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Implementing Process Automation at the Right Time

Implementing Process Automation at the Right Time
July 29, 2019

The constant evolution of smart technologies and changing customer expectations has irrevocably transformed the business landscape. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and analytics have fundamentally changed business processes and with it how businesses interact with their customers. In the era of digital transformation, technology has become the panacea for all operational challenges. Unfortunately, for many organizations, the rush to evolve and implement business process automation has come at the cost of a focus on readiness and this has resulted in an overload of automation initiatives that are premature and far from effective.

Success in Business Process Automation is a Function of Readiness, ROI, and Scalability

The steps to evaluate the implementation of AI technologies is based on factors like scope, scale, budget, stakeholder inputs, staff buy-in, regulations and process standards, and volumes. However, most organizations implement automation technology without a clear roadmap to maximize ROI. A recent poll of 1,500 finance professionals revealed that the onus for automating business processes either lay with IT or was scattered across departments undertaking the digitization initiative. This approach limits the potential for success as ownership, critical data, and lessons learned remain fragmented across the enterprise.

At HCL, the three-step “Recipe for Success in Automation” includes the following:

  • Risk assessment of application space
  • Implications and opportunities of automation technology
  • Application of process improvements like Lean and Six Sigma

Why the Right Time Matters in Process Automation?

Poorly implemented automation solutions can prove dangerous and expensive for any organization. Take for example the June 2018 case of a major Leading international bank which was fined the largest financial penalty any corporation has ever had to pay in Australia. The bank had to shell out millions of dollars to settle anti-money laundering and terrorism financing charges that were brought against it by the country’s apex financial intelligence body.

At the core of this scandal was the bank’s intelligent deposit machines which allowed non-bank customers to anonymously deposit thousands of cash currency at a time. It was later found that the bank failed to report transactions over a stipulated amount by the required deadline. While the bank blamed this on a coding error, it was evident that it was the supporting technology underlying the deposit machines that didn’t live up to the organization’s automation requirements.

Not only has the financial penalty been heavy, but so has been the cost to society. The digital loophole was allegedly exploited by drug dealers to anonymously launder money and possibly, to even fund terror activities. This is a cautionary tale for financial organizations jumping the automation gun in a hurry to digitize operations.

Figuring out how to implement and scale up automation solutions can be a major enterprise challenge. To optimize the benefits of automation, determining when to implement initiatives with operations is of utmost importance. In other words, gauging the level of readiness determines whether a particular initiative will be successful or not. Assessing the ideal window of opportunity for AI technology implementation includes a benchmarking process, mapping, and focused research into the requirement of intelligent automation solutions within the organization.

The HCL Approach

This is not, however, an indictment against process automation. Automation technology has irrevocably changed the current business landscape, and will continue to do so in the future. In fact, by 2025, automated technologies will perform more than half the tasks that are performed manually on a daily basis. Research has also revealed that close to 45% of tasks that workers are paid to perform – representing about $2 trillion in wages – can be effectively digitized.

These statistics are, of course, only theoretical until enterprises are able to enact efficient and proven business process automation solutions. At HCL, we follow a Process-First, Technology-Led digital operations method which takes a holistic approach towards intelligent automation initiatives. Before automating processes, we perform a thorough analysis over 4-6 weeks to identify challenges around the required areas of improvement. It is only after this thorough vetting that we’re able to advise our customers on their exact automation technology needs. This approach is focused on ensuring that customers do not prematurely invest in solutions that aren’t relevant to their problems, and in many cases can be solved using process changes.

At HCL, we follow a Process-First, Technology-Led digital operations method which takes a holistic approach towards intelligent automation initiatives.

However, in instances where a fully-fledged process automation solution is required, HCL is able to offer its clients a robust technology offering known as EXACTO™. An intelligent and automated product created in 2017, EXACTO™ is based on AI, ML, natural language processing (NLP), and robotic process automation (RPA) to deliver better straight-through processing results. HCL’s EXACTO™ automation suite is a key example of the synthesis between technologies and is designed to make integrated automation possible.

EXACTO™ is an ML-based product that can help organizations scale their automation processing and take their growth potential to the next level. Its key feature is its computer vision based capabilities that make conventional optical character recognition (OCR) seem obsolete as it leverages a combination of AI, ML, NLP, robotic process automation, and analytics.

With this solution HCL was able to help financial institutions across the US and UK digitize a plethora of processes. A leading bank was able to automate the extraction of customers’ KYC details from scanned documents including transaction processing and verification of hand written signatures in an easy and efficient manner. Conclusion

We, at HCL, understand that a purely technology-led approach can lead to fragmentation and lack of synergy and standardization; affect workforce competency; increase process complexity, costs, and inflexibility; and pose other challenges down the line. This is where our Process-First, Technology-Led approach is instrumental in ensuring that organizations make the right decision at the right time. This not only ensures the benefits of automation are centralized, standardized, and consolidated across the enterprise, but also helps adopt a simplified, adaptive, and low-cost solution that results in clear ROIs for their long term strategy.

Register to schedule a meeting and drop by HCL booth #107 at Intelligent Automation Week 2019 at Sheraton Grand, Chicago, IL, between August 5th – August 7th, 2019, to discuss about your digital process operations journey, understand your automation initiatives and challenges, and see how HCL can collaborate with your organization to drive business value.