The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for speed, agility and resilience within organizations’ operational and resourcing models. Businesses have had to adapt their entire go-to-market strategies in a matter of days and weeks, whilst at the same time shifting to a remote workforce, almost overnight.
But while the scale of the disruption that such a pandemic would cause to businesses and the economy was almost unimaginable at the turn of the year, there was already a growing realization that business speed and agility is critical to success in the 2020 economy.
COVID-19 has simply magnified the need for businesses to be able to respond effectively to a dynamic and uncertain marketplace, where change is the norm.
ABSORBING THE COST OF BUSINESS SPEED AND AGILITY
For finance leaders, there is also a broad understanding that organizations now need to be able to absorb the costs associated with adapting to constantly fluctuating customer demands and pursuing new opportunities at a moment’s notice.
The circumstances which have caused organizations to transform their entire operational, commercial and resourcing models in response to COVID-19 are truly exceptional; however, the speed at which they have needed to do so will soon become commonplace.
Across the board, stakeholders are re-setting their expectations for financial models which can absorb shocks and rapid changes to organizational models. No allowances are made for unforeseen circumstances, no time is allowed for businesses to get their houses back in order, customers, shareholders and influencers expect organizations, and in particular their finance leaders, to be able to ride the storm, with little no financial impact.
THE ROI QUESTION IN AUTOMATION
The COVID-19 pandemic has proved the benefits that a digital workforce can deliver in helping organizations respond and adapt to seismic shocks. Businesses that have been able to scale up their use of digital labor to meet fluctuating demand, roll out new services and ensure first-class customer experience have been far better placed than organizations that didn’t have automation technology in place. This has been the story across all sectors,
from financial services and energy to retail and healthcare.
However, whilst most organizations can point to anecdotal operational benefits from their automation programs, many still struggle to calculate or demonstrate any meaningful financial ROI figures. This is particularly true where the digital workforce is delivered through an on-premise or legacy technology platform. The time to ROI can be too long and the real value too opaque to generate buy-in and support from shareholders and investors.
INTELLIGENT AUTOMATION AND FASTER ROI
Importantly, the shift to Intelligent Automation, where an intelligent AI-enabled digital workforce is delivered through the cloud, is allowing businesses to achieve more value and benefits from their automation programs, far more quickly.
By completely removing any need for capital expenditure on the infrastructure and resources required to build and maintain a digital workforce, a cloud-based opex model provides businesses with a much simpler and cost-effective route to scaling the benefits of automation across the organization. And finance leaders have full control, visibility and flexibility on the costs involved.
In this way, Intelligent Automation is transforming the benchmarks for operational performance and its associated financial metrics. By deploying a pool of digital workers straight from the cloud, resources can be scaled up or down dynamically in line with business volumes. And because there is no delay in bringing additional AI-skilled digital workers onboard, the time to ROI on new process automation is drastically reduced compared to traditional automation delivery models.
EMBRACING NEW ORGANIZATIONAL COST MODELS
In the wake of COVID-19, there is likely to be a steep acceleration in adoption of automation technologies, as business leaders look to embed speed, agility and resilience into their operations. Whilst some companies will be looking to begin their automation journey, others will be looking to rapidly scale their use of Intelligent Automation across the organization as a whole.
This hybrid workforce, where human workers operate alongside AI-enabled digital workers, is completely changing organizational cost models. Existing staff are freed up from repetitive and mundane tasks to focus on more strategic, high value work which can drive the business forward. And a cloud-based digital workforce can be deployed, wherever and whenever needed, to streamline processes, deliver efficiencies, enhance customer experience and, crucially, provide operational agility at scale.
As this happens, resourcing models start to change, with far greater control and flexibility on costs for finance leaders. Businesses are able to do far more with the same headcount and operating cost base; they can respond immediately to new threats and opportunities, without any delays due to resourcing needs. They can pursue exciting new ventures that simply wouldn’t be possible with a traditional resourcing model, prohibited by the cost and time involved in bringing in the required resources.
As finance leaders look beyond the immediate aftermath and requirements of COVID-19 and plot a path back to growth in a highly uncertain and turbulent economy, they must ensure the embed speed and agility into their operations. At the same time they will need to closely manage cost and ensure that they are getting maximum ROI on all spending.
Intelligent Automation is without doubt a potential game changer for organizations across all sectors, providing the dynamic and scalable resources they need to respond to a rapidly evolving marketplace over the coming years.