“Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.”
– Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Former President of India
“I don’t know about automation in business. I don’t need to know about automation in business. And I definitely don’t need to introduce automation in my business”….
…is not something a smart, future-focused organisation would – or rather, should – say.
And yet, many companies continue to assume that automation in business is not something they currently want or need.
In a world that’s rapidly moving towards digitisation, this kind of erroneous thinking can be dangerously short-sighted, and may even lead to obsolescence.
The Rapid Acceleration of Automation in Business Processes
The past few years have seen rapid development in Business Process Automation (BPA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions. The future of global digital process automation is bright as well, with the market poised to grow from $6.77 billion in 2018 to $12.61 billion by 2023.
For organisations functioning in the modern economy, Business Process Management (BPM) has always been important. BPM enables companies to analyse their “current state”, identify improvement areas, and take action to create a more effective, efficient and profitable organisation. And according to Gartner, BPM is also the key to align Information Technology and Operational Technology investments to business strategy.
Visionary business leaders also recognised the value of Business Process Automation decades ago. But it’s only within the past couple of decades when world-class innovations and technological progress have clarified the true impact of BPA. Another happy development is that falling costs and fewer barriers to adoption are levelling the playing field. This has made it possible for small and large organisations alike to automate key areas of their business successfully and profitably.
Why Business Process Automation
BPA involves the use of technology, digital tools and software to automate business processes and workflows.
If done right, BPA can generate numerous benefits for organisations:
- More efficient and faster processes
- Lower costs
- Reliable, consistent and transparent operations
- Accurate output with minimal errors and rework
Over time, automation in business can generate productivity boosts, not only at the process or workflow level, but also at the workforce level. BPA enables workers to move away from mundane, repetitive tasks, and focus on high-value activities where their talents and skills can be utilised to the max. This can have a huge impact on workforce motivation and engagement, which creates a virtuous cycle of high productivity, enhanced profitability, and competitive advantage for the organisation.
Automation in Business: Looking to the Future
The MuleSoft Connectivity Benchmark Report has identified the top trends that will shape digital transformation in the near future:
- Growth of a digital-ready culture
- Innovation will be democratised
- Enterprises will be composable for greater agility and execution velocity
- API security will assume greater importance
- Microservices will be leveraged to support innovation and scalability
- Data will become foundational to organisational growth
And last but not least, automation will improve business processes, drive operational efficiencies, support innovation, and enable business relevance. On the other side of the spectrum, a lack of automation will create or exacerbate process inefficiencies, and in the worst cases, even lead to business obsolescence.
Clearly, these considerations are driving the rapid adoption of BPA. That’s why:
- 67% of organisations are piloting process automation in one or more business units or functions
- 77% of business leaders are looking to streamline operations via digital transformation led by automation
- 50% of companies are planning to accelerate the automation of repetitive tasks
These current realities raise two important questions for the future:
In the next few years, how many processes that are viable for BPA will still be done manually?
And will organisations still continue with manual processes that waste time and money, and sap their workforce’s energy?
The Right Time to Start with Automation in Business
When is the right time to start with automation in business?
Best answer – yesterday!
Feasible answer – as soon as possible!
BPA and RPA are already impacting the workplace in numerous positive ways. For example, workflow automation platforms enable organisations to automate repetitive tasks to save time and achieve economies of scale. Tools are also available to automate every kind of process, from file transfers and order entries, to report generation, email marketing, event log monitoring, batch processing, and more. Even customer-facing processes like support are being automated with conversational AI chatbots, voicebots and voice assistants.
The BPA landscape is pretty vast already, and it’s only going to get bigger over the coming years. And organisations that recognise this now will be in a better position to garner all the benefits of automation in business in future – and then some!
So here the question is: will your organisation be part of this success club?
The simple truth is that when it comes to process automation, you simply don’t have any time to waste. If your business continues with manual processes and continues to tolerate the inefficiencies thus created for even 2-3 years, you will fall behind. However, your competitors who recognise the value of BPA, and create the right BPA implementation strategies and roadmap will soon zoom ahead of you.
That’s why you need to update your business plan around BPA adoption sooner, rather than later. Moreover, the plan must be built around BPA, not the other way around.
Here’s some good news: Even if your existing manual processes are inefficient; your organisation can still ensure business continuity, competitiveness and growth – if you have a BPA plan in place. But if BPA is not on your radar yet – and is unlikely to be on your radar in the foreseeable future – then you’re already fighting a losing battle that may end in business failure.
Don’t make this mistake (or any automation mistakes for that matter!). Start thinking about BPA, if not yesterday, then at least as soon as possible. Your organisation’s future may depend on it.
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