Process automation has moved from the factory floor to the world of knowledge work, but “robots” can’t do it alone, they need smart people to ask good questions, solve problems creatively, connect to people, and manage unstructured data. Companies that calibrate both smart hands with smart machines are already getting higher productivity and superior business results.
The Center for the Future of Work published our take in the whitepaper “The Robot and I” on a new and important type of robotics emerging that we call intelligent process automation (IPA). With IPA, smart machines augment and extend people’s uniquely human capabilities – empathy, creativity, problem-solving and drive – to deliver superior business results, using increasing levels of built on AI and machine learning.
Organizations must act swiftly to close the gap between where they are now with automation IPA and where they hope to be over the coming years (which are flying toward us). Inertia is not an option, and for almost every business, it won’t be enough to simply flip a light-switch and drive process change overnight. Organizations will need to accept and embrace different process approaches for better outcomes to deliver higher impact. (Hint: it’s not about the number of “people doing the process.”)
Here are a couple of pointers to get started:
With automation, make sure you’re keeping business outcomes as the “prime directive” to drive, guide, scale and test for success. Look for transaction-based or outcome-based pricing models. In other words, the days are over for simply “throwing more bodies at the task” to get it done. With powerful new technologies of automation, the capabilities of fewer people are magnified by robots.
Extract data (and distill meaning-making) to refine the fuel that drives process excellence. Leaders will prioritize data that drives down costs, improves understandingof customers, boosts speed and quality, and streamlines processes. Revenue potential starts — not surprisingly — with customers. Use those processesto get started — and apply new technologies of automation and digitization toknow customers, as well as focus on the right sets of data that help drive that knowledge.
These are the “big” considerations, and you’ll not only want to rate them on Monday morning, but also continuously revisit them as lodestars for your organization’s process journey in the years ahead. But there are approaches, especially around readiness for process automation, in which months of readiness assessment can be compressed into as little as a week, and piloting and testing compressed into two to four weeks of development to showcase results.
Some simple questions to ask prior to a process readiness assessment include: “How do I get rid of paper based process inputs, such as invoices or claims, and get my process truly ‘digital’ from the outset?” “Do the people delivering my processes today add value or inject risk?” “What are we learning about our business or industry value chain as data is analyzed, and does it help smart people to make better judgments?”
Businesses need a fresh approach to their organization models and processes — and they need to digitize to analyze. Automation is a crucial new delivery model to make that happen.
To learn more, our research in “The Robot and I” reveals new market insights that chart the progress in the journey so far, where process change is most likely to occur next in specific industries and, importantly, what you should do about it.