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Carlos Company Ros | Head of Business Consulting & Digital Strategy | everis Americas

Challenges of Automation

The mindset of organizations needs to change, and a single vision is required to boost actual business goals by means of automation.

Automation has nowadays become one of the main strategies adopted by companies to transform their current business, which is part of an effort to improve efficacy and find new opportunities to generate value. In 2018, 20% (USD 160 M) of global investments in Digital Transformation focused on automation, and in the next 10 years, this market is expected to grow 15% per year, i.e. from 2.8 million installed robots to 11 million worldwide.

Until now, the concept of automation was related to the robotization of repetitive, low-value tasks of high transactionality. In addition, improving process efficiency, reducing operating costs and promoting scalability while maintaining the same resources were also emphasized. However, the evolution of advanced technological solutions, such as artificial intelligence (AI) or big data, provides a new intelligent process automation (IPA) framework that allows to automate more complex tasks through the implementation of predictive analytics and decision engines or even more sophisticated techniques, such as cognitive agents, machine learning or neural networks.

The implementation of automation solutions has yielded significant benefits in terms of operational efficiency and satisfaction of employees and customers:

1) Increased competitiveness and decreased time-to-market due to a 60–80% reduction of process operating times.

2) Increase of savings and reduction of 40–50% of the workforce dedicated to manual and repetitive activities, allowing its relocation to tasks of greater value or even to other company areas where it may be more needed.

3) Elimination of all operational errors made by humans, which maximizes precision, operational quality and cost savings.

4) Stronger linkage and improved service perception by customers, increasing their average satisfaction rate by approximately 20%.

This being said, it should be noted that to implement an automation strategy properly and achieve expected results, companies will face a series of challenges that are not only technological, but also operational and commercial:

• Align interests of different business units and obtain the necessary sponsorship inside the company to justify the commitment to such a strategy.

• Understand that the best approach to understand the actual complexity of automating a process takes place through the development of proof of concept, as it allows to properly estimate the time and resources required for its implementation.

• Develop a solid business case that justifies investments in automation. To achieve that, imagination is required that goes beyond cost savings and workforce reduction and takes into account the potential future increase (business scalability) or improvement in employee productivity, e.g. by eliminating low-value tasks.

• Possess the necessary technical capabilities to deploy automation solutions and integrate them with the company’s systems. To do so, companies should not underestimate implementation risks, but acquire the knowledge they need to ensure their successful development.

• Understand that automation should also serve as a pretext to question the current operating model and transform the status quo of the company. To achieve that, it is key to standardize and document the operational processes as a previous step to any development.

• Define and structure a government model to manage and coordinate automation efforts, as well as to transform company culture by incorporating a new model of human-machine collaboration.

Given that context, everis has developed the concept of “Hybrid Operations”, understood as a strategic approach to exponentially transform operations of any industry with a focus on generating efficiency and improving customer experience through automation technology solutions. In this sense, and to ensure the success of evolution of any organization towards Hybrid Operations, we believe that this process needs to be addressed by a deep reflection based on four pillars:

Liquid processes. Understand the operation of the company as a set of standardized processes that adapt to customer needs by means of flexible business rules.

Integral approach. Transform the partial and limited vision of automation (based on specific functions or activities) into a comprehensive approach that allows understanding processes as adaptive and flexible entities from start to finish throughout the entire customer life cycle.

Combination of technologies. Make use of the synergies offered by the integration of different technologies according to process needs to achieve the highest level of automation.

Bots at the customer service. Understand automation as a possibility of developing multiple solutions aimed at one and the same process that provide personalized experiences to every customer.

All of the above combined in a short, medium and long term automation strategy that allows to solve specific business issues and is based on a proposal to improve the current operation using IPA technology as an enabler and which is supported by a solid business case with a realistic version of the potential expected benefits of automation.

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