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A success mantra for unlocking the full potential of intelligent automation

Ashwin Yardi

We just celebrated Diwali here in India, a festival of lights and a celebration of the victory of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance. It is a time of exchanging gifts with family and friends. During Diwali, the markets are packed to the rafters. So, to save time and effort, I turned to the internet. As customers, we are used to the ease of browsing the web and quickly choosing what we need. We expect to receive recommendations based on our interests and search data. Shop during the festival of lights and you will inevitably be presented with a whole category of Diwali-appropriate gifts. This seamlessness is not just limited to shopping. The other day, I got stuck during an online banking transaction. But, help was at hand – literally – because all I had to do was to type my query in a chat window and my issue was resolved. As a customer, I was happy. As a technologist, it made me smile because I knew what is powering all of this – intelligent automation.

Intelligent automation is everywhere. Almost every organization, large or small, is working on some initiative leveraging any number of technologies in the realm of automation or AI. The focus of these activities ranges from improving customer service, to cost efficiency, or driving revenue uplift. What is surprising is that even though the benefits are well known, organizations are just scratching the surface and scaled adoption is rare, as found in a recent report by the Capgemini Research Institute.

What’s holding everybody back?

The report concludes that most intelligent automation initiatives strive only to improve quality, and enhance workforce productivity and operational efficiency, while relatively few focus on revenue generation. This trend is also reflected in the type of functions prioritized for intelligent automation. Most activity is centered on back-office and middle-office functions covering IT, procurement, HR operations, finance and accounting, and customer service, while only a fraction is geared toward front office applications covering sales and marketing.

With only 16% of organizations having implemented intelligent automation at scale, I began to wonder about the challenges that are holding the organizations back from implementing a full-scale automation project. It’s noteworthy that only 32% of the organizations have implemented “quick wins” – those use cases that are not only easy to implement but also have a high benefit upside. That’s not a lot considering the progress automation technologies have made over the last few years. Here are some of the reasons businesses are not able to fully exploit automation:

  1. Lack of skilled talent in automation technologies
  2. Resistance to change
  3. Lack of coordination across business units and functional departments to create a complete process view
  4. Inability to demonstrate a clear ROI and business case
  5. Lack of leadership commitment
  6. Fear of cybersecurity.

Intelligent automation – success mantra

Many organizations have achieved automation benefits through effective management, from creating a clear strategy, to deriving the implementation roadmap, engaging business to IT, and ensuring effective skill development. Leading companies have demonstrated that if done well, there is a significant benefit to be gained from intelligent automation. While several organizations have struggled to scale automation benefits, the leaders have defined a clear template to achieve the benefits of intelligent automation:

  1. Define clear transformation strategy and roadmap
    1. Set a clear vision for the organization
    2. Develop a clear roadmap for automation transformation
    3. Build a strong business case
  2. Ensure organization and leadership alignment and change management
    1. Engage business first but bring IT on board early
    2. Ensure processes are optimized before automation
  3. Develop an organization and people skills
    1. Develop skills in automation technologies to enable implementation
    2. Reskill and upskill employees to complement automation. Develop digital talent
    3. Set up dedicated automation teams – initially centralized and then decentralized once scale is reached.

Companies that have successfully implemented automation at scale have saved between 7–12% across functions and an overall ROI of 18%, with 13% across functions and payback in 7–12 months.

At the start of the blog I mentioned that Diwali is also a celebration of the victory of knowledge over ignorance. In our latest Capgemini Research Institute automation use cases report – Reshaping the Future, you can gather all the knowledge and insights you need to unlock automation’s untapped value and to be victorious in your intelligent automation journey. Download a copy today.