Organizations everywhere are facing disruption. We’ve entered full steam into the age of the customer; growing expectations, new digital capabilities and increasing demands from employees to have more flexibility in how they work require major changes in how enterprises run their businesses. The disruption for IT is great, but there are ways you can move forward without throwing away everything you’ve built so far.
Our series on business transformation for CIOs covers what you need to know to take advantage of process automation to transform your business.
Reimagining Process Automation
Traditional process automation focused on eliminating variation and driving internal improvements often through the automating of as many tasks as possible. It took an inside-out approach that identified how the process needed to work to support the business itself.
Today, Gartner says that process automation focuses on providing “freedom within a box.” It requires enterprises to rethink their idea of “process,” moving it from a back office management tool to the front office where employees have the ability to dynamically adjust how a process, and its activities operate to meet the current situation. The focus now shifts from inside-out to outside-in and supporting the needs of the customer.
“The dynamics of digital business necessitate an enterprise’s most adaptable resource — its people — to easily consume systematized capabilities and the best information available in the moment to dynamically orchestrate their interactions with peers, customers, partners and so on. Process becomes less about automation and more about the dynamic orchestration of human, machine and information resource interactions to deliver an optimal outcome.” (Gartner page 7)
One way we see this evolution happening is in the creation of process-driven applications. Case management is a perfect example of process automation that includes both automated and flexible, agile activities that adapt to the current situation and customer.
Incident management is a perfect example for this kind of automation. Identifying the existence of an issue is usually a very structured entry point, and the closure of the problem is also very well defined. But what happens in the middle is much more complex to envision and thereby harder to model in advance.
The right business process automation platform will allow you to model the expected milestone (identification, assessment, resolving, confirming solution and closing) with the right service level agreement protocols in place. But it will also allow those in charge of executing the actual tasks to create new activities, collaborate and trigger new specialized processes as needed.
All this unpredicted activity leaves trails and results that will coexists with the information received from the pre-envisioned activities. Choosing to automate this process with the right platform should not be a decision between visibility and flexibility.
Business Transformation for All
Introducing process automation into your enterprise doesn’t mean you have to abandon existing IT investments. The best process automation strategy includes the right combination of people, processes, and technology, but that right combination considers many factors such as current IT investments, integrations with internal and external systems as well as how and with whom employees need to collaborate to get their work done.
Business Process automation is not just about cost-savings. It’s about delivering long-term value through the consistent and efficient operation of business. It empowers IT to support the definition, automation, and integration of processes the best way possible. That may involve working with existing legacy investments or adopting new innovative technologies that support new ways of working. It may involve new approaches to collaboration which support mobile or cloud-based access to information and systems. And it will involve the continuous monitoring of processes to provide visibility and transparency to all parties when required.
Business transformation is upon all of us. How we chose to address it is the difference between improved customer experience and increased bottom-line results, and running behind the pack trying to keep up. The efforts of CIOs play a pivotal role in this transformation as they work to implement technologies and strategies such as process automation to empower the workforce.
Read more tips for successfully powering business transformation in our white paper: “The CIO’s Guide to Business Transformation with Process Automation“