The way organizations use technology and automation has changed significantly in the last few years. Today they are looking at comprehensive, sustained, scalable ways to improve efficiency by leveraging machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other technologies. So, what does this mean for your organization? How do you know if you’re on the right side of the intelligent automation curve?
The way organizations use technology and automation has changed significantly in the last few years. As opposed to a few years back when most of them were merely interested in automating basic business processes, today they are looking at comprehensive, sustained, scalable ways to improve efficiency by leveraging machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other technologies. So what does this mean for your organization? How do you know if you’re on the right side of the intelligent automation curve?
To help organizations answer these questions, we have developed the Automation Maturity Model (AMMo) that breaks down the automation journey into four stages. Let us examine some common scenarios which organizations encounter as they go through this journey:
These are organizations with arrested automation adoption. While automation has half a century of history, there are still many organizations that have not yet leveraged the power of technology. The reason could be due to a lack of awareness or a fear of change. Some of the common factors behind those may be that:
- The organization is not aware of the benefits of automation.
- It is not willing to invest in automation.
- It is unwilling to change its culture.
The organizations that fall in this category stay outside the curve. They are reluctant to automate since the perceived risk involved outweighs the return on investment. There is an ever-present need to maintain the status quo. However, organizations falling under this category run the risk of being irrelevant in today’s digital world.
Today, digital transformation has become increasingly important for businesses as customers demand instantaneous access to products and services at all times, anywhere in the world. This means that even small businesses need efficient digital processes if they are going to remain competitive with large corporations and other industry players who already possess them; companies must stay ahead of their competition by investing wisely in high-quality IT systems that provide value for money spent today – but also enable them to develop new features based on customer feedback tomorrow.
In this scenario, it is the employees who are willing to adopt automation but there is no support from the management. We find some interesting dynamics at play in this scenario. There is a strong desire to automate and leverage the benefits offered by automation on part of employees but they refuse to take initiatives in fear of annoying upper management who think along the traditional lines of management and employees working together without automation. This creates an internal conflict especially when employees and managers see automation as distinct causes which may not be conducive for each other.
In the same vein, there are managers who are ready to automate but are unaware that their employees may oppose or be uncomfortable with it due to lack of clear communication channels between them. Managers may have different ideas about what kind of process should be implemented before making any changes. This might cause further confusion among staff members who already feel wary about workplace changes due to increased workloads and expectations from leadership. Such changes can lead to uncertainty related to job security since they cannot assess whether their job will remain untouched after implementing these new improvements or whether they’ll need additional training in order to improve upon their performance levels. All these factors add up quickly into a vicious cycle where everyone ends up feeling overwhelmed rather than empowered enough by these new changes!
This is a scenario wherein the management is driven to adopt automation, but culture change is difficult/employees are not keen to adopt it. In this case, you will have to find ways to get employees on board and make them see the benefits of automation. The key is to highlight the fact that an automated system can’t take over jobs but only supports human employees in performing them better.
It all depends on what your organization needs at any given time. For example, if your organization has been using fax machines or courier services for sending documents back and forth from one location to another, then it makes sense for you to implement an automated document management system where employees can send their documents electronically instead of sending physical documents, which might save both time as well as money. However, if there aren’t many people working with documents then it might not be worth your while implementing such a system because it would take too much time before realizing any savings. Hence, decision-makers must analyze their requirements thoroughly when deciding whether or not automation is right for their business.
This is where organizations start their journey toward becoming “Intelligent” (not necessarily intelligent enough). As soon as organizations become aware of the benefits of AI/ML based automation, they start investing in it. But shortly after realizing the challenges involved with implementing it, they give up on building bots and maintaining them since there are no processes or frameworks available which support a successful implementation. This scenario highlights the difference between employing technology and utilizing technology to your advantage.
A few questions that you have to answer before moving forward with Intelligent Automation:
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- How do I know if this solution is better than my existing manual process?
- Who will work on this project?
- How much time should I allocate for this project?
If you don’t have an understanding of these basic questions, then you might end up wasting money by going down a path that does not align well with your business goals or causes more harm than good.
In this scenario, both employees and management are committed towards adopting automation and strides have been made in that direction.
The next step in this journey is to determine your organization’s current state with respect to automation, and then develop a plan for implementing intelligent automation. The first step is to ask yourself:
- Are employees and management committed towards adopting automation? If so, what are they willing to do and how far are they willing to go?
- Is automation a means to an end or the end itself?
- Is it a journey rather than a destination? Is it continuous and never-ending? As technology continues to evolve, we should continue learning about new ways of leveraging it so our business processes remain relevant in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.
The next step is to define what automation means to your organization. This can be done by examining the business processes in which automation will be applied. For example, if you are looking at automating tasks related to customer service, then you need to look at all the steps involved in handling and resolving customer issues—from point of entry through resolution.
The key takeaway is that organizations should realize the importance of automation, and start investing in it. When we look at the adoption cycle, most organizations fall under one of these categories. Some are still trying to understand how to leverage AI/ML based automation while others have already started their journey towards becoming intelligent with incremental improvements. The challenge lies in knowing which category your organization falls under and taking appropriate steps towards making it more intelligent.
The most effective way to create a culture of innovation and experimentation is through education and training programs that cultivate skillsets in continuous improvement, creativity, and collaboration among team members. The second step is creating automated processes that automate the most repetitive tasks so that everyone has more time for strategic work rather than manual work that can be done by machines or computer programs.
All of this can be achieved faster, more affordably, and with greater precision when you work with an external partner like VBeyond Digital.