Article

The Evolving State of Digital Transformation

Intelligent Automation

Technology industry analysts tout refocusing budget and effort to digital transformation. Still, few provide the roadmap to reducing the effort to support the existing portfolio of systems and solutions. IT organizations are stretching to manage the current volumes. Organizations do not have the expertise and skills to undertake a digitization initiative. And implementing more advanced technologies is beyond their capabilities.  

To achieve the goals of digital transformation, organizations must address the ongoing operations and maintenance challenges inhibiting IT from shifting to innovation. Traditionally, organizations rely on manual processes, moving work to low-cost geographies, but the issues persist. In some cases, the problems have been compounded with time zone issues, language problems, and employee retention challenges. The issues lie not in the tactics but the overall strategy.  

The basic premise of low-cost assumes the resources are equivalent and individuals will contribute equally across departments, functions, and regions. The reliance on people adds a unique variable to the equation. There are great people with incredible skills, but scaling their capabilities is challenging at a minimum. The challenge is scaling for value, not the cost of a resource pool. 

The Metrics Based Approach to Automation

The solution is to develop a strategy to address people, process, and tooling. This approach takes a holistic view of the problem, but as mentioned above, most organizations do not have the bandwidth, expertise, and skills to remodel their IT ecosystem. The problem statement organizations must answer is, “how do we scale our capabilities without staling our resources on-shore and off?” 

At CAI, we focus on achieving a result versus a single variable cost. It appears rational to assume resources are equivalent, but we know people are all unique. The first step toward digital transformation is our understanding of your environment, systems, and limitations. We develop metrics to measure performance and identify problem areas, then we address those areas systematically, through documentation, training, and ultimately automation.  

Automation is a crucial tool to transform digitally. People require maintenance, oversight, and attrition to ensure a constant turning of talent within our organization. People are essential in the process, but many functions are repetitive, manual, and filled with inaccuracy. People make mistakes, especially the more complex the task, so the margin for error is high.  

Automation technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA), chatbots, and data & analytics, have improved, enabling more complex processes and tasks to be automated. But not all processes are ripe for automation, and it is critical to identify the right strategy and method(s). We highlight the word “methods” for a reason. CAI’s approach is to scope the automation problem and model the technologies required to solve the problem based on the desired result. A solution may include traditional data integration (ETL) paired with RPA to automate an entry or manual input with AI to help make decisions.  

The CAI approach enables our Intelligent Automation team the freedom to pull the right levers solving the problem. Creativity also leads to unique CAI intellectual property, including a volume document evaluation system to process thousands of records to evaluate specific criteria e.g., contract reviews for language. Or simple RPA solutions to eliminate time-consuming and error-prone manual processes with significant downstream impacts. Our inventory of solutions continues to grow and mature, automating more processes with less effort.  

CAI maintains a portfolio of industry-leading solutions, including UiPath, Rainbird, Astound, ABBYY, and Esphesoft. We are not license-driven to the dismay of our vendors and take a best-fit approach to the tool. We balance the capabilities, value, and cost to prioritize what tools to use and which processes to automate. Our specialization allows CAI to understand the tool capabilities to get the best result.  

The CAI Intelligent Automation Difference

Automation tools are readily available to all IT service providers. And we have seen a trend in our engagements of being the second vendor in an engagement. One of our clients is a regional Utility company; we assumed their less than successful automation implementation. Our team righted the initiative reducing licensing costs 65% with an ROI in 6 months.  

The turnaround is based on a holistic approach – setting the right expectations and addressing the big picture – people, process, and tools.  

CAI assumed its automation increased coverage from less than 30% to 88% in a separate engagement with a wire manufacturing organization. We reallocated 9 FTE’s to higher-value activities. Reallocating resources is a common theme with automation. We help organizations move headcount to increase value versus a focus on reducing people.  

The CAI internal finance and contingent workforce service teams have adopted our automation technologies, maintaining a staffing level in the face of double-digit year-over-year growth.  

Fewer people are doing more with automated tools, cutting hours and days in some cases to minutes. Our internal teams are “bought-in” and reap the benefits of switching their workload from manual entry to more value-adding activities in our business. A side benefit is our employees are happier and more fulfilled doing more challenging work.  

Like most technologies, it is not about the actual technology but more about how you manage, plan, and implement the technology to solve a specific problem. You need to know the technology capabilities and limitations, or automation will go south quickly.

 

Want more information about how to refocus budget and effort to digital transformation initiatives? We'd love to hear from you!

Intelligent Automation & COVID-19 

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way organizations are working today. Employees are now working remotely, and processes are morphing to support a fully digital landscape. The epidemic exposed gaps for organizations causing disruptions in day to day operations. Simple tasks, like invoice processing and check printing, posed significant challenges.

As organizations settled into a new routine, our clients started to assess the impacts. Many are not looking to automation to reduce the reliance on resources and to smoothing lumpy processes reliant on people.

The pandemic may do more for digital transformation and automation than any mandated initiative. The business and IT department are grappling with new challenges with a sense of urgency because there is no other option but to adjust quickly. Our clients are asking questions about real-life challenges and how to solve them to support the new norm.