Seven features of a successful automation center of excellence

By Benjamin Chance

Many otherwise successful organizations can struggle to establish the optimal integration of their existing teams and technologies with the transformative nature of robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). RPA and AI have ushered in the fourth industrial revolution, requiring enhanced internal collaboration to rapidly embrace new ways of working. 

At the intersection of these human and technological challenges is the automation center of excellence (CoE).

Why an Automation CoE?

Automation isn’t just a technology journey, it’s the transformation of people, culture and the nature of work. It’s the job of the automation CoE to ensure you have the muscle to start to work in new and disruptive areas — to embrace the resultant human change and ensure that automated processes run smoothly and are strategically improved with new technology.

Specifically, these CoEs can help you operationalize your automation and digital strategies. This includes establishing the governance and metrics; identifying and prioritizing the pipeline; and designing, developing and managing the automations. Throughout that cycle, the CoE guides technology selection, resource management and benefits realization.

As automation creates a hybrid workforce where humans and digital workers excel together, the automation CoE is also there to help human staff join forces with their new digital co-workers. It can help you identify areas where your human workforce can expand their previous skills – now automated or augmented – to provide higher value for your customers.

What does a successful automation CoE look like?

Given the pace of business disruption, speed to value is key. Automation CoEs must have agile in their DNA and rapidly iterate through new technologies and business opportunities to deliver benefits at scale. Ensuring the smooth, timely delivery of automation is a vital measure for CoEs and their stakeholders. In order to achieve that and other objectives, successful automation CoEs tend to have seven capabilities in common.

A successful automation CoE…

  1. Has an engagement model to lead your organization through design thinking to envision the future of your automated enterprise and establish its strategy.
  2. Has a proven methodology to help prepare all members of your ecosystem for the automation-driven changes to employee and customer experiences.
  3. Has a targeted set of education materials to help develop new talent models and career paths.
  4. Can help you build a responsive governance approach across potential operating models (federated, hybrid, centralized) to continuously address business and customer needs.
  5. Can help you accelerate business value identification through automated process discovery and design thinking that optimizes your hybrid workforce.
  6. Can help you develop skilled resources and reusable assets across a variety of industry standard platforms.
  7. Can help you ensure smooth delivery of automations to achieve business benefits with minimal impacts.

Business and IT leaders need an engaged, human-centric approach to kickstart and evolve automation as a lever to turn their innovation strategy into action. Having an automation CoE can help.

At IBM, we’ve been working with clients over the past five years to establish and expand their automation CoEs. If you’re interested in learning more, watch the replay of a webcast where an Everest Group analyst and IBM expert discuss the challenges clients face with intelligent automation and offer practical guidance for tackling them. Watch now or later.

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