The COVID-induced global disruption of the last several months has created a double-sided problem for business leaders: demand destruction and shortage of workforce capacity. Demand destruction has been driven by broad reductions in consumption as people engage in less activity, while businesses reduce spending as a risk mitigation measure against demand uncertainty. These dynamics are serving as extreme constraints to global economic output.
Tomorrow’s capacity is just as "digital" as it is physical
Across many organizations, remote knowledge workers are pressured to focus on mission-critical work that can deliver higher levels of value. There is also a new sense of urgency to meet today’s business challenges, yet lay a foundation for continued success in the long term—and ensure a level of resilience to future business or market disruptions.
The question is, where is the capacity to create new digital model efficiency and digital customer engagement channels going to come from given the constraints of today?
According to a recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Kofax, for the second consecutive year, organizations are making considerable headway automating key front- and back-office operations:
- 58% of organizations have deployed automation technologies to digitize information
- 52% are using it to automate front-desk interaction
- 49% have implemented automation for fulfillment and verification
- 45% use it to perform rules-based tasks
- 44% use automation for business spend management
- 44% automate back-office tasks
- 38% automate decisioning
- 30% use it to automate accounts payable (AP) and orchestrate workflows
However, it’s a delicate balance to achieve—rapidly innovating and responding to the current challenges to meet customers’ demands while keeping costs in check. Forrester also reports in the study that “an unintended consequence of acting quickly to solve the problem at hand is the creation of automation silos.”
Mixing and matching solutions from different vendors can end up doing more harm than good in the long term because the depth of integration is usually lacking; this can be a huge hurdle to realizing the full business benefits of automation. Forty-five percent of Forrester study respondents reported having deployed a patchwork of automation solutions from several vendors. And nearly all (98%) reported that a non-integrated automation approach created challenges such as high technical debt (46%) and delays in successful outcomes (35%).
To date, most organizations have invested in specific technologies like RPA, based on their promise of managing specific tasks like data entry. However, unlocking the ability to scale requires looking at broader processes and operations. This includes people, as well as a combination of complementary technologies that support capture, processing, and manipulation of data.
We are now at a point where many organizations have begun to acknowledge the potential for a combination of complementary technologies to provide digital capacity that empowers people to accomplish work. This is where intelligent automation comes in to digitally transform workflows.
Integrated Intelligent Automation for Digital Workflow Transformation
An intelligent automation platform is unrivaled in its ability to automate tasks and processes as part of a larger workflow, improve employee satisfaction, enhance compliance and drive operational efficiency for organizations:
- Process discovery: Identify automation opportunities from analyzing patterns and tasks, and isolate and remedy potential challenges with compliance or regulatory issues.
- Business process management: Build and run automated processes in collaboration with existing applications and human workers.
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Reliably and efficiently automate repetitive, manual tasks across the enterprise, including through web interfaces and business apps.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning: Understand, classify and extract data including voice, text, chat and images. AI allows you to automatically recognize people and documents, and understand the content and context of communications to make more insightful business decisions.
- Digital workforce management: Govern a growing digital workforce, such as software robots that improve security, compliance, scalability and auditability, as well as a hybrid human-digital workforce to reduce process fragmentation and risk. According to Forrester, 35% of business leaders reported mitigating disruption to automated processes (due to changes in the underlying systems that automation interacts with) as an immediate need.
- Advanced analytics: Measure the impact of intelligent automation across the enterprise and calculate ROI. Improved visibility, process intelligence and insight into customers, employees and business partners help organizations adapt to changing market conditions and customer expectations.
Why Transform your Workflow with a Single Vendor?
A single-vendor approach to automation has considerable appeal. In fact, 99% of Forrester study decision-makers expressed the belief that there would be considerable value in having a single automation vendor and platform (47% very valuable, 20% extremely valuable, 32% valuable).
The benefits of automation can be seen throughout the entire business, both internal and external-facing, positioning the organization to be recognized as an industry leader while navigating today’s challenges—and poised to capitalize on future opportunities. Here are a few of the top benefits:
Enhanced experience for customers: According to the Forrester study, improving the customer experience was the top response (54%) to the question of benefits achieved by adopting a single-vendor automation platform (versus a piecemeal approach). Automation enables your organization to deliver a more personalized customer experience and respond more rapidly to customers’ questions and needs. The result is improved satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.
Improved employee experience: Increased employee productivity (52%) and improved employee experience (43%) were also top Forrester study responses when decision-makers were asked about the benefits of single-vendor automation. Human workers enjoy the more thought-provoking and strategic work that automation allows them. Rather than performing the same tasks day after day, employees can focus on projects that add value to the organization and can spend more time improving the customer experience. Workers get more satisfaction out of their jobs when they can see the added value they bring.
Reduced costs: According to the Forrester study, improved operational efficiency (52%) and reduced operational expenses (41%) were chosen as single-vendor automation benefits by respondents. The intelligent automation of business processes and workflows reduces the time and resources needed to complete manual tasks, and cuts down on the number of errors.
Scalability: According to Forrester, almost half of decision-makers surveyed expressed a desire to expand automation from a single team or department and scale across departments. Automation transforms a manual or complex task into a highly reliable and repeatable process. A collaborative ecosystem of complementary technologies and humans working together generates exponentially better outcomes across the business.
Operational excellence: Better compliance and transparency positions the business to promptly respond to any potential issues; in fact, more than half (51%) or Forrester study respondents said better security and compliance was a benefit achieved by a single-vendor automation approach.
Embracing integrated intelligent automation to digitally transform workflows is a smart approach for executives who want to drive innovation and transform business processes. For the fastest results, it’s recommended to look for an AI-enabled and cloud-enabled digital workflow transformation platform with integrated capabilities (ideally, single-vendor). This provides the smoothest path for organizations to navigate today’s challenges and work like tomorrow, today.