Automation

5 tools for orchestrated workforce and enterprise automation

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Key points:

  • Understand five types of process automation tools of varying complexity and maturity
  • When orchestrated, these tools can unlock workforce and enterprise transformation
  • 25 to 100 percent of repetitive processes can be automated, reallocating workforce bandwidth to more value-add activities

What is process automation and what value can it bring to your business enterprise? What are the tools used to attain process automation? And what exactly is workforce transformation? It’s important to explore these foundational questions as you develop your process automation strategy.

Process automation uses a collection of tools to digitize processes and automate business activities traditionally performed by humans. In some cases, process automation performance surpasses human abilities.

Process automation tools encompass both mature and developing toolsets.

Let’s take a look:

  1. Document digitization tools. These extend beyond basic optical character recognition (OCR) and incorporate cognitive capabilities. They can turn unstructured paper documents, electronic documents, and emails into usable data sets. This can enable an automated business process that understands specific document types and their relevant business processes.
  2. Desktop automation. Basic automation such as Microsoft Excel macros would fall under this category.
  3. Robotic process management software. Robotic process automation (RPA) is a combination of user interface (UI) recognition technologies and workflow execution. Together, they emulate how a human agent uses a screen and keyboard to drive applications and execute system-based work.
  4. Business process management software. These tools enable coordination across all the toolsets above, as well as supporting simpler UIs that combine—behind the scenes—multiple legacy systems. In my experience, depending on the business process, anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of tedious human intervention can be eliminated and supplanted with more efficient, orchestrated enterprise automation. This can significantly reduce cycle times, improve process quality, reduce cost and enable workforce reallocation to more specialized value-add activities.
  5. True cognitive capabilities, including machine learning and natural language processing. Cognitive tools take many forms and can interact in human-like ways such as speaking, chatting, web form-based dialogue and so on. Once cognitive tools are trained to interpret large information sources, they can enable better decision making. This is a key distinction between previously available toolsets.

Cognitive tools can help humans identify the best solution to a given business situation. Taken further, cognitive tools can perform much of the lower-level decision making (like call center activities) previously performed by humans. These capabilities can use vast structured and unstructured knowledge bases to enable banks and other financial services firms to achieve their strategic priorities in ways previously unimaginable. The entire organization can benefit across three dimensions:

  • Improved engagement
  • Improved analytical insight
  • Enterprise transformation

On their own, each tool set is limited in its ability to produce significant enterprise value. The key is to take an orchestrated approach to automation that aligns the strength of each tool to the right job. How does this create workforce transformation? In effect, you switch from humans performing most activity to orchestrated software robots performing those activities. The value to the enterprise? Nothing short of transformational.

Learn more about workforce transformation through intelligent process automation.

I also encourage you to set up some time with one of our automation experts. Get answers to your questions and advice on how to get started.

Schedule a call

Partner, FS Cognitive Automation Leader, IBM Global Business Services

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