Business processes are essential for companies to function efficiently. However, many processes involve repetitive, manual tasks that take up employee time and introduce errors. This is where enterprise automation comes in.
Enterprise automation refers to technology that aims to digitize, streamline, and automate complex business processes. This can include back office operations, front office activities, supply chain logistics, and beyond. The global enterprise automation market is projected to grow over 11% annually, reaching $22.7 billion by 2026.
Implementing automation delivers game-changing performance improvements and cost savings. A survey by Deloitte found that organizations automating processes saw on average:
This article will overview what enterprise automation entails, including processes to automate, leading technologies, real-world benefits, and tips for getting started.
Nearly any repetitive process involving substantial manual handling of data, documents, or transactions is a prime candidate for automation.
Behind-the-scenes business functions like finance, HR, and IT support tend to involve lots of form filling, report generation, records management, and queries. Upwards of 30% of activities in departments like accounting and administration can be automated, per McKinsey.
Customer-facing teams in areas like sales, marketing, and support handle high volumes of inquiries and leads. Automating lead distribution, contract generation, and customer communication can accelerate front office throughput significantly.
Coordinating production schedules, inventory, shipments, and deliveries entails endless status updates and paper trail management. Automation helps seamlessly share data between portals and partners.
There are a few broad categories of automation technology used to streamline business processes:
RPA tools use AI-enabled “software robots” to automate repetitive, rules-based tasks involving data transactions, copy-pasting across systems, Excel reports, and more. RPA adoption grew over 65% last year.
BPM software models entire workflows end-to-end to optimize their design. This helicopter view approach helps reshape processes for maximum efficiency through digitization before automating them.
AI tools apply technologies like natural language processing and optical character recognition to parse documents, categorize customer tickets, provide recommendations and more. AI-based automation is projected to deliver over $140 billion in global business value by 2030 according to PwC.
IDP leverages AI to automate document-centric processes like analyzing invoices, extracting information from paperwork, validating documents, and monitoring transactions. Over 65% of companies have achieved ROI from IDP as per an IBM survey.
From the shop floor to inventory control towers, manufacturers conduct thousands of routine transactions daily while handling diverse customer and supplier data.
John Deere automated over 175 business processes spanning order management, invoicing, vendor updates, and more. This RPA initiative saved over 100,000 manual work hours per year worth nearly $2 million.
Hospitals and clinics deal with enormous patient intake paperwork and records coordination with stakeholders. Document processing and customer service are prime for optimization.
Atrium Health automated patient appointment reminders and intake questionnaire analysis, reducing labor needs by 88%. This improved patient satisfaction scores as well.
Banks receive piles of account applications, tax forms, risk reports, and more requiring review, data entry, and verification. AI and RPA tools have helped leading BFSI players enhance quality assurance while cutting processing costs by 25-40%.
Choosing technologies that align to your specific process types, integration needs, and analytics ambitions is key for implementation success. Let’s explore some important evaluation criteria:
First, companies should conduct an “automation audit” detailing all the manual processes to optimize, steps involved, data sources, outputs required, and more. This bird’s eye visibility assists tool selection.
Some tools like RPA focus mainly on individual process automation, while BPM software oversees end-end workflows spanning cross-functional teams, business applications, and often external partners. Assess scope early on.
Certain tools specialize in extracting insights from automated processes through monitoring dashboards, predictive models, and other analytics. These are invaluable for optimizing over time.
Leading platform vendors serve distinct enterprise automation needs. Companies like UiPath and Automation Anywhere lead in RPA while Pega specializes in BPM and AI capabilities. Choosing tools tailored to current and future ambitions brings true efficiency.
However, even perfectly vetted software stumbles without a strategic adoption roadmap addressing change management, training, and rollout sequencing.
Experts suggest a few best practices to drive automation success:
Having leaders publicly endorse and sponsor process changes and technology investments fosters company-wide adoption. Assigning automation champions further aids the cause.
Refining software selection and customization through controlled pilot testing with small user groups enables learnings before company-wide deployment. This prevents cost and schedule overruns.
For any automation tool to deliver ROI, employees across the value chain must be skilled in leveraging new tech-enabled workflows through role-based instruction. Training helps secure user buy-in as well.
Following structured implementation strategies prevents missteps and helps companies extract full value from automation.
Like any business-critical software deployment, enterprise automation investments must demonstrate clear ROI through defined metrics for leaders to continue funding process improvements.
Comparing manual task costs pre and post deployment reveals automation’s financial impact. Leaders set goals for work hour reductions or percentage of task volume to automate within 12 months.
By monitoring key output metrics pre and post-launch across functions, the bottom line process improvements become tangible. Popular productivity KPIs include contracts finalized weekly, customer calls handled per agent, and inventory turns.
Automation technology inherently minimizes human error through digitization and rules-based processing. Metrics like compliance breach reduction, fewer customer complaint calls, or documents needing rework showcase quality gains.
Cutting the average time taken for key milestones demonstrates improved responsiveness from automation. Reduced lead follow-up time, faster claims processing turnaround, or decreased production plan adjustment lag showcase speed benefits.
Using robust analytics, firms can precisely track returns on automation investments and make improvements over time.
While basic automation tools have existed for years, new AI-based platforms truly replicate human judgment for delivering vastly enhanced value. Advances like conversational chatbots, predictive analytics, and natural language processing will soon become commonplace.
Leaders predict a paradigm shift where enterprises achieve “hyperautomation” – fully autonomous cross-department workflows merging RPA, AI, IDP, BPM, and more seamlessly thanks to maturing integration capabilities. IoT automation will also expand within complex settings like warehouses and retail stores.
Very soon, intelligently automating business processes at scale will no longer be a competitive advantage – but table stakes for remaining relevant. Now is the time for firms to fully leverage automation and ensure their operations are future-ready.
Enterprise automation encompasses various technologies aimed at streamlining business processes through digitization, analytics, and reduced human intervention. Solutions like RPA, AI, and BPM are driving immense efficiency gains, cost savings, and revenue growth across sectors.
However, thoughtfully auditing processes to automate, choosing the right software platforms for current and future needs, and ensuring smooth adoption through change management and training remains vital. Companies that approach enterprise automation strategically and comprehensively will become true leaders of tomorrow.