Citi Ventures and Work-Bench, an enterprise-focused venture capital firm based in New York City, recently hosted a virtual roundtable in which participants from thought-leading startups, large enterprises, and advisory firms addressed the state of enterprise automation adoption. The discussion centered on the evolving automation landscape, how to navigate the abundance of optimization services, and the best way for enterprises to measure returns on their crucial automation investment. Here are the key takeaways.
Automation is no longer a mere nice-to-have for large-scale enterprises. It has become a board-level initiative and top-of-mind for executives. When it comes to choosing the right solutions, however, businesses are faced with a smorgasbord of services ranging from Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and process mining to chatbots and smart-tablet integration systems. It can be difficult to choose a path with such a diverse assortment of options—and equally challenging to evaluate performance in the days and months after implementation. To accurately measure automation ROI, executives need to integrate their myriad tools and services in a way that creates a full picture―or risk creating a landscape too complex or disjointed to evaluate effectively.
This initial challenge is often followed by difficulty sticking to one solution long enough to see its real benefits in action. Continuous leapfrogging from one capability to the next can undercut the overarching strategy and leave each service’s potential unrealized. Roundtable participants recommended focusing on one solution, within one business line, long enough to confirm ROI and then share the use case across the organization. Scaling gradually and building systems that can be augmented and extended throughout the enterprise paves the way to long-term success.
Many of the roundtable’s participants acknowledged the role a Center of Excellence (COE) can play in leading a company-wide embrace of new technologies. COEs can provide standardization and serve as both new-solution evangelists and helpful guides, but their work comes with its own challenges. One speaker noted the frequent “tug-of-war” between these tech groups and a company’s lines of business—a structure that may first be met with excitement can lead to friction when meeting compliance and governance requirements.
Despite the organizational challenges, another speaker championed the COE as a necessary “defensive measure” against unreasonable internal expectations. Vendors may hype their products, so organizations need an internal group to manage expectations and help teams ease into their solutions, learn necessary skills, and slowly iterate.
A long time horizon is needed for organizations to properly assess their automation transformations. Roundtable participants noted that it’s essential for all stakeholders to agree in advance on the metrics that will define success. For example, today the impact of automation goes beyond merely reducing FTEs. It is seen in fewer errors, higher SLA attainment, and improved ability to ramp and scale. Roundtable participants recommended measuring ROI in multiple, dynamic phases and not treating it like a single, static finish line in the distant future. This paradigm shift can keep automation efforts on track and moving forward effectively.
There is always more to discuss when it comes to the benefits and opportunities of enterprise automation solutions—not to mention the latest improvements in complementary data- and process-mining strategies. That said, at least one conclusion needed no further discussion at the Roundtable: the best time for enterprises to start their automation journey is now.
Interested in learning more about enterprise automation? Email Matt Carbonara at email@example.com.