As the dust settles on the change and disruption from the past two years, new permanent trends are emerging reflecting the maturity of several disrupting technologies. These changes were forced upon businesses, especially when faced with “change or go bankrupt” conditions. One of the results of this change has been increased investment in digital technologies. Some of the justifications have been to reduce manual steps, eliminate paper, and automate business processes. Couple these changes with the advances that have occurred in Artificial Intelligence (AI), and it becomes clear how these trends have merged – and why so many businesses are now embracing Intelligent Process Automation.
According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, McKinsey defines Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) as:
“A collection of business-process improvements and modern technologies that combines fundamental process redesign with robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and cognitive technologies like optical character recognition (OCR) and natural language processing (NLP).”
Intelligent Process Automation can help organizations to redesign processes and workflows by providing a closer alignment of the customer journey for an improved experience. Today, that experience means more self-guided tools and resources that are available to prospective customers on their timeframe, without disruption. With this greater level of personalization and insights, it is possible to better automate mundane tasks to achieve groundbreaking increases in productivity.
Based on what was shared in the HBR article, including findings from a survey conducted with 4,000 global executives, here are five reasons why companies are now hyper-focused on automating business processes and applying intelligence to drive new growth.
1. The need for business resilience and agility is a top priority
A core experience most businesses must now manage is the severity of change and disruption. The “new normal” is one where big change can occur more often and with greater impact. The best way to accommodate and manage this disruption is by increasing the automation of key business processes. Adding intelligence to these processes can increase performance while shrinking the time required to respond.
2. Intelligent Process Automation is coming of age
Much has already been invested and is now understood concerning the value of automating tasks. Most businesses have already ventured down this road and have achieved demonstrable success with existing projects. With this knowledge and experience, there is growing momentum to invest further – it is already a proven value. By adding AI and analytics to an automated process, it is possible to extract even greater value that can be measured and reported on to validate the value that has been achieved.
3. An increasing volume of processes is being performed by machines
The volume of work performed by intelligent machines is increasing rapidly. This shift has occurred out of necessity with the deluge of data now being generated as part of so many business processes. Industry research is now suggesting that the volume of business processes expected to be performed by machines will grow by up to 50% between 2021 and 2023. As this level of automation continues to expand, AI and other smart technologies will be required to stay ahead of the high volume of data. There simply will be no other way to stay current.
4. Today, the volume of highly scaled Intelligent process automation projects is rare
Of those surveyed, only 8% indicated they had deployed a process automation project at a significant scale. The reason is that most of these organizations have only implemented these types of projects piecemeal. The decision to invest has traditionally been to address specific pain points instead of taking a bigger, more holistic perspective and looking at end-to-end workflows. McKinsey sees that this strategy will change as enterprises recognize the value of implementing increasingly sophisticated automation toolsets across business functions. The focus will be on supporting employees as the new way of work. With so few projects currently underway, those that are implemented will demonstrate big ROI and drive further attention and investment.
5. The more intelligence that is embedded in a process, the greater the returns
The performance improvement that has already been achieved when involving automating business processes with AI and analytics has been significant – while utilizing few resources. This is a double-edged sword. Not only has output increased but so too have the inputs utilized to automate these processes. The areas of higher performance include improving operational efficiency, accelerating decision making, reducing risk, and achieving a better customer experience.
Implementing a new Intelligent Process Automation project with “smart” automation requires new skills and organizational models. As automation in the workplace continues to expand, organizations will increasingly need new or expanded skillsets from their employees to help ease decision making, learning, and creativity. There will be a significant shift that occurs as automation moves beyond a collection of siloed, individual initiatives to a more holistic strategy that reshapes how the enterprise performs work.
As this industry shift occurs, the best way to start is to identify a trusted advisor or partner that you can work with to help prepare your organization for the coming change. Contact Axis Technical Group for a complimentary consultation to better understand what options exist, and what sort of return on investment is possible when you invest in Intelligent Process Automation.