Building Value with Automation – How CIOs Can Start Delivering Improved Productivity Quickly

The rate of innovation is set to accelerate further, and with that comes opportunity to improve productivity and more deeply redefine job roles across the business.


Will AI and automation “replace” jobs? Some of the more hyperbolic headlines would have you believe that millions of jobs are being superseded by AI and machines. McKinsey cites studies that suggest that between 75 million and 375 million people around the world will need to change occupational categories and acquire new skills by 2030, because the bulk of what they’re doing now will be taken over by automation.

Of course, what is often unsaid is that those jobs will liberate staff of the mundane work, and allow them to focus on higher value, more rewarding tasks. There is clearly a massive opportunity to delegate menial tasks and elevate ingenious efforts.  It is not so much that these jobs are being made redundant as it is that they are being redefined – for the better of both employee and employer. “Every role is going to be changed by technology and augmented - not necessarily replaced but made better,” Brenda Harvey, IBM General Manager, Asia-Pacific, said.

This is a leadership challenge that CIOs and other executives need to manage. The investment in AI and automation is critical, but the change management program needs to be there too to allay any fears about job redundancy. Equally, it is important that, across the organisation, automation returns value back to the organisation quickly to “prove” its worth.

Leading the change management charge

The first task is ensuring that all lines of business and executives are aligned with the automation vision. Automation can benefit each line of business in specific ways, Harvey said, which means the internal “pitch” to stakeholders needs to be specific to their challenges.

“Using HR as an example: with IBM we have a number of HR customers that are leveraging data and insights through an automated hiring process that's giving them ideal candidates that then they can get to quicker,” Harvey said. “It's not necessarily replacing their staff, but it's allowing them to work better to work smarter to actually handle more complex of situations and scenarios.

“Or in pharmaceuticals, they look to automation to help them actually get through drug discovery better or assist with materials research. They're getting information that has already been curated, and that helps them then take it to the next level.”

In manufacturing, automation is assisting with everything from marketing outreach to on-boarding vendors, fraud detection, order management, to name a few. In banking, enterprises are leveraging automation to rapidly speed up the loan approvals process, the customer experience, as well as enhancing the security of data and governance. By automating repetitive, manual tasks and processes, some banks have even seen their process completion times decreasing by 90%., thereby freeing their employees to focus on higher-value tasks.

Today, most lines of businesses have their own IT budgets, and there is a growing awareness that automating business processes can improve productivity, efficiency and bring higher levels of security in each unit. In this context, the CIO also needs to clearly articulate the expected alignment of business automation efforts with the company-wide vision to gain buy-in of all stakeholders.

Getting results fast

Business automation is critical to drive digital transformation, and as with any transformation project, it is not without risk for the CIO. BCG research shows that only 30% of transformations succeed in achieving their objectives.

Hence for enterprises, the key to the success of any transformation project is showing value quickly. This earns the buy-in of stakeholders and allows the CIO to accelerate from a small initial deployment to larger and broader transformation goals. Business automation is an excellent place to start a transformation strategy, as it can return productivity gains quickly, before the enterprise undertakes a wider AI strategy. As Harvey noted, this can be achieved by firstly rolling out some “quick wins” with business automation, highlighting the value of the solution, and then using the insights gained from the data gathered to further deepen the engagement with the technology.

“When we think about the actual implementation of automation, there are a number of key steps,” Harvey said. “Firstly, it’s really about discovering what’s in the business process, and then deciding which ones are best to automate, whether it’s with RPA [robotic process management], with workflow, or with any other kind of management within our products. And from there you optimize.”

“With business automation solutions that are powered by AI, you're getting back so many insights that it gives that ability to continue to drive greater value and a cycle of ongoing optimization, and that's one of the big things that we've seen happen with business automation and Cloud Pak for Business Automation.”

Built on Red Hat OpenShift, CIOs can leverage the Cloud Pak to present a platform for automation to the entire organization; one that can be deployed rapidly, with tight security, and provide a common foundation for all enterprise components that can deliver seamless integration across the entire organization.

Proof is in the ‘automation’

The true test of any transformation story lies in the business outcomes an organization can achieve. ‘Quick wins’ with business automation leads to a cohesive and long-lasting positive impact on a business, including but not limited to improved productivity, enhances customer experience and efficiency gains. And this stands true, irrespective of company size, location or industry.

To comply with stricter regulations, especially around customer data and privacy, Turkcell, an integrated telecommunications and technology services provider based in Turkey, needed to review and process millions of documents. By using IBM automation technology they were able reduce the time to perform data extraction from 2.5 years to 6 months.

CDG Prévoyance, a pension and provident funds entity leveraged IBM Cloud Pak for Automation to isolate specific processes for new development and automated approximately 50 core business process. Their new capabilities translate into greater convenience and speed of service. A process that took 5 days now takes 1 hour - almost an instant process, all online.

A large South Asian energy conglomerate, with a goal to become paperless, implemented their e-office Automation project on IBM BPM Workflow, a key offering under IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation. The solution was rolled out to 70+ locations, automated over 175 processes and helped provide a 24 X 7 support across NTPC through e-mail, helpdesk, mobile, and popular messaging platforms. Today, the solution can resolve 90%+ tickets within 6 hours. Hear more about the story in the IBM Think 2021 session “How the world's most transformative companies are scaling intelligent automation.

Becoming future-ready

Looking forward, CIOs that successfully establish the platform for automation and the cloud environments powered by IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation will be well-prepared for the next round of innovation, Harvey said.

“Predictive technology is really important and is already giving us suggestions before the actual problems happen. And all these capabilities are going to keep converging into these new applications. The barriers are really being taken away.”

For CIOs having a partner in the transformation with the experience and foresight as IBM can prove to be crucial. A partner that will assist in building the necessary automation platforms and iterative processes will allow the CIOs to continue to take advantage of innovations in automation and will be essential to future disruption. The rate of innovation is set to accelerate further, and with that comes opportunity to improve productivity and more deeply redefine job roles across the business.

To know more about the applied benefits of AI-powered automation, read about IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation here, or reach out for a free half-day Automation Solutioning Workshop.

*Do note that this is article is Part 1 of the ‘AI-Powered Automation for Driving Business Performance’ Series.


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