“Business as usual” is now an outdated – and potentially risky – operating paradigm. The commercial landscape is constantly shape-shifting as companies fight to remain relevant. This is an ecosystem where customer expectations rule and established players face a constant onslaught of disruptive market entrants.
Today, customers have a world of choices at their fingertips, accessing almost any product or service they need digitally. In order to compete for market share in this context, organisations need to make sure they’re capable of reacting to new demands more nimbly than the competition. Technology is certainly a solution to this business challenge – but with so many technologies to choose from, how do businesses make the right decision?
Powering innovation now and in the future
The Deloitte Digital Disruption Index recently revealed that more executives are planning to invest in new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented and virtual reality,as well as blockchain by 2020. But many of these organisations are not yet in a position where they can harness the full potential of these solutions. The study found that only 16% of executives believe their talent pools have the capabilities to deliver their digital strategies.
While there’s no doubt that these emerging technologies can power industry-shaking innovation, this isn’t an approach that every organisation can afford or is adequately skilled to adopt right now. Waiting years for digital solutions to deliver value is not sustainable in a fast-paced environment.
Perhaps, for these companies, it would be more rewarding to find a technology stack that can deliver digital transformation now, using existing skills, with the ability to scale as new technologies become more accessible. A solution focused on automating business processes can add value in this context.
Automation tools available today can transform laborious, error-prone manual tasks into efficient digital processes. This provides organisations with an opportunity to reduce costs, enhance operational performance and improve compliance with company standards, industry best practice and any relevant legislative rules.
When the process automation system is also able to integrate well with existing technologies, this eliminates the need for enterprises to dismantle their mission-critical legacy systems – providing them with an opportunity to introduce innovation while continuing to derive value from existing software investments.
Automated business process applications are often able to work across a range of systems, which also helps to transform the way that data is managed throughout the enterprise – bridging gaps in previously disconnected data repositories.
Beyond this, what should businesses look for in a process automation platform?
Agility is key
Disruption can occur out of the blue. Some automation platforms provide developers with the tools to rapidly build and deploy digital assets that meet new business opportunities or customer expectations as these arise. When this type of suite offers a low-code environment, where BPA solutions can be built using visual drag and drop tools rather than programming languages, this helps to substantially reduce the application development cycle – allowing for more flexibility when market conditions change.
These types of systems also offer excellent time to value when companies need applications for common use cases, such as expense claims management or employee on-boarding. For these lightweight processes, there are ready-built application components or templates, which can be used to rapidly configure and test process applications within days.
A solution that eases the IT burden
As digital transformation becomes a priority in the enterprise, software engineers are being bogged down by repetitive development work as they race to automate and optimise process after process.
One solution is to give business users a greater role in the design and development of the digital assets they need. This makes good business sense in a context where many employees are growing more digitally-savvy – and they’re able to share ideas on how to use technology to enhance operational performance.
Technologies like low-code automation suites with pre-configured applications – often referred to as app accelerators – enable these users to build and test based on proven, applied technologies that can be adapted to specific business’ needs, with minimal input from IT. Developers, on the other hand, can focus on more complex, higher-value digital transformation projects.
The ability to access actionable insights
Data analytics can help organisations to gain a deeper understanding of what is happening in their markets and within their businesses. Process automation solutions provide data that is ready to use for statistical analysis and reporting, providing the real-time insights that can be used to track performance, identify bottlenecks and drive continual improvement.
Some of these platforms are also agile enough to integrate with advanced, AI-enabled data analytics tools and other intelligent technologies as these become more accessible and relevant to the business down the line.
For any company struggling to find a technology solution that will prove business value at scale, it’s worthwhile seeking the advice of a business optimisation expert. This type of partner can take a vendor agnostic approach to advising organisations on the most strategic technology choices, in line with realistic delivery costs and timescales, as well as future needs.
This article comes courtesy of Arno Van Rooyen, CEO and founder of Velocity IT, the firm consulting, designing and delivering multi-platform solutions to enterprises worldwide. Van Rooyen founded the Velocity IT in 2010 with a vision to bring business process automation within reach of every organisation – whatever their size with the goal of enabling organisations to build a sustainable process automation business capability, to drive business agility and transformation.