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The missing link in intelligent automation

Marek Sowa
Oct 05, 2023

New ways of working and embedding organizational change management drives AI and automation success.

According to Prosci, the business consultancy, organizational change management (OCM) comprises “the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve a required business outcome.” Despite this impressive definition, OCM does not get the critical recognition it deserves as a driver of value. In fact, in many organizations it’s often confused with internal employee communication.

Little wonder, then, that projects continue to fail to achieve the adoption levels that are essential to meeting targets for return on investment (ROI).

How can OCM help?

OCM can help meet innovation and transformation objectives by focusing on critical aspects of the people side of change, instead of facilitating communication and training alone. Those aspects may include the creation of the change vision, which comprises making a practical case for change, effective stakeholder management, transformation scaling, and an approach to roll-out that reinforces positive change. Part of this vision addresses the WIIFM – the employee’s “what’s in it for me?” – and is the beginning of achieving buy-in, continuous use, and ROI. It’s the most often overlooked component of many change management projects.

How change is embedded across many silos in an organization is very important. In the context of artificial intelligence (AI), it’s less about introducing new tools and software, and more about changing the way everyone thinks, operates, and does business. Mere excitement for the new technology will not win people over. Automation anxiety (the fear that machines will soon replace people and take their jobs away from them) might distract them from the benefits that change can bring to them, and how it’s impacting clients.

Organizations need to make sure they frame and sell AI as an evolution of something that employees are doing already, not merely as “just the next logical step,” but as a reinvention of the whole process. Instead of throwing out what’s familiar to people, employers should reassure them that the new technology adds to their existing capabilities, and that it allows them to fulfill their true potential – which is something that is not automatable.

Overcoming barriers by giving people agency

Intelligent process automation (IPA) is often seen as complex, or threatening, or both. Resistance to change within organizations is therefore not surprising. What’s more, a Capgemini study has shown that IPA implementations are rarely deployed in full or at scale. The common barriers to adoption are shown in the graphic below.

The common barriers to adoption are shown in the graphic
The common barriers to adoption are shown in the graphic

OCM can help to remove many of these barriers by effectively addressing the people side of change.

Successfully deployed OCM empowers employees across organizations to improve and refine the new solution continually – which can stimulate revenue growth and secure ROI. People need to be both aware of how the new solution is changing their work and that they are active in driving it – and that, as a result, they are actively making the organization a powerhouse for continuous innovation.

Critical success factors for OCM

OCM is effective first, when it factors in all the areas and people in the organization that will be affected by the project, directly and indirectly; and second, when it includes steps to minimize any negative impacts of the change.

To make sure the new automation solutions will be implemented successfully across the organization and that employees will actually use them, companies should follow change management best practice, especially on the people side of the business.

But what does best practice look like? Here are some examples:

  • Integrated OCM – OCM will be most effective when it is integrated with project management, and when it is included right from the planning/defining phase
  • Active and visible sponsorship – organizations should provide executive leadership and change sponsorship in creating new but safe environments for employees to get used to new tools and learn different practices. Throughout the project, leaders should make it a top priority to demonstrate their commitment to the transformation process, to reward risk-taking, and to incorporate new behaviors into the day-to-day operations of the organization
  • A tailored case for change – businesses should make the new solution desirable and relevant for their employees by presenting the big picture, outlining the organization’s goals, and illustrating how the solution will help achieve them. In other words, for each stakeholder group, the case for change needs to be given, and the “What’s in it for me?” question needs to be answered. Wherever possible, it’s best to use overwhelming evidence, including real data, compelling stories, and a clear vision.

The transformation of work may be enabled by technology, but it relies on people. More specifically, it depends on people not just changing, but wanting to change.

Steps such as those outlined above help not only with acceptance and adoption; they also make a significant difference to the bottom line.

This article is published in the new edition of our Innovation Nation magazine. Read more from our special feature on “Automation and the data-powered organization” and download the full magazine.

Meet our expert

Marek Sowa

Data & AI for Enterprise Management leader
Marek Sowa is head of Capgemini’s Intelligent Automation Offering & Innovation focused on adopting AI technologies into business services. He leverages the potential hidden in deep and machine learning to increase the speed, accuracy, and automation of processes. This helps clients to transform their business operations leveraging the combined power of AI and RPA to create working solutions that deliver real business value.