Businesses looking to digitally transform will be better able to do so with intelligent automation platforms, which include features and capabilities such as robotic process automation (RPA), process mining, workflows, decisions, to name a few. This will not only improve operational efficiencies, but also enable employees to direct their focus on higher value activities.
The global pandemic has underscored the need for enterprises to establish more resilient operations across the organization. This means their processes and workflows must be interconnected, with full visibility of their operations enterprise-wide, and there is access to real-time insights so they can take decisive actions when necessary.
Organizations that tap automation, alongside artificial intelligence (AI), to develop these capabilities are better able to manage customer service disruptions and address workforce challenges.
In fact, 79% of organizations that deploy intelligent automation at scale expect to outperform their competition in revenue growth within three years, according to a global study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, in collaboration with Oxford Economics. Guided by AI capabilities, intelligent automation carries out actions that require minimal human interventions such as monitoring and scheduled events.
Another 90% of organizations say scaling intelligent automation creates higher value work for their employees, the IBM survey reveals. In addition, nearly 80% that do so say they will allow intelligent machines to process complex or mission-critical decisions within three years.
The study further finds that 44% of organizations will increase their investment in robotics in the next three years, while 55% say the same for investments in AI.
Identify automation use case, then scale up
Automation enables employees to spend less time on repetitive, menial tasks, and focus their attention on more productive, higher value work.
AI-powered automated tools such as virtual assistants also arm businesses with the ability to serve more customers and speed up their response time, thereby, improving service delivery. For instance, they can better handle spikes in demand through automating approvals in refund disputes or automatically routing customer requests.
Organizations looking to kickstart their journey can do so with RPA, which serves as a good gateway to introduce automation and can yield business benefits at low cost, with minimum risk.
For instance, they can tap unattended bots to automate and streamline back-office manual tasks such as data collection and reporting, onboarding, and payroll calculation. These bots can further provide front-office support that help employees more quickly and better respond to customers.
AI-powered virtual assistants also can address customer questions and handle simple tasks without human intervention, as well as further automate IT processes such as IT helpdesk and service requests.
The IBM Robotic Process Automation solution, a key offering under the IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation platform, helps businesses get started with simple licensing, low-code development and deployment options. The solution encompasses authoring tools that provide hundreds of prebuilt commands, enabling users to build and deploy bots faster.
Organizations keen to get started or operationalize AI for larger business goals and scale up their automation, can look at rolling out automation for their core processes.
For instance, they can apply straight-through processing to better handle spikes in demand, such as automating approvals for refunds and insurance claims processing. They also can scale customer services with intelligent automation by automatically routing customer requests.
There are other use cases organizations can explore with IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation, such as automating workstreams for handling customer requests so service agents can deliver consistent and faster response.
Organizations also can optimize internal processes, for example, by applying AI-powered automation to transform accounts payable processes and drive productivity as well as to simplify common tasks and boost business performance.
IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation includes specialized business automation capabilities for content, decisions, tasks, and workflows. It offers valuable insights into how your processes run, visualizes processing issues, and pinpoints fixes to optimize workflows.
Simplify processes first, then automate
Businesses have been able to leverage these automation capabilities to significantly reduce the amount of time spent on manual processes as well as customer wait times, and streamline tasks such as report production from days to hours.
One organization that achieved such efficiencies is Banco Popular.
The Puerto Rico-headquartered bank knew it needed to find a way to automate its processes when it was faced with increasing regulatory requirements. It had relied on manual processes to ensure it remained in compliance, but doing so was quickly consuming time that its employees could have spent on value-added activities.
The bank wanted to reduce its dependence on manual processes, so it could achieve higher cost efficiencies and focus on new growth markets.
Banco Popular tapped IBM Robotic Process Automation with Automation Anywhere to automate repetitive, manual tasks and processes. Working with a team from IBM, the bank realized it had to first simplify a process as much as possible, before automating those that could not be further simplified.
Doing this ensured Banco Popular was transforming existing processes into improved, streamlined ones and making these entirely automated, rather than simply automating complicated processes.
Running the IBM solution in a cloud environment also enabled the bank to quickly scale when it needed to. The option to run it in a hybrid environment further allowed Banco Popular to run some components that required more stringent security measures on-premises, behind the bank's firewall, while others are processed in the cloud for greater scalability.
After successfully deploying its first proof-of-concept, which slashed the time a process took to run from 10 to 11 minutes to just 10 to 11 seconds, Banco Popular received requests to automate some 100 processes internally. These included fully automating a task to create a report that previously required employees to log into multiple systems to download the data and combine it in a spreadsheet.
Organizations looking to digitally transform through automation can find it challenging to scale from simple, back-office task automation to automating time-consuming business processes. IBM Robotic Process Automation addresses this by enabling enterprises to automate their business and IT processes at scale, with the ease and speed of traditional RPA.
With the IBM solution, organizations can tap unattended bots to automate and streamline manual, repetitive tasks such as data collection and reporting. They also can use attended software bots to assist human workers to improve the quality and time to resolve customer queries.
When deployed effectively, automation serves not to displace but to augment humans, so your employees can redirect their attention and time on activities that generate more value for the organization.
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