Five rules to building a future-proof automation strategy

Automation is a continuous process, and companies must be clear about what they would like for it to achieve

Updated: Oct 7, 2019 03:22:36 PM UTC

Santhosh Unni is Digital Transformation Services Head – EMEA at Infosys BPM.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

The recent discussion between Elon Musk and Jack Ma has certainly stirred up another round of debate around AI and Automation. Automation, AI and Big Data platforms are being endorsed by organisations, and investments have gone into millions. In fact, it has been estimated that by 2020 almost 40 percent of basic accounting work will be eliminated by Robotics. Automation in many interesting ways has been explored and implemented to bring ease and precision in our routine jobs.

CXOs from diverse business segments are gearing up to implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and other emerging digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Businesses are going digital to stay relevant and competitive within a connected world.

The idea is to blend-in these technologies within their diverse business processes to enhance cost effectiveness and drive efficiency across the organisation.

While RPA and Automation have gone further beyond conceptualisation, there have been questions around their implementation and effectiveness. Approximately 50 percent of initial automation projects or pilots are still tagged as unsuccessful based on their targeted goals.

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Based on my extensive interaction with customers and our internal stakeholders in the last couple of years, here are some of the key aspects to pump up the stakeholder Happiness Quotient with automation projects. Define your clear business goals from automation
It is essential for organisations to define what they need to achieve with automation, as automation is not always about saving the dollar. I have come across multiple customers who intend to enhance customer experience; some want to minimise mundane activities for their team members for better employee satisfaction.

Choose the right process for automation
The right process sets the tone for the future automation activities and instills confidence within all stakeholders.

For instance, use of process mining and discovery tool is always a good solution for selecting the process. While it is a good starting point, it is important to analyse the data with a domain and operations perspective to lay out the automation strategy.

Set the right comparative metrics
Generalisations might not work; creating your own standards is imperative. For instance, having a Chabot answer consumer queries on an ecommerce site might reduce customer queries significantly, but the same automation platform might not work for a B2B business scenario.

100-percent automation might not be possible
It’s tempting for businesses to consider processes with 100 percent end-to-end automation. However, the efforts should be towards tackling direct cases with automation rather than handling all exceptions. The exceptions can be managed and integrated within the process over time and with consistent efforts.

Automation is a continuous process
New re-engineering opportunities will crop up, fresh chances to automate crucial exceptions will be identified. Hence, it is important to keep a close watch on existing opportunities to deploy automation.

As we address various opportunities for automation, there will be a time when the process identification for automation will reverse and we will start looking for activities that require human intervention.

The writer is Digital Transformation Services Head – EMEA at Infosys BPM.

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