As boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds continue to blur, every business today needs to be a digital business. An effective digital business strategy leverages technology in all aspects of the business to create fundamentally new business models and end user experiences. Becoming a digital business is not a one-time event but a continuous process of digitalization, transformation and re-transformation of the business processes as well as the enterprise applications used to implement them.
Embracing a blistering pace of change in both the business and technology introduces significant risks of business disruption that need to be effectively managed. Automation and artificial intelligence solutions along with proven implementation strategies can help not just manage this risk, but also accelerate innovation on an ongoing basis.
1) Understand critical business processes: Before transformation can occur you need to understand your current business processes and the enterprise applications that make them work. But how do you go about doing it? You may have had accurate documentation when those processes were initially implemented, but chances are those documents are long out-of-date. Having people manually update or create new documentation is tedious and time consuming.
Fortunately, automated business process discovery software can help create business process documents in real-time and keep them continuously updated and accurate as business processes change. These solutions capture end-user interaction with enterprise applications to help visualize and document end-to-end business processes across multiple apps.
2) Automate early and often: Let’s face it, no one has time to document business processes by hand or test them manually, especially when changes are made daily or even multiple times a day. The only way to ensure that business processes spanning complex enterprise applications work as designed is to use automated business process testing software. The focus here must be on the entire business process and not just any one particular enterprise application.
With high-speed business process testing, firms can routinely check 500,000+ business process steps in a matter of hours using multiple virtual machines. This automation technology provides unprecedented agility to deploy new solutions – with no compromise to quality or business process coverage.
3) Blur the boundaries between business and IT: Just as the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds are blurring, so are the boundaries between business and IT. Increasingly the line of business is deciding which enterprise applications to use and then requiring IT to integrate them into the overall enterprise application landscape. This requires IT to understand more of the business and business to understand more of the technology. So true collaboration between business and IT becomes indispensible.
Collaboration relies on communication — and the business process is the natural vehicle for that communication. The good news is that solutions today enable conversations around business processes, their variations, underlying applications, analytics, and execution quality. For example, today’s automation platforms allow business analysts and IT experts to sit side-by-side and have an unambiguously clear conversation about each business process and how it is implemented in enterprise systems. It’s a conversation that would have been difficult to have before the advent of automated business process discovery solutions.
4) Use Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to analyze & optimize: Capturing end-user interactions with your enterprise applications can uncover a wealth of information about how business is conducted. Artificial intelligence techniques can then be used on the vast amount of data collected to look for patterns, problems, and failures – to automatically identify areas where attention should be focused to add more business value or to fix something that is broken.
This hones in your focus and draws attention immediately to the most important aspects of running your business processes rather than sift through vast amounts of information provided by individual enterprise apps. For example, you may want to pay attention to paths in your business processes that are most frequently used or are used for your most valuable transactions. Or you may want to understand where failures occur most often or where end users have performance problems. This analysis can help optimize all aspects of your critical business processes. Automation solutions are designed to do exactly this kind of AI analysis for every core business process.
5) Create a Center of Excellence (COE): One of the most powerful things an enterprise can do to support a digital business strategy is to put in place a team with a charter and budget to make it work! If you don’t plan for success from the beginning, and plan to sustain your digital business efforts, they will not be successful. The move to digital business means change – and the downside of change is technology risk and business disruption of a rapidly changing environment. To accelerate your innovation and digitalization projects will require a proven methodology and automation tools to ensure the continued quality of every business process as you make the transition to digital business. The COE becomes the focal point for building and maintaining your competency in these critical areas.
Transforming into a digital enterprise can be a complex task for business units, CIOs and IT departments. But using solutions to automate business process discovery, analytics and testing, blurring the boundaries between business and IT, and establishing a center of excellence can accelerate this transformation and provide a significant competitive advantage.