A significant majority of your peers (90%) agree that intelligent automation will help them overcome post-COVID business challenges, such as workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions, controlling costs, boosting revenue and maintaining a competitive advantage. That’s according to the 2022 Intelligent Automation Benchmark Study by software provider Kofax.
But where you, your fellow C-suite leaders and other pivotal stakeholders may not be seeing eye to eye is where to start deploying automation in your business. Here’s some data that can help bring your top-priority areas into focus.
In the survey, 800 business leaders in 21 different industries identified the high-value workflows they believe are ready to be automated:
- Accounts payable (85%)
- Transaction processing (84%)
- Bank statement processing (83%)
- Document security management (83%)
- Invoice automation (82%)
- Onboarding (78%)
- Digital mailroom (77%), and
- Claims processing (77%).
It’s worth noting how many Finance functions are at the top of that list. Automation saves time and increases accuracy by reducing the risk of human error and payment errors, such as duplicate or fraudulent payments. It allows invoices, receipts and bank statements to be immediately listed and stored in a cloud database, making them easier to track.
Driving the shift to automation
More than 90% of your peers say the chief driver behind pursuing automation is improving customer relationships – acquiring them, keeping them and engaging them. Call forwarding systems, chatbots, customer portals and centralized staff ticket management systems are some examples of valuable applications.
Also at the top of company wish lists when it comes to digital business transformation are:
- Running the business/streamlining operations (93%)
- Maximizing the value of IT investments/getting the most out of our existing tech (93%)
- Ensuring compliance, data management and security/making better decisions from documents and data (83%)
- Enhancing employee productivity and satisfaction (82%), and
- Transforming back-end office operations (77%).
However, an understandable concern with automating workflows is what if the major shift away from business as usual is too difficult to manage at scale – particularly with a dispersed hybrid workforce?
“The intelligent automation platform can’t be a closed system. It has to work with all of a company’s key systems,” Kofax Chief Strategy Officer Chris Huff commented in the survey.
To keep a smooth data flow to support key processes, it’s going to take strong links between your various systems, data and applications that need to work side-by-side. Some of the most commonly-cited applications that surveyed executives said must be connected include:
- Customer-facing applications (96%)
- Business intelligence systems (95%)
- Enterprise business applications (95%), and
- Information systems (90%).
It’s also going to require data intelligence of some kind to collect, analyze, extract and classify large amounts of information from the web (e.g., pricing data, product info), your internal systems (e.g., customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning [ERP] systems, and spreadsheets) and documents (e.g., invoices, forms, applications, customer claims), and then apply it all to your firm’s automation needs.
Then, once an automated system is up and running without any hiccups, what kind of ongoing orchestration of automated processes will be needed to keep systems running smoothly, especially if the rules that govern your industry are subject to change? Your fellow executives said their key processes will require ongoing updates to:
- ensure smooth, efficient and impactful organization among employees, robotic workforce, systems and data (96%)
- ensure the process is compliant with a code or regulation (95%), and
- accommodate updates to a process when business requirements change (95%).
It’s going to be up to the automation software vendors to demonstrate and break down in an easily understandable way how their product’s integration, data intelligence and upkeep processes will fulfill your needs.
Shopping for solutions
After huddling up with your tech team for recommendations on solutions to automate key processes, and conducting an informal internal audit to determine the most reasonable options based on your budget and needs, you’ll need to decide if an end-to-end platform or multiple targeted solutions make the most sense.
To make an informed choice between your automation finalists, the experts at the Carson Group capital market company came up with some questions for discovering who has the edge.
Ask the vendors if their tech solution:
- is being used by other companies in your specific industry
- needs a short time or lot of time to install
- is updated regularly. How will you be notified about updates?
- is backed by a support team. What are the service standards, including maximum response time?
- has an outline you can review of the vendor’s plan of action for how the product or solution will evolve over time
- has a service-level agreement
- has a security review process. What is the data security policy? Where is the data hosted?
- has an open application programming interface (API) for integrating with your other systems. What type of API is it (Rest, SAML, etc.)? What’s the process for providing API access? Is the API bidirectional? What outside API integrations are currently offered?
- has a process for adding new features and API endpoints
- provides data conversion as a service, and
- can be customized for any special needs that you have.