Now that’s a strong statement we are making. It’s not based on whims and fancy, but thorough research based on facts.

Let us understand this through a story.

“Some time ago, I met Joe (not the famous Joe the plumber- who gathered much attention during US presidential election) but a small business owner dealing into household furniture. Joe’s business was flourishing, and he wanted to scale and expand his business in different locations. He had all the expertise and know-how to multiply his business but was lacking funds. Naturally, it comes to anyone to approach a financial institution for monies. Joe applied for a loan for the business, filling all the documents given by his Bank, and he got a receipt of loan application with a unique number.

Bank had automated all the routine processes like filling up the form by an application and had mapped all business processes of physical document verification, credit history, approvals, and disbursals. It had all the workflows needed to take the necessary actions by individuals for loan processing. These being internal processes had their timelines, pace, and rules.

Meanwhile, Joe was waiting for updates about the status of his loan application and making individual calls and emails to know the stages and status. Every time would explain the case with different bank executives who had no prior idea or information regarding the status.

Simultaneously, Joe was considering if he could top up the loan amount in the preceding submitted application. He approached the Bank, and they replied that for a top-up loan, he might need to apply again, and follow the same process.

Joe was losing precious time and could not do anything. He was frustrated with the process set up, which could not offer flexibility for his growing needs.

Now, where did the things go wrong here?

  • Joe as an applicant had done his bit as per the process set by the Bank
  • Bank had automated all the process to felicitate smooth transaction and improved customer experience

But the outcome neither served Joe’s purpose, and Bank got a frustrated customer.

The reason lies not with (Robotic) Process Automation but Intelligent and Integrated Process Automation.

There was nothing wrong with the Automation which the Bank did for its processes, but it did not fathom the needs which could arise from an ever-growing diverse base of customers and their wants.

The motivation for the Bank was driven by cost reduction, compliance, revenue improvisation. Automation did look like a tactical advantage, but where it missed the silver lining is that by doing Automation with just a combination of user interface and surface level, non-invasive integration to automate routine, predictable data transcription work will not improve customer experience and radical growth.

Enterprises today still run the way they were doing business years ago. In contrast, the rest of the consumer ecosystems of their offerings have changed radically and enveloped a plethora of dimensions. Silos-based Automation of functional processes in customer service, support, finance, and HR isn’t enough to holistically meet the customer demands as well as the fruitful business outcomes. With Robotic Process Automation, what enterprises have done is to automate the mundane manual task, removing headcounts, and put some compliance and standardization in its processes. What RPA has not helped enterprises with is rewriting their business processes. RPA has just helped them move the data around faster with fewer manual interventions. Most of the RPA cases and implementations have not addressed the unattended cases, the intrinsic business processes, which is so fundamental to the businesses.

According to a recent Gartner Research,

“Through 2021,

40% of the enterprises will have RPA buyer’s remorse due to misaligned, siloed usage, and ability to scale.”

“By 2021, 50% of the robotic process automation (RPA) implementations will fail to deliver a sustainable ROI.”

RPA may offer an excellent band-aid approach to bring Automation to business processes. Still, it does not give a holistic approach that is aligned with the business strategy of an enterprise to drive on the path of organic growth with knowledge work across different functions and impeccable customer experience.

The piecemeal approach for Automation is bound to fail, and the cure is Integrated and Intelligent Process Automation.

I have always believed in one principle that “Technology should help run Businesses and not the other way around.”

Technologies are changing at a neck-break speed, and it’s important to bring in people and processes together as an integrated framework that amalgamates into well-oiled machinery. It takes care of fundamental business processes, communication, and support channels, knowledge work (tacit included) with improved customer experience.

Just putting some software applications together to solve some problems or cater to only one process omits the overall gamut of customers’ operations and expectations. Automation needs to have touchpoints that should inspire innovations, bring in new ideas, create new avenues of doing things with efficiency, and meeting the business outcomes. The end goal for any process automation is finally transforming the enterprises into radical growth and provide exceptional customer experiences.

A unified approach across people, process, and technology, which is driven by domain understanding, business functions, process mining, analytical data churn, omnichannel, and last but not the least humanizing with last-mile touchpoint being customers.

Integrated Process Automation can provide

  1. Unified approach:Bringing together all data points and applications running in silos, be it in the cloud or inhouse in one meaningful automation process, which is essential for catering to an intrinsic business process. With Automation removing the manual interventions, technologies such as Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, can be used to bring out the pattern and data-based analytics for better business process modeling. Chatbots based on NLP and NLU can help understand and provide better support with the right understanding and policy based on self-learning capability and adoption.

According to a Gartner Research,

“By 2022, 65% of the organizations that deployed robotic process automation will introduce artificial intelligence, including machine learning and natural language processing algorithms.”

  1. Change Management:It’s not just about putting some applications together using Automation but also aligning the various functions such as finance, HR, customer service, support together to be cohesive. Also, knowledge-based, finally enabling them to be more productive, efficient, and to offer excellent customer service. Enterprises can become more agile and flexible on their products and offerings, contracts, service extensions based on the data analysis and churn with IPA bringing the change management as part of the culture across the functional spectrum.
  2. Rewriting Business Processes: With an integrated approach to a different applications(legacy systems, support models) IPA using Machine learning, and AI can help rewrite business process and new models would take away the unwanted mundane process still capturing the critical and intrinsic process which are tacit in nature. One such example could be in customer service wherein product replacement and return policy can be drafted based on customer buying history, loyalty, and other social reference points such as feedbacks, etc.

Now Let’s finish the story.

How IPA and not just Automation could have addressed the need of Joe (the carpenter) as well as the Bank.

  1. An Open Communication Channel for the Applicant 

Once Joe filled his application for the loan, he was disconnected from the process. In contrast, Banks could have created a communication channel covering the status of his loan applications, a transparent review cycle, any feedback he may have had, and any special request (in this case, top-up loan request). Had such an integrated mechanism existed, it would have been a lot easier to be in the scheme of things and provide his inputs as and when needed or any special request. This process would have saved his time, and experience would have been a lot better.

  1. An AI and ML-based Data discovery engine mapping creditworthiness

As Joe was an existing customer, the Bank could have analyzed his past transaction history and business dealings with them, and a proactive approach could have emerged with a credit-worthiness meter as to how many maximum loans he could get with the existing data. The Bank could also have shared this information with Joe as he could afford maximum while his creditworthiness was being reviewed. Joe could have acted on time with this insight with a Top-up loan request and not having to go through the process cycle again, saving his critical time for planning and expansion activities for his business.

  1. Banks input on Specific industry growth based on ML and data science

Banks do have data on what is performing, and non-performing loan assets based on the history of loans granted as per industry, sector, and customer profiling. This process could be done with the data churn using machine learning and different models. Banks could have acted as a consultant suggested the way industry is growing and the emerging markets to put the funds in. It would have increased the confidence in Joe in taking Banks’ services with trust and seeing them as a partner and not the one who is just financing the loans. After all, Automation with Machine learning would eventually have helped banks sell more such services to such customer sets.

  1. On-demand support assistance.

One of the causes of Joe’s dissatisfaction was dealing with support systems of the Bank, wherein he had to struggle to get information and put requests. Why all this because the bank had different functions of loan processing, credit agency, approvals, and disbursals.

These were primarily siloed applications that needed manual intervention to deduce and act. An Intelligent RPA infused with AI and ML could have provided a chatbot based on-demand assistance to him to query, request, and feedback anytime, anywhere. 

The crux of the story is that Automation should not be just looked like a vehicle to put processes in code/steps but bring people (read customers) closer to the offering (be it product or service) by enterprises. The more integrated and intelligent it is, the faster is the drive to radical growth. It’s the “AND” and not the “OR” that matters.

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