Most organizations are on a path to digital transformation. This means they’re spearheading initiatives to elevate operations for improved business outcomes via smarter decisions, increased efficiency and improved agility.
However, digital transformation looks different for every company. Some are keeping pace with the integration of digital technology to support growth. But others are lagging, unsure how to prioritize their next steps.
Without a doubt, COVID-19 has reshaped the digital transformation agenda. And digital process automation (DPA) is being moved up the priority list in an effort to build resilience, customer engagement and profitability through automation.
There’s a lot at stake, with organizations battling for customer loyalty, ramping up supply chains after shutdowns and trying to maximize productivity amid remote and downsized workforces.
Here are five ways to harness the potential of DPA as part of a comprehensive information management strategy, highlighting responses from industry peers based on the AIIM (Association for Intelligent Information Management) survey, “You’re Working Too Hard—Using Intelligent Automation to Save Time, Money and Effort.
1. Get real about information sprawl
Enterprise information can be a competitive advantage if it is managed, accessed and used to best support the business. Yet getting an accurate information roadmap can be challenging—particularly with organizations expecting information volumes to more than quadruple within two years. In addition, more than 60 percent of that sprawl is expected to be unstructured or semi-structured information. That raises the risk of information chaos exceeding existing information management capabilities.
2. Tackle content chaos
To use data to digitally transform and build a resilient business, information must first be unlocked, as it’s the engine that drives automated processes. In the AIIM survey, 54 percent of respondents said the information needed within a particular business application is stored within the application itself, rather than within a dedicated content repository. The lack of information integration and access means that content lacks context: 75 percent of organizations say they have problems managing the documents and content needed for process workers to do their jobs. Siloed processes and standalone content repositories must be addressed, as they handcuff digital transformation efforts. This, in turn, hinders employee productivity and customer experiences.
3. Give an honest assessment of automation
It’s important to start with a realistic assessment by breaking down key processes to determine current degrees of automation within the organization. Two-thirds of organizations report that core back-end processes are less than 50 percent automated. So there is room for improvement across most critical business applications, processes and workflows. Comprehensive automation remains elusive for most, with very few organizations reporting full automation for records management (9%), compliance and reporting (9%), customer onboarding and servicing (7%), human resources (7%), logistics (6%), eDiscovery and legal (6 percent), facilities management and maintenance (5%) and supplier contracts and procurement (5%).
4. Don’t ignore the warning signs
To determine where to start or evolve with DPA, take a long look at processes and workflows that touch customer experiences. This will help to identify pain points and prioritize where intelligent automation will make the most impact. Look for issues around efficiency, flexibility and effectiveness. For example, are there unnecessary steps in the process, such as asking for data that isn’t needed? Are there smooth transitions between tasks, or are there gaps where manual intervention is needed? Are there bottlenecks where progress slows down? Do employees have the information necessary to determine the next best action to take? Can customers get what they need and conduct business digitally? Are there standards in place to enforce consistency across employees?
5. Think big and broad with benefits
Cost savings are often cited as a primary driver of digital transformation. But the strategic benefits of DPA are much broader: they address top C-level priorities around engaging, winning and keeping customers. Organizations say the top three drivers for undertaking process automation projects are improving data quality (53%), reducing manual errors (51%) and improving customer service (43%). When organizations re-engineer processes and workflows around customer needs and increase process transparency and accountability, the benefits of cost and time savings are clear. So are the benefits of improved customer and employee experiences, decreased risk and accelerated business insight and execution.