If You’re Automating Business Processes, Don’t Overlook This Step

Our expert explains why a unified platform is the key to intelligent automation solutions.

Written by Brian Hesse
Published on Mar. 21, 2024
If You’re Automating Business Processes, Don’t Overlook This Step
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In business today, having easy access to the right tool for the job at the right time is crucial. Sometimes you need a hammer, and others you may need a screwdriver. As a result, more and more businesses are turning to intelligent automation to match the right resources to the appropriate tasks, significantly increasing operational efficiency. Doing so frees up valuable IT resources and improves the customer experience. 

With access to process orchestration, artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML) and other cognitive technologies, a unified automation platform gives organizations greater oversight of their business processes. Recent research finds that companies are increasingly interested in platforms that use AI and ML features, especially generative AI, to make better use of diverse and fast-growing data sets. Businesses looking to simplify their technology stacks and reduce the number of vendors they must manage, can adopt a unified automation platform to help them scale faster. 

What Is a Unified Automation Platform?

A unified automation platform provides multiple processing tools, such as robotic process automation, business process management, process orchestration, no-code application development, process intelligence, AI/ML, and intelligent document processing, all in one experience. The goal is to connect a workforce of people with useful digital resources. Such platforms enable businesses not only to unify the workforce, but also transform customer, employee and user journeys and scale enterprise-wide while providing full control and governance. 

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How Automation Facilitates Collaboration  

Siloed systems and processes can lead to service gaps as each department focuses on its specific needs rather than considering the organizations overall requirements and goals. Retrieving necessary information becomes time-consuming and cumbersome because front-end sales, middle-office operations and back-end processes use different systems. 

For example, suppose your sales department uses a customer relationship management (CRM) system to track leads and customer interactions, but it is separate from the systems used by other departments. If the sales team wants to provide the customer with product information that needs to come from the operations department, this process might involve manually retrieving that information, which may take time and result in delays in responding to the customer. 

When collaboration is difficult, businesses don’t make good, data-driven decisions, and the customer journey is disjointed. Business units focus on business valuation, whereas IT departments are all about technologies. As organizations continue to be customer-focused and market responsive, business units have become more influential in determining tools to meet these goals, rather than centralized organization departments like IT or human resources. Taking a holistic approach to your automation journey through one centralized automation platform can help you use in-house resources more wisely, reduce manual processes, and collect more reliable and timely data. 

Mutual fund families, for example, share clients with dozens of intermediaries such as brokerage platforms, advisory firms and retirement plans. These partners may send essential data every month in a format that does not align with your systems. Processing the data can be a resource drain from labor to computational resources, particularly when something changes.  

In the case of one U.S. asset management firm we work with, the company spent a lot of time creating and maintaining systems to standardize all of this incoming data. The firm received close to 50 sources of data per month and was forced to repeatedly update and rewrite code to accommodate them.  

The solution was to integrate RPA with business process management (BPM) to tackle this ever-shifting sea of data, resulting in an 85 percent reduction in resource hours per month. RPA and BPM work best when combined: RPA automates repetitive and routine tasks and BPM delivers the right work to the right resource at the right time, orchestrating work across humans, digital workers, and disparate systems, creating a unified, end-to-end process experience. The systems deployed by the assets management firm on a unified automation platform became smart enough to detect and address changes in the data with little to no manual intervention. This not only saved resources, but it also provided access to up-to-date CRM information.

 

Simplifying the Automation Journey 

Rather than standalone RPA offerings, more and more organizations will use platforms for seamless integrations and enhanced user experience. By 2025, IDC FutureScape anticipates that 70 percent of enterprises will establish strategic partnerships with cloud providers to access generative AI platforms, developer tools and infrastructure. This shift will require implementation of new corporate protocols for cost governance and data management. 

Unified platforms help reduce obstacles for customers, enabling users to work with broader portfolios and technologies from a single vendor. In one example, a U.S.-based insurer and wealth management provider with more than 17 million customers used a single unified system to replace a patchwork of four implementing technologies that it used to process claims. This disparate mix of claims processing tech caused a lot of pain for the clients, including highly manual, multi-step processes using numerous databases and spreadsheets. This resulted in a substantial claims backlog, tracking errors, redundant work and lost files. 

Implementing an end-to-end redesign for the entire claims and beneficiary care and customer care center helped resolve those issues. This included 14 new guided processes, a unified portal interface, automation, standardization and better audit trails. Rewritten processes eliminated many bottlenecks and demands on hardware and the new digital portal helped employees avoid unnecessary data entry, tamed several forms and reduced errors. Follow-up speed was improved, and customers were able to indicate preferred communication channels. The changes resulted in a 50 percent reduction in claims processing time. 

 

Key Components for Your Business Toolkit 

Our client, a U.S.-based e-commerce company, dealt with all incoming orders manually. The client’s systems featured little integration, no secure method for receiving incoming work and no assignment tracking capabilities to eliminate duplication of efforts. The business had minimal and fragmented insight into work volumes, job types, user productivity and service-level agreement deadlines.  

The company did all reporting and documentation manually on an intermittent basis. We led an extensive project to close gaps in security, process and reporting practices. Priorities were to create transparency and visibility into the overall business. 

Once the company utilized a suite of intelligent automation technologies from a unified platform, the benefits included the following:

  • Consolidated order views — Order intake was centralized and standardized. 
  • Workflow automation — Tasks were intelligently routed using customized rules, data from other systems and client/order requirements. 
  • Compliance upgrade — Automation and auditability of workflow reduced compliance risks. 
  • Secure order intake — Content ingestion and management functionality were streamlined and automated. 
  • Productivity tracking — Managers seeking to improve team performance used new tools.

These benefits allow organizations to meet customer needs and requirements faster or better while giving the organization the ability to be more flexible and responsive to changing market needs. This overhaul resulted in a $1 million decrease in regulatory penalty costs, and the business exceeded their original savings goal by $25,000.  

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Accomplishing More the Smart Way 

Having a unified platform ensures transparency and alignment, facilitating smoother operations and collaboration across teams because you can streamline business processes the smart way with end-to-end automation. This cohesive approach prevents sudden additions to processes without acknowledgement from others, which is particularly important as processes often span multiple horizontal silos within a business unit.  

Incorporating a mature, intelligent automation platform into your business toolkit is not merely an upgrade — its a transformative leap forward for any organization aiming to accelerate growth. Such a platform will serve as a cornerstone for the organization, harmonizing business operations across various departments by establishing a universally accepted workflow. This business toolkit offers easy access to advanced cognitive technologies and process orchestration expertise, providing the right tools to get the maximum value for organizations and their customers.

The result? A dramatic reduction in operational errors, a fortified defense against regulatory penalties and the elimination of disjointed and inconsistent customer experiences. With access to cutting-edge cognitive technologies and unrivaled process orchestration proficiency, organizations can unlock unparalleled value for themselves and their customers.  

It’s not just about doing business better. It’s about redefining the standards of excellence in your business operations. 

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