence to automation and continually optimise business processes.
Reducing costs is only a starting point. Employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and other business outcomes are different ways to justify and measure automation investments. If you think about customer experience as a part of every process, then operating models that were hard to imagine before automation came along may become possible. And business units can become more agile when operations staff members are empowered to automate manual tasks and apply their brainpower to critical thinking.
There are a number of regulatory topics such as:
Think about your organisation’s compliance and regulatory environment. Reflect on how to implement new controls and safeguards to minimise the risk of non-compliance introduced by automation.
Christian B. Westermann
Partner and Leader Data and Analytics, Zurich, PwC Switzerland
+41 58 792 27 97