3 Ways To Build an Automation Program That Offers Lasting Value


Not all automation deployments are treated equally. Bobby Patrick, chief marketing officer at UiPath,  discusses how companies can maximize the return on automation investments.

There’s a lot of chatter about how automation can help drive business productivity and performance amid the chaotic and turbulent environments we find ourselves in. Automation is lauded as a proven solution for executing tedious and time-consuming processes like data entry, thereby enabling employees to focus on creative work that propels productivity and innovation. However, despite such promise, many organizations struggle to derive sustained value from automationOpens a new window efforts following initial deployments.

To make a tangible difference in organizational performance, companies need to approach automation with great consideration — selecting a dynamic, adaptable software program and implementing it strategically across the organization. Here’s more on how organizations can drive enduring organizational value from automation investments.

1. Be Strategic From the Start

Successful automation programs require strategic planning—namely, selecting automation solutions tailored to an organization’s specific workflows instead of ones with generic applications. While it may sound obvious, automations that don’t serve a function explicitly related to a company’s objectives won’t yield significant ROI. 

Instead, organizations should first consider their desired outcomes from automating, and reverse engineer which automations can service those goals. There are exponential applications for automation software (e.g., assisting retailers with invoice and return processing, disseminating test results across hospital networks so providers can spend more time tending to patients), meaning companies have the opportunity to create and deploy solutions that directly map to their unique business models.

Learn More: The Rising Importance of IoT Devices in Healthcare

2. Enhance Automation With AI To Unlock Its Full Potential

While these initial automations prove their value by saving employees a lot of time, they can be enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI) to perform increasingly strategic work that guides employees towards more insightful business decisions. AI equips software robots with decision-making capabilities to interact with data in complex processes without the need for employee involvement, who can instead focus on those areas of business that demand human attention. 

The difference in bot complexity can be witnessed at Heritage BankOpens a new window , who, under pressure by regulators to thoroughly investigate living expense reports when assessing loans, first deployed software robots to sift through data, locate specific types of transactions and quickly classify them. 

The bots created were capable of classifying approximately 40 to 50% of transactions—a level of productivity far below what Heritage needed to meet expectations. To automate loan assessment on a much grander scale, Heritage applied AI capabilities to their existing software, which enabled them to automate closer to 90% of their data mining transactions.

In another instance, the global digital marketing communications agency DentsuOpens a new window found itself tasked with extracting and migrating ten years’ worth of client data—which equated to millions of documents. They wanted a more efficient solution than hiring numerous temporary employees to execute hundreds of thousands of hours of work. 

Because they already had an AI-integrated automation system, they had the infrastructure for developing a program that could intelligently analyze files and organize them based on their specific content. The organization was thereby able to complete a project that could have taken upwards of a year in only six weeks, with 100% accuracy. 

In addition to increasing productivity, automations equipped with AI—specifically, machine learning—helps fuel an evolving automation system. As today’s companies are well aware, business priorities can change rapidly. Therefore, organizations need automation systems that can quickly scale beyond their initial functions to address new and pressing needs. 

Software robots with machine learning capabilities can discover new automation opportunities by analyzing employee workflow data to identify operational patterns (e.g., repetitive tasks that delay progress and result in bottlenecks) and scientifically suggest areas that could be automated next. 

Learn More: A Case for Modernizing and Optimizing Legacy Platforms

3. Include Employees in Automation Efforts

While AI and machine learning are important integrations, automation initiatives extend beyond the software itself. To unlock automation at scale and produce enterprise-wide value, employees need to help drive their growth and implementation, not just executives. 

Because automation excels when applied to those processes that unnecessarily monopolize employee attention, employees are well-positioned for discerning, which areas of business would benefit from automation. 

Once employees are primed on automation and grow comfortable actioning it within their daily workflows, they can be creative in conceptualizing new uses for the software, which they can suggest to internal automation teams to develop and roll out. Additionally, with proper training, employees can even develop their own automations, thereby accelerating digital transformation across the enterprise.

Automation software promises resounding benefits to organizations that implement it, but they aren’t one-size-fits-all. Single-function applications will quickly lose their appeal, so organizations need to invest in automation software that’s scalable to execute increasingly complex tasks and thereby able to expand the scope of the program as a whole. 

Enhancing bots with AI and machine learning and allowing employees to further push organizational automation initiatives are critical pieces in making a tangible difference with automation. 

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