Intelligent Automation is not just Technology Implementation, but...

Intelligent Automation is not just Technology Implementation, but Change Management

By Sameer Dania, Global Head, Business Development – Platforms, Tech Mahindra [NSE: TECHM]

Sameer Dania, Global Head, Business Development – Platforms, Tech Mahindra [NSE: TECHM]

Intelligent Automation is the fastest growing technology with the greatest power for disruption. To automate or not, is no longer a question. Automation is an effective approach for organizations to solve challenges related to time to market, legacy, and disparate technology environments and scarcity of capital.

While we have seen most organizations succeeding in their automation journey, some of them have not been able to sustain the momentum or achieve the scale. As with many emerging technologies, a large dose of hype and myth accompany their adoption.

Myth – Process Mining is overkill

Majority of process owners within organizations feel that process mining is overkill. While process owners have every right to say that they know their processes, it will be wrong to have the same yardstick while doing Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA should not be done for every process. There is a great opportunity to re-engineer your processes rather than automating it. Process mining helps you to take an objective view and decide the right course of action.

Mining also helps you to document the keystroke level details. 80 percent of the time, there is a difference in agreement in use case complexity - between a process owner and RPA developer. In essence, Process evaluation and problem discovery is the key to success.

Myth – RPA is a simple plug-and-play tool

Enterprises spend more time in selecting the right RPA software than creating a right operating model for automation. While RPA tools are extremely user-friendly, RPA journey entails much beyond development. There is a longer-than-expected curve for implementation because a slight variation in the process can be a roadblock for RPA software to perform the job. Development is just a part of the RPA journey. Process discovery, Exception handling, infra setup, change management are complex tasks and equally important.

Also while RPA work at user interface layer, it does have challenges while interacting with backend systems, especially if the backend systems are part of the legacy stack. One of the large healthcare providers in NA had a tough time with a medium complexity use that was attributed to RPA’s inability to interact with a particular mainframe version. A medium use case which should have ideally taken 6 weeks, eventually took 20 weeks due to this misalignment.

Myth – RPA is driven by business entirely, IT has no role to play

The way RPA was initially branded was as “a tool for business and little or no IT involvement”. With increasing deployments, it is now clear that RPA adoption needs engagement with every stakeholder – IT, Infra, Business, Security. Enterprise wide adoption is at risk if even one of them is not engaged. Infact this myth is so problematic that it can entirely derail your automation roadmap. Multiple operating model challenges are answered by these stakeholders. The concept of CoE also came to counter this myth.

Myth – RPA requires minimum support

Like any other IT software, due focus on RPA support should be given. This has become more of an afterthought. RPA support needs to follow the IT Service Management frame work. Apart from L1 and L2 support, the admin activities are critical as well.

Myth – RPA is all about FTE reduction

Majority of organizations feel that RPA is all about FTE (Full Time Employees) reduction. Business owners are of the opinion that RPA will reduce their man power. While FTE reduction was one of the major considerations earlier but as technology has evolved, other RPA benefits have also emerged. The biggest benefit is freeing up FTEs time for more value-added work.

Myth – RPA delivers transformational impact alone

A sizeable majority of organizations look at RPA to deliver transformational impact and get easily frustrated when it does not. Business owners believe RPA can help automate entire departments or most part of it. While RPA can help you towards transformational initiatives, it cannot deliver the benefits entirely on its own. A 2017 paper by McKinsey found that “few occupations are fully automatable,” but 60 percent of all occupations have at least 30 percent technically automatable activities.”

That is the reason intelligent automation has become popular. RPA in combination with AI/ML techniques can certainly deliver transformational projects. One of the largest telecom provider in North America, is using intelligent automation to automate processing 2.4 Million requests coming through unstructured emails annually. This will help automate 95 percent of these request handled by 400 FTE’s.

Myth – Centre of Excellence is not important

In order to use automation strategically to achieve enterprise goals, a CoE led approach is a great enabler. Many organizations believe COE is not important hence do not invest time and money into it. Most organizations who don’t have COE either fail in their RPA journey or do not get enough business benefits. COE helps to achieve scale and agility on an enterprise scale by answering questions related to policies, training, security, infrastructure etc. to name a few.

While RPA can help companies re-think their workforce and human capital needs, not spending enough time in its initial days can have a detrimental effect. RPA is easy as compared to traditional IT software; however, do not look at it as just a plug and play technology. Invest first few weeks well to create an operating structure ensuring enterprise-wide adoption. Important thing to remember is that Intelligent Automation is more of a change management than a technology implementation. Real power of intelligent automation is unleashed by end-to-end Process automation.

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