The rise of digital process automation

There is a strong shift to accelerating automation for cost optimisation and digital governance, as digital process automation grows in stature.

(First published on ITWeb – 23 March, 2021)

Companies are finding a faster way to resolve cost optimisation through business automation – by leveraging digital process automation as a service.

Digital process automation (DPA) has grown in stature over the past year, as the pandemic has called for many to review their IT budgets and align with the demands for accelerated flexibility and remote work offerings from line of business leaders.

DPA helps companies create completely automated process solutions. With the right digital process automation, applications replace human or manual requirements to manage processes and digital workflow.

In the current digital business era, the need to quickly respond to customer expectations and the actions of determined rivals demands a persistent transformative approach – one that discovers and automates efficiencies, crafts intuitive user experiences, and intelligently adapts when needed. These essential technologies are helping to better engage customers, continuously improve and adapt operations, and support new business models.

Switching to a DPA service offering allays any fears of long-term licensing and upgrade requirements, integration complications and searching for skilled developers who can manage and integrate business requirements. It provides the technology, skills and support required, at a set monthly rate and considerable cost savings. Customers no longer need to make expensive investments in tools, skills or licence maintenance to realise returns.

Many are seeking immediate solutions in the current trading environment. While employers want to use automation to improve human performance and productivity, research shows 73% of the workforce believes technology cannot fully replace the human mind.

That said, automation has often been a lengthy process, complicated by the need to orchestrate change throughout the business. By employing DPA as a service, some are avoiding the hassle of identifying the right technology or knowing the coding intricacies to automate their specific workflow process.

Improving access to data elevates the level of intelligent automation and maximises the benefits in transforming an organisation’s business operations.

In short, they are outsourcing the challenge and reaping the cost saving benefits.

Compounding this acceleration, heads of department have shifted in influence, and are now calling for change. They want to optimise and respond quickly in the changing business environment. Being able to offer business-driven solutions greatly assists in implemented efficiencies through automation at speed.

Other key demands they have are:

  • Enhanced digital experiences across customer, employee and supplier environments.
  • Alignment of LOB and IT budgets to business strategy.
  • Fixed monthly expenses, removing any capex liabilities and freeing up infrastructure and storage resource.
  • Immediate access to skilled professionals for support and technical expertise.
  • Ability to integrate securely for governance.

This accelerated demand has one potential point of failure. With speed comes the likely event of overlooking legacy or seemingly burdensome governance or compliance requirements.

Corporate and IT governance requirements can stand in the way. This is one of the areas where line of business leaders and IT governance must come together to prevent these hurdles. It is imperative that pre-determined IT governance principles and line of business automation requirements are aligned and don’t slow the continuous improvement process.

By considering security levels and adhering to corporate IT governance principles, workflow automation can actually assist in driving work efficiencies and enhance organisational security levels.

When security and data sovereignty is top priority, integrating automation initiatives can be challenging. Choosing an automation platform that will meet enterprise security and governance standards is paramount. 

In a survey conducted by Forrester last year, just under half of respondents said they plan to up their automation investments in the coming year to increase agility, resilience and efficiency.

Many organisations require safeguards to be put in place to prevent process changes being made, or new processes being implemented without following an internal approval. Workflow automation platforms can be used to sort, move and set permissions requirements on files, on a regular basis, without the need for intervention. When used to aid finance and HR departments, for example, administrators can safely access, update and store sensitive financial and employee data using a secure platform.

This level of automation helps ensure confidential employee and client information cannot be seen and accessed by unauthorised individuals.

It’s important that service providers form collaborative partnerships with business and IT, to help align governance and/or security requirements for automation integration. Workflow automation platforms can in fact be used to assist in this process.

Forrester alludes to this in its report, mentioning that the growth in the robotic process automation (RPA) market will be propelled by a need to establish governance and operating models around RPA platforms. Interestingly, it calls out that the services-to-licence ratio will be 3.2 to 1, denoting the importance of service providers and partnerships in the forecast growth.

Improving access to data elevates the level of intelligent automation and maximises the benefits in transforming an organisation’s business operations. The more structured data is available, the more valuable these systems become.

Handling this as a service, and keeping security and governance controls in place, is a fast route to cost optimisation, safely.