Chris Huff, Chief Strategy Officer at Kofax
30th September, 2019, London, UK: Digital transformation technologies like Intelligent Automation continue to advance in capability and strength, but many organisations have yet to realise the full extent of their value to optimise operations. Workflows such as invoice handling and contract management are still largely manual and executives are understandably eager to embrace these technologies to empower their organisations to work like tomorrow.
Recent research suggests executive misalignment between C-Suite expectations and ability of an organisation to scale automation to achieve business operations. According to an HFS Research survey of nearly 600 business leaders, C-level executives say the top three benefits of Intelligent Automation are improving the customer experience, delivering data insights and driving top-line revenue growth. Given this viewpoint, it’s not surprising to learn that the C-Suite has ambitious goals for scaling automation to achieve operations objectives and realise greater efficiencies. In the same survey, two-thirds of business leaders said they’re confident that they can leverage digital transformation technologies as a lever to realise these outcomes over the next 12 to 18 months.
It’s worth noting that this optimism is likely rooted in the C-Suite’s understanding of the current state of business operations. According to a Forbes Global Insights survey, three out of four CEOs believe their organisational workstreams are either consistently or very consistently executed, while 68 percent indicate their operations execution is either somewhat or very detailed.
However, this is out of sync with the perceptions of operations personnel in the trenches, who are notably less confident that processes are precisely defined and consistently executed. Although most executives said that their business operations were executed in a precise and consistent manner, the level of confidence in business operations varied by type of executive.
For example, CEOs at the largest companies were the most optimistic. By contrast though, IT executives rated the state of business operations as simply “good.” Those who were the least positive were VPs and directors.
Meanwhile, CFOs were still positive, but not quite as positive as CEOs. Operational efficiency is a core responsibility for CFOs. Their teams are tasked with regularly consolidating and reporting vast quantities of detailed records to the most important stakeholders. For this reason, their assessment of the state of business operations raises a red flag.
The misalignment between aspirations and reality poses a serious problem for organisations as they attempt to scale automation. Without alignment between expectations and reality, organisations won’t be able to achieve scale as quickly as the CEO would like.
Better communication between the C-suite, IT executives, and those in the trenches is the solution. These groups need to establish clarity on what’s required and what’s possible. In addition, it’s critical that the enterprise approach automation holistically, rather than in silos, to achieve success. Operations personnel should also be enabled to play a part in leading automation initiatives, along with the CIO, to enable widespread rollout and scale.
That’s what global agency Dentsu Aegis discovered when it applied natural language processing (NLP) to its request-for-proposal (RFP) process. As a result of clear goals and communications, along with collaboration with operations personnel, they were able to implement Intelligent Automation and alleviate the sales team from spending hundreds of hours manually reviewing individual RFPs.
In the effort to move quickly and achieve results, it’s easy to overlook the obvious. To scale Intelligent Automation, the C-Suite, IT and those in the trenches need a common understanding of possibilities and capabilities. To work like the transformed business of tomorrow, expectations should be aligned, and clear and constant communication is the path to achieving objectives quickly and efficiently.