Over a year into the pandemic, past, present, and future have imploded into one digital transformation imperative for business leaders: Intelligently transform daily processes for a more resilient future. Leaders have discovered much more than the link between in-person contact and business vulnerability
They’ve found that the next phase of digital automation delivers far greater efficiencies from far more connected business processes company-wide. Think of it as digitalization on steroids.
“Companies are faced with a business reality that demands digital transformation in a holistic way,” said Rouven Morato, general manager of Business Process Intelligence at SAP. “Leaders are adopting an end-to-end, data-driven perspective to better understand how they run their business today and decide how they want to run it in the future.”
Business-Led Data Intelligence Ends the IT Backlog
Today’s business process intelligence is emphatically not yesterday’s approach to increasing efficiencies. Take robotics, which are hardly revelatory. What’s brilliant are the data-driven analyses fueling the latest intelligent robotic process automation (RPA) solutions. Using connected information from all relevant processes, companies can precisely identify areas for automated, intelligent, and innovative improvements that will make the biggest difference. The impact of this business-led strategy is profound.
“With low-code/no-code tools, educated citizen developers outside of the IT department can determine where the problems are and, working together with IT, automate processes for significant efficiencies and business results,” said Morato.
Automation Solves Business Problems That Matter
Intelligent automation can address numerous business pain points by revealing gaps in process execution, making correlations to find the root cause. For example, data can show that late paying customers received their invoice without the purchase order, which needed to be manually attached. Employees may find it cumbersome to manually locate and attach each purchase order to the invoice, or they may forget to include it. An RPA-based bot can automatically bring the invoice and purchase order together to solve this problem. Speeding up the order-to-cash process has financial and operational benefits for the entire company.
In procurement, intelligent automation can quickly root out so-called ‘maverick buying’ where people circumvent company policy to source products and services. Automated data intelligence can surface procurement anomalies anywhere in the workflow, connecting these transactions across finance and other parts of the business. Companies can use the data for employee education – “Here’s our cost savings from company buying policies” – adding automation to prevent future non-compliance.
Establish Process Management as a Discipline
Disconnected projects, however well intentioned, are among the biggest pitfalls in digital transformation. It’s not unusual for companies to forge ahead with what appeared to be effective improvements, only to become mired in worsening problems a year or two later.
“Make process management a discipline with the tooling to understand how much a process actually costs, how many steps are required, and the impact on other processes throughout the company and beyond,” said Morato. “That’s why SAP acquired Signavio. Its process management and mining tool sets complement our process analyses, KPIs, and process flows that are on top of SAP S/4HANA. Together, we help organizations simulate changes so they can make process improvements using intelligent automation, helping transform their process landscape.”
Translating Jargon Into Business Value
End-to-end business process transformation is one of those jargony terms that’s easy to dismiss. In the context of business process automation, its meaning is particularly important. It translates to making sure that people using new processes understand what’s changed and are able to actually carry out those changes. It also means people can capture the value of those changes to the business for continuous improvements. The only valuable end game is a never-ending quest for greater efficiencies and differentiation.
Bear in mind too that transformation for its own sake has no business value. Make the commitment to analyze problems and then figure out how to solve them in sustainable ways.
“You need to get away from gut feelings. Look at your data and use the technology to teach you where the problems are and how to fix them,” said Morato. “Let the data speak for itself. Business process transformation is part of RISE with SAP, helping companies generate more business value from their technology investments, in this case, with process efficiencies. Think of it as the door opener to the next chapter of your digital journey.”
Well into 2021, it’s clear that digitalization is the difference between success and failure. Leaders have found intelligent technologies represent a major opportunity for business differentiation and resiliency.
Follow me: @smgaler
This story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice on Forbes.