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Automating High-Value Workflows for Better Efficiency in the Workforce
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April 21, 2022 Blog

Authored by: Zakir Ahmed, Senior Vice President and GM, Asia Pacific & Japan – Kofax

 

Instability and unpredictability have been the name of the game for businesses across all industries for the past two years. Major supply chain disruptions, labour and skill set shortages and a potentially permanent hybrid work model are just a few of the most recent changes companies have been forced to address.

While many organisations were already beginning to automate business processes, the challenges that surfaced in the last few years have highlighted to business leaders just how important automation is to business resilience. A recent benchmark study discovered that 90% of executives believe automating business workflows post-COVID will ensure business continuity. The same study shared that 89% of the respondents think digitally transformed companies have a competitive advantage.

However, the old approach just is not cutting it these days. Organisations looking to become more agile in the face of unpredictability and thrive in an unstable landscape must revisit their automation strategy.

The results of the study and underlying data indicate an intelligent automation platform that provides complementary technologies, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables businesses to transform high-value workflows. By utilising intelligent automation solutions, companies can achieve bigger, faster gains and implement a scalable strategy that supports the business today, tomorrow and beyond.

The Status Quo in Automation: Point Solutions

Organisations have viewed automation as valuable for quite some time now. Leaders expect the benefits to cascade throughout the organisation, from improved customer relationships to a positive financial impact.

The benchmark study pointed out that 94% seek to optimise customer acquisition and retention, 93% voted for maximising the value of IT investments, 83% wanted to ensure compliance, data management and security, and 77% looked to gain customer insights through data analysis.

Executives also feel compelled to speed up the automation process, with 88% of those surveyed think that end-to-end digital transformation must be fast-tracked. Additionally, business leaders indicated interest in automating specific high-value operational and financial workflows, such as accounts payable automation, transaction processing, bank statement processing and document security management, among others.

However, even though many have already started their automation efforts, a common approach has been to implement point solutions for specific projects. In fact, none of the survey respondents had fully automated the high-value workflows they identified as critical to digital transformation efforts.

Why? The old approach, which may seem cost-effective and faster at the time, ends up costing more and slowing down transformation efforts. Separate solutions built on different platforms typically are not very user-friendly, making it hard for non-technical users to contribute to automation projects. IT teams are faced with complex integrations trying to unite disjointed systems. A fragmented approach makes it next to impossible to scale automation across the enterprise—the true end game organisations desire.

“The benchmark study pointed out that 94% seek to optimise customer acquisition and retention, 93% voted for maximising the value of IT investments, 83% wanted to ensure compliance, data management and security, and 77% looked to gain customer insights through data analysis.”

Automation Capabilities in High-Value Workflows

A single integrated intelligent automation platform breaks down silos and makes end-to-end automation of mission-critical workflows achievable and scalable. To overcome the challenges associated with the old way of doing things, the platform should come equipped with certain core capabilities.

Every workflow that is a prime candidate for automation requires the processing of massive amounts of data from myriad sources. A truly advanced intelligent automation platform should be able to get the most from AI to accelerate digital workflow transformation.

Machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) unlock the value in unstructured data assets, while improving processing time and accuracy. The data in online digital assets, business applications, paper documents and digital identity documents all contain important information that needs to be collected, extracted, processed and analysed. Document intelligence applies cognitive capture and other technologies to process incoming data, regardless of format or channel.

There are concerns that digital transformation will make human workers redundant. It is quite the opposite as automation technologies can create a collaborative team of human and digital workers that work more efficiently together. With the rise of hybrid work arrangements, it can be a tough challenge to keep business processes operating smoothly. Through process orchestration, digital workflows can be managed better and compliance with existing regulations can be easily monitored. Processes can be updated as needed, and organisations can increase output without increasing headcount, which helps improve scalability.

Despite organisations’ initiatives to move towards automation, it would be pointless if business applications are disconnected. Organisations rely on core systems such as Customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), chatbots and other applications to operate. A reliable and truly intelligent automation platform unifies these systems through an open architecture and prebuilt adapters.

What happens when companies use an intelligent automation platform to automate high-value workflows? Well, executives expect a big payback across many areas of the business, according to the study. By investing in automation solutions, business leaders seek to achieve more efficient operations (99%), significantly reduced costs (94%), higher revenues (92%), higher acquisition of new customers (92%) as well as retention of existing customers (90%).

Other areas where business leaders expect to benefit include improved customer satisfaction, competitive advantage and empowering employees to do more with less. In other words, the effects cascade throughout the business and amplify as automation is scaled enterprise wide.

Use Cases for Intelligent Automation

Overburdened and stressed up employees in health care facilities will appreciate patient transfers paperwork to be automated. Through automation, overburdened front liners are released from the mundane repetitive work, allowing them to refocus their energy towards patient care. With better accuracy and more efficient process, patients can receive the care and attention they need.

Financial organisations can look forward to reducing the cost tied-up with invoice processing and gaining valuable insight into the cash flow when the Accounts Payable (AP) process is automated. This helps elevate the role of AP teams in the organisation, allowing them to add strategic insight into financial planning.

“There are concerns that digital transformation will make human workers redundant. It is quite the opposite as automation technologies can create a collaborative team of human and digital workers that work more efficiently together. With the rise of hybrid work arrangements, it can be a tough challenge to keep business processes operating smoothly.”

Customer onboarding is a common use case for intelligent automation across various industries. A frictionless onboarding will convince the potential customer to complete the process. A seamless onboarding also signals a good start with customer relations, which gives organisations a true competitive advantage.

All structured and unstructured data flowing into the business can be validated and processed through the digital mailroom. A streamlined process lessens human intervention and optimises data capture, which improves the company’s document management process. With intelligent automation, management have access to up-to-date information for smarter and more proactive business decisions.

Instability and unpredictability may appear like they have the upper hand right now, but innovative companies are playing the long game and making the move towards integrated intelligent automation platforms.

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