You don’t have to look too far to see the positive effects that Intelligent Automation (IA) is having on the workplace. This is a brief guide to help you make the case for Intelligent Automation.
Time and time again, organisations are seeing that IA not only has the potential to positively affect business productivity and cost effectiveness, but the fulfilment and happiness of staff too. Whether this be through innovation in healthcare, helping businesses reduce their “cost to serve” or just by giving staff back the time to provide excellent customer service; customers and employees alike are reaping the rewards of digital transformation.
But recognising the potential for Intelligent Automation to benefit your business does not always immediately and clearly translate into a tangible business plan.
Let’s kick off with a brief introduction: what is Intelligent Automation?
Intelligent Automation refers to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that is enhanced by advanced cognitive functionality such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing.
Many RPA vendors will claim that their platform allows for software robots to mimic and undertake human tasks, however without the ability to act intuitively, understand unstructured natural language and problem solve, RPA cannot truly emulate a human’s interaction online and across applications.
This can leave RPA falling short of its goal or failing to see a substantial return on investment (ROI). When teamed with Artificial Intelligence - to become Intelligent Automation - however, companies can achieve a more true-to-form imitation of human behaviour, optimising the results of automation.
So, what can it do?
The simple answer is lots. The use cases for Intelligent Automation are plentiful, and with new uses being trialled and deployed every day, it’s impossible to pose a limit on its potential.
Software robots - or Virtual Workers, as Thoughtonomy have affectionately coined them - come armed with several components that allow for intuition, autonomy, and the ability to understand. This allows businesses to make substantial savings on operational costs, dramatically increase productivity and provide improved customer service.
With all of this going on, determining which processes are good candidates for automation is no easy undertaking. This, coupled with understanding the costs associated with deployment and measuring the potential benefits, can make for a daunting task.
Here are some standard practices that will help to make it a little easier:
- A business case should be formatted in a profit and loss (P&L) view so that costs are listed against the relevant month the cost is incurred. This will allow for P&L owners, decision-makers and finance officers to easily align to their forecasts/budgets/approvals
- Both current and future costs should include a total line to sum the monthly costs of the operation. This will allow for the simple calculation of net saving per month
- Be robust – it can be easy to miss or overlook all the costs that make up the current or to-be processes
- Split costs into upfront, monthly fixed and monthly variable – and if the variable costs are linked to volume, make sure to include the volume in the business case
The underpinning goal of this process is to create a robust yet simple model for comparing current to future costs.
- A graph of current versus future costs provides an accessible visual representation to ease comparison
- A graph of the cumulative savings over time will show the point where the savings have paid for the initial investment – the ROI – where the curve crosses the x axis
While Intelligent Automation opens the door to a variety of incredible business opportunities, these have to be underpinned by a robust and reliable business case to ensure success. From hard ROI to soft improvements in customer service, unlocking IA could provide real business and social benefits.
For a more in-depth guide please see Thoughtonomy's “Making the business case for Intelligent Automation” whitepaper.
To find out how Ultima can help with your first step towards Digital Transformation with Intelligent Automation, check out our "Digital Workforce" guide.
- By Adam Lawrence (Head of Client Success, Thoughtonomy)