If you’ve been in the ECM/document capture/workflow automation industry for over a decade, you’ve seen that many of the current issues today are the same issues as a decade ago – or even 30 years ago. Many of the issues revolve around the issue of automating manual business processes.
The answers have been the same since the beginning:
- Identify your business problem
- Create processes with as much straight through processing as possible
- Remove paper at every step
- Store documents so you can find them again, according to industry compliance and company records management rules
The tools have gotten better, the problems (and failures) remain the same. The first item from McKinsey really reminded us of this as their recommendations for automation success could have been written in 1989 (that’s not to take a shot at their research, just a point that many businesses have been ignoring this advice for a long time).
Issues with unstructured data, research on process automation (and unstructured content) from ABBYY, Celonis research on (lack of) process execution, and a look at the relationship between the pandemic and automation rounds out our five pieces for today. Enjoy.
The Imperatives for Automation Success
This survey from McKinsey holds a few valuable insights, particularly in the recommendations for succeeding with automation. The automation technologies mentioned by survey respondents will be familiar to regular readers: business process management platforms, robotic process automation (RPA), image recognition (OCR/machine learning/natural language processing), and process mining and discovery software.
The recommendations for success aren’t new because many companies continue to ignore them – and fail. Companies who succeed with automation:
- Make automation a strategic priority
- Focus on people as much as technology
- Develop an operating model that enables scaling
The Unstructured Data Problem
Unstructured data is set to explode, again. Every few years, analyst firms like IDC, Gartner, etc. release reports about the explosion of data. At this point we can assume this is going to continue for the foreseeable future.
This is going to cause problems for businesses as they save too much information, much of it with personally identifiable information (which increases risk in the event of a data breach/ransomware attack). Not to mention paying more for storage than needed, retrieval issues, etc. Even though this article was written four years ago, the suggestions for beginning to get a handle on this problem remain relevant.
You Need Both Content and Process Intelligence
While we’ve been focused recently on developing our process mining (and thus automation) expertise, we haven’t forgotten our roots in ECM (today’s content services). ABBYY has been around for nearly 30 years, beginning as a capture/OCR software vendor. In recent years, they’ve added process mining to their capabilities with their Timeline product.
They recognize that companies need to understand both their business processes as well as the unstructured content that flows through those processes. They sponsored research by McKinsey, Using Digital Intelligence to Identify Transformation Opportunities, that spotlights the need to include both in your automation and digital transformation strategy.
The 2021 State of Business Execution
This research from Celonis asks the question, “Is your company executing at maximum capacity?”
The answer: almost certainly not.
We wrote a quick overview of this research; you can read that here.
Did the Pandemic Force Businesses to Automate?
This piece has some interesting statistical nuggets about the benefits of WFH.
“If there is one thing positive thing about the pandemic, it is that it has helped businesses see their operational shortfalls, forcing them to take immediate action and rethink their futures.
Now that many have been operating with a remote workforce, and the initial emergency is over, they have had time to readdress the challenges they faced when making that pivot to remote work – especially if they only put temporary fixes in place.”