Admit it: automation isn’t something you’re entirely comfortable talking about. Maybe you don’t think it’s your job to do so (you’re still unclear on what robotic process automation (RPA) really does, anyway). Maybe you don’t want to bring up the inevitable workforce implications. Or perhaps you’d rather focus on the glossier aspects of transformation—customer experience, upskilling and digital strategy.
Automation is about all of those things. And every company needs to take a serious look at how they’re approaching it, especially as new tools put the power to solve problems and streamline tasks into the hands of business users. “Low-code,” or self-service, data management and RPA tools enable finance, human resources or other teams to address data challenges in their function and eliminate repetitive tasks. More advanced tools, which require stronger collaboration with the IT department, are also designed for business users and take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) to intelligently optimize business processes.
But don’t start with the technology. Instead, reframe the automation discussion with these five questions:
Automatically extract and integrate data from disparate sources, such as combining spreadsheet and ERP for analysis.
Automates repetitive activities across multiple systems via software robots that replicate a user’s workflow.
Trained algorithms that make decisions as part of an automated process flow, such as selecting the optimal supplier at a given point in time.
Algorithms that process speech or text input, such as a chatbot that interprets customer queries.
Identify patterns and learn over time to optimize automated workflows.
Orchestrate work allocation between humans and machines across multiple automation technologies.
Automates workflows, often via a drag-and-drop interface, such as managing IT support tickets.
Automates repetitive tasks across desktop applications, such as validating customer data in a CRM system.