Across all industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how effective a digital workforce can be in helping organizations respond and adapt to sudden and dramatic changes. Those organizations that have been able to scale up their use of digital labor to meet fluctuating demand, deliver new services and support their human workforces have enjoyed a marked advantage over those businesses that had not invested in automation.
Indeed, as businesses start to look beyond COVID-19 and develop plans to operate and thrive in a very different economic landscape, there is likely to be heightened demand for automation. Many organizations that haven’t had a digital workforce to lean on during the crisis will undoubtedly want to make sure that they can in the future.
For those organizations that did already have some form of automation technology in place before the crisis, the following months will be time to review how they responded to COVID-19 and question how their use of digital labor could have been improved or optimized.
At Blue Prism we’ve seen a wide range of clients across different sectors, from financial services and energy to retail and healthcare, deploy digital workers to adapt their internal and external processes, maintain first-class levels of customer experience and take advantage of new opportunities. You can read more about those here.
AUTOMATION IS NOT ENOUGH – YOU NEED SPEED
The pandemic has highlighted that speed and agility are capabilities separating those businesses that are thriving from those that have run into difficulty in what has fast become a digital-first economy.
Our white paper, ‘The Fastest Business Wins’, explores the importance of operational speed and agility, not just in response to COVID-19 but as part of business as usual operations. Such is the dynamic nature of the 2020 economy, organizations have to be able to perform whilst managing and embracing constant change.
In such an environment, it’s not simply enough to be able to automate processes in a traditional way, going through long-winded scoping, analyzing and planning, building a proof of concept, testing it, refining it and finally rolling out and automation.
Businesses in 2020 need to automate fast, scale fast and transform fast.
HOW THE CLOUD CAN ACCELERATE AUTOMATION
COVID-19 has shone a light on the need for greater speed within process automation. When responding to such massive change, where entire workforces have had to switch to remote working overnight and go-to-market strategies were re-imagined in a matter of days, organizations needed to dramatically scale their digital workforces in an instant.
Automation leaders weren’t being asked to deliver one or two new process automations at a time; isolated pockets of operational improvement simply weren’t enough. This was about using digital workers to deliver wholesale digital transformation programs at a scale and on a schedule not seen before.
This is where cloud-enabled Intelligent Automation has made such a massive difference. By deploying digital workers through the cloud, automation leaders have been able to underpin rapid shifts in operational demand and deliver end to end automation of processes and workflows which deliver maximum value to the business.
For so many organizations, cloud computing has been critical. For example, Phil Jordan, CIO of Sainsbury’s, claimed that ‘cloud technology has been the critical enabler to pivot the business from physical to online as part of its response to restrictions brought about by COVID-19’.
FAST AND SEAMLESS SCALING OF DIGITAL WORKERS
For automation and technology leaders, deploying a cloud-enabled, ‘as a service’ digital workforce, eliminates the need for capital expenditure, something which can often slow down an enterprise-wide Intelligent Automation program. This means there is a much faster and more direct route to demonstrate tangible ROI and a smooth path to scaling deployment of digital workers across the enterprise in line with business volumes.
In addition, when cloud-based digital workers have a wide range of pre-integrated AI and cognitive skills, they can easily be deployed across a wide and diverse range of use cases. As a result, they make the breadth of automation possible exponentially wider. Alongside this, automation leaders also have access to a comprehensive automation life-cycle tool-set which ensures they can easily and effectively manage a growing family of digital workers; they don’t need to employ a team of people to simply monitor and optimize the use of digital workers.
AUTOMATION AT SPEED IN A POST-COVID ECONOMY
As businesses shift their thinking from the immediate priority of adapting to and surviving COVID-19, moving from the ‘Now’ to the ‘Next’ , automation leaders will undoubtedly be reviewing the effectiveness of their automation strategies when placed under the greatest amount of strain. And many will be recognizing the need for improvements – whether that is the need for more or different skills within the organization, greater understanding and buy-in from both management and the wider workforce, or more budget and autonomy to deliver what is needed in such scenarios.
More than anything, automation leaders will reflect on whether their automation platform delivered the speed they needed at the outset of the pandemic, when they were being asked to scale up their use of digital workers and deliver massive change and transformation almost overnight. Unfortunately, many won’t be satisfied with how their automation performed.
In many cases, automation leaders will now be recognizing the huge benefits of deploying a cloud-based Intelligent Automation platform that can be extended quickly and seamlessly across the organization, whilst maintaining control on cost, utilization and complexity.
As a recent KPMG paper stated: ‘As the new reality emerges, organizations will need to continue to build a digital backbone using cloud-native solutions, anywhere connectivity, hybrid multi-cloud architectures, and an automated and secure delivery chain with the speed and flexibility to meet rapidly evolving business needs.’
IS CLOUD IS THE ANSWER TO THE BIG AUTOMATION QUESTIONS?
Looking to the future, and the need to adapt to a new economy where change is the norm, perhaps there are four questions that automation leaders should be asking themselves at this moment in time:
- How can I secure the budget and resources to extend our automation work and deployment of digital labor into other parts of our business?
- How can I achieve this without losing control of what we are doing?
- How can I improve the way in which we report our achievements to business stakeholders?
- How can I remove complexity from the automation program?
The answer to each of these questions undoubtedly lies in a move towards a cloud-delivered automation program.
Blue Prism is the only Intelligent Automation platform on the market that offers the level of breadth and reach required in such a highly volatile economic environment.
And so, as organizations now turn their attention to recovery and growth, Blue Prism’s Intelligent Automation platform offers an opportunity to put intelligent digital labor at the heart of their future strategy. This digital workforce will not only deliver efficiencies, productivity and business transformation; it will also give them the speed, agility and dynamism to compete and thrive in an uncertain and rapidly evolving economy.