The days of manually completing tasks are over — the future is all about automation. From automating customer service inquiries to collecting and managing data, automation means businesses can do more with less effort. Indeed, automated workflows and processes can help businesses streamline operations while eliminating errors and complexity.
But when it comes to achieving true business advantage from automation, IT leaders struggle to enable automation across the enterprise to develop a common vision for its ultimate value proposition. These seemingly small, inconsequential decisions can eventually become a mountain of technical debt and a decentralized patchwork of automation solutions.
The best way to ensure that your business is able to realize the full potential of automation is to build a composable enterprise: an enterprise that has at its core a cohesive set of processes and a common IT architecture.
Composability: Democratizing Automation & Driving Innovation
A composable enterprise is a flexible organization, which is built to adapt quickly. This is made possible by building reusable building blocks (APIs) and creating a culture where adaptability and agility are emphasized. As a result, the business can react to changing market demands as a single business unit.
In an enterprise with composable automation and business capabilities, any kind of automation—ranging in complexity from robotic tasks to customer-facing applications—can be assembled from centrally governed digital building blocks. Gartner calls these building blocks packaged business capabilities (PBCs), which include your APIs, connectors, and other integration assets.
PBCs are essential to business automation. They enable composable enterprises by allowing teams—from central IT to business users—to leverage existing digital capabilities along with discoverable and reusable PBCs. A composable enterprise embraces the API economy by using PBCs to extend its core capabilities to partners, customers, and developers.
To encourage innovation throughout the organization, IT leaders must deploy an automation strategy that focuses on democratizing the responsibility of identifying and finding solutions for everyday challenges. This approach positions your organization to take a platform approach to automation, where APIs and other reusable PBCs help unlock data from back-end systems and provide stakeholders with governed access to automated processes.
Steps to Crafting a Successful Automation Strategy
Business automation is an essential component of any digital transformation strategy in your business. The potential benefits of business automation are endless. From increasing system security to driving better customer experiences and improving quality of output resulting in reduced costs, automation enables teams to be faster, more agile, and more productive. This means spending less time on repetitive tasks — reducing human error — and spending more time on innovation.
But, as with any technology implementation, automation tools won’t be successful unless they have the right strategic underpinning. With that in mind, here are five steps to creating a successful automation strategy.
Know Your Business Strategy
To buy the right tools, IT needs to understand its problems. To assume that the organization needs automation is a recipe for failure. Decision makers should skip past automation hype and ask, “Does the organization actually need automation, and if so, why?”
Business strategy determines what role automation will play in the business’s plans for achieving those goals and to what extent. For example, “increasing profits by responsibly lowering costs” might be central to the business’s plans for the year, or the goal might be “increasing revenue by sustainably serving more customers.” Automation can play a key role in either pursuit. On the other hand, automation would serve a much narrower role in supporting business strategy if the main goals for the next year or two are focused on acquisitions. IT would probably still want to pursue automation tactically to increase the efficiency of IT and improve employee life, but a broad enterprise automation strategy would probably not be needed and might distract from business strategies.
Identifying Overarching Technology Drivers
The degree to which automation should be a priority for IT is directly dependent on the overarching IT technology vision.Any technology strategy should not just advance the goals of the business but should do it in a way that supports IT leadership’s long-term vision for IT. A new strategy — including an automation strategy — should embody the key principles around which IT is organizing its efforts. If IT is focusing on implementing zero trust in networks, data access, and application use, then any new strategy should embody those principles.
IT leaders, architects, and senior technologists need to define the environment required to achieve their desired goals within the constraints of their technology principles. If there are constraints on specific components — for example, that they must be in the cloud or that they cannot be allowed to be — the architecture should reflect that.
Mind the Gaps; Build the Roadmaps
Next, IT needs to evaluate what is already in place against that desired automation end state. This includes identifying which of the following areas they need to address:
- new technology they need to acquire or existing tools they need to use differently;
- new processes they need to define or where old ones need to be amended;
- new teams or where existing ones need to be reconfigured or repurposed; and
- new necessary skills that staff need, whether acquired through learning or through hiring.
With that set of differences in hand, IT can develop the roadmap for getting from the as-is to the to-be most effectively. In effect, this is the stage where IT defines automation strategy.
Implement the strategy
When a company requires new technologies in order to implement an automation strategy, it should select these tools from a range of options. A consistent evaluation process will ensure that the decision is appropriate for the organization’s needs.A new strategy likely will require changes in process, team structures, staffing and duties. The IT department needs to work within existing human resources and organizational frameworks for accomplishing new tools and should treat them as equal in importance to getting the tools. Staff training—or time for skills acquisition—is crucial where new tools are coming in. Just laying on another tool without making sure it can be used as intended often results in simply adding another layer of capabilities to the stock of shelfware and a failed automation initiative.
Benefits of Process Automation
There are many benefits in business process automation ranging from financial to customer experience. These differ between organizations and should be clearly understood when defining the business goals:
Key Business Areas Transformed Through Automation
To craft an automation strategy that will yield long-term benefits, it’s important to identify business areas where your organization can realize those benefits immediately. Consider these three critical areas as a place to start.
According to a recent customer engagement survey, 88% of consumers anticipate that companies will accelerate their digital initiatives this year. Business leaders must deliver new products and lasting experiences, adjust to changes in the marketplace quickly and make business processes smooth and invisible to customers.
As an example, the retail environment is rapidly changing, as customers demand shorter product life cycles and more customized products. With competitors coming from both online and offline channels, retailers must work to improve their interactions with suppliers.
A composable enterprise relies on a central platform to manage, govern, secure, and offer reusable PBCs. As a result, you will reduce the amount of time needed to perform each task, allowing your teams to become more agile and quickly pivot and respond to shifting customer preferences.
Connected Customer Experience
Customer experiences today look a lot different than they did even two or three years ago. From improved chatbots and virtual assistants to call center knowledge management, today’s automated customer experiences deliver services that are fast, personalized, and effective.
By taking an API-led approach to establishing a composable enterprise and enabling business automation, this will give you the ability to make a more personalized offers and product recommendations — all of which contribute to a more positive and seamless customer experience.
Seamless Employee Experience
Due to the pandemic-induced lockdowns, remote working increased worldwide. Working from home and remote working has become normal now as freelancing breaks the records of past decades. With companies starting their e-commerce journeys, digital marketing and remote working will increase further.
To best serve your remote workforce, routine HR experiences must be automated. With the increased complexity that comes from a dispersed workforce, organizations must find opportunities for effective HR automation so teams can shift their focus from manual documentation to critical employee needs.
Start Building Your Winning Automation Strategy
To create a successful business automation strategy, it is essential to use a holistic integration strategy. So, it is time for CIOs and other IT leaders to consider taking a platform approach to automation that enables both developers and business users to execute automation opportunities through the use of PBCs and via API-led connectivity.
A holistic approach to automation can improve your organization’s customer experience, enhance employee engagement levels, and enable more efficient operations. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, Newflow and Servicely can provide you with an unforgettable automation experience. We can develop and deploy an industry-leading Cloud Platform that will ensure that designing and automating your workflows is a breeze.
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