With a growing number of organizations driving transformation through Intelligent automation, we thought it would be welcome to provide a perspective that was inclusive of a customer viewpoint. We sat down with Brent Kuhls from Raytheon Technologies and explored some of the reasons why we see the rise of interest and discussed considerations needed for a successful journey.
In a search for increased productivity, better customer service and competitive advantage, businesses small and large are rethinking how day to day work can be improved.
There are many options that have gained market penetration including:
For the past years we have seen a growing market adoption of Intelligent Automation (IA). A concept leveraged by solutions like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Chat bots, Machine Learning (ML), Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Low code platforms and a growing number of surrounding solutions that support the same concept of automating business process execution outside the enterprise applications used by the business.
IA promises transformative value to be gained across every industry and each business area. Many use cases demonstrate its potential time and again. Yet few businesses have gone to the extend to deploy IA at any meaningful scale across the organization.
Is IA’s promise more limited than originally thought? Has IA been surpassed by better options?
The answers are as can be expected a lot more nuanced and depend on a number of factors that play a role in an organization’s adoption of IA.
The business objectives of an organization will prioritize where funding and focus will lie for one or more years. Organizations focused on cost savings may naturally find themselves looking at IA while organizations that are growing fast may not look to IA as a first focus. We may find the supporting functions like say Finance looking for assistance to cope with a growing company while other areas have no appetite to consider it at all.
Market & Business events
Any plans can easily be disrupted by unforeseen events. A global pandemic, regulatory changes or an acquisition are just a few scenarios that can delay any plans for IA for months or even longer. Market or Business driven events have a tendency to overtake priority and leave little room for innovation of the business model.
Leadership sets the tone, the priority and most importantly budget. For organizations that have not yet started or are just embarking on IA, a change in leadership can mean a significant delay or a shift altogether in priorities. Even when new leadership is aligned with prioritizing IA it can easily derail any initiatives by months while new marching orders are implemented.
Even when all the business priorities are aligned, funding is approved, leadership secured and disruption remains at bay, there is another barrier to success that needs to be overcome. The organization itself may not be fully ready to take advantage of a scaled automation program. Readiness or Maturity can be looked at from a few dimensions: System maturity as an example may require organizations to prioritize migration or upgrades before adopting automation. Process maturity could lead to a similar delay in IA adoption where an organization may first attempt to move processes to a shared services structure before looking to automate.
The ability for an organization to adopt change remains an equal critical factor for success. Many IA programs therefore advocate for a Center of Excellence (COE) to be implemented. In part because IA is somewhat different from traditional programs but mainly to ensure that a proper governance model is in place, even if an organization does not already have one. Intelligent Automation is often a grass roots initiative with little to no executive funding driven by one line of business at first. In these situations, adoption becomes as much about governance as it is about communication. Internal marketing and evangelization of the organizational ability and applicability to the business becomes the catalyst for adoption.
Bridging the gap
When you consider all the possible challenges that can derail an IA initiative, it’s no longer a surprise to see that many organizations are struggling to commit and execute on an enterprise-wide program for IA.
There are however many ways we can mitigate the risks and increase our chances of success:
Most organizations take a crawl, walk, run approach to IA. Bitten by failed large initiatives in the past and little appetite and budget to engage on large, multi-year programs, organizations are often in favor to small iterative projects they can build on.
While effective and valuable, it creates a lack of executive buy-in of focus and funding that is needed to build momentum. Even when smaller initiatives provide massive returns, the transition to a program still requires the heavy lifting. More importantly, the transition from a small engagement to a large program requires different stakeholders and budgets. The lack of speed in transition from small to meaningful becomes a deterrent in the organization as the perception solidifies that IA is only applicable for smaller challenges.
When it’s not possible to start big, enlisting the right stakeholders and obtaining their sponsorship upfront can make a significant difference in driving the initiative post initial success. Sponsorship is more than approval. It requires enough buy-in to provide support to overcome challenges and to have a stakeholder who will take it to the next level when the value is proven.
Use a Partner
A true partner, not just a delivery partner. Yes it will take time to build internal skill so using a partner to speed up your learning curve is wise. A partner will assist you throughout your journey giving you an expert by your side at every hurdle. More importantly though, a partner is highly motivated to speed up success of the program and this is exactly what you would want to have in your corner.
Q&A Section with Brent Kuhls
Where does Intelligent Automation (IA) sit within Raytheon Technologies Corporation (RTX)?
< Brent > Intelligent Automations Center of Excellence is placed within Global Enterprise Services with many extensions or spokes within our business units.
How is the program organized? (Is it part of Business Process Improvement or separate?)
< Brent > We strive to promote and enable innovation throughout the businesses. The central team has responsibility for maintaining our infrastructure, application level (RPA, BPMS, OCR, Database Services etc) support. That same team also has responsibility for defining and governing development standards, creating new integrations between applications, performing code (development) review and providing on-going production support.
We have many design and development teams that are working with functional partners as part of a budgeted initiative – essentially we embed a design and development POD within a value stream for the duration of a transformation project. We also intake new automation / application opportunities on a case-by-case basis, assessing the business justification and the potentially scalability to the entire organization.
What events caused RTX to have an Intelligent Automation program?
< Brent > Within the last year we have completed a large merger between United Technologies Corporation (UTC) and Raytheon to form Raytheon Technologies Corporation. Both organizations began their Intelligent Automation journey with investments in RPA. UTC invested heavily within Global Financial Services and Raytheon with Operations.
Raytheon dove deeply expanding RPA. UTC pivoted and expanded the breadth of automations to create composite applications integrating RPA, BPMS, Analytics and other Intelligent Automation tools.
Both organizations are now one creating composite applications and consolidating learnings.
Who pays for Automation?
< Brent > Two pathways for funding.
How are stakeholders motivated to participate in IA initiatives?
< Brent > Good question. We like to go where the energy is – ideas are raised or started within functions, we join and support innovation, focus on the process and then align the correct technologies.
As an organization we are extremely focused on continuous improvement and almost all transformation projects now involve a swim lane for automation.
We work very diligently to develop champions within our function and businesses that help identify new automation opportunities.
How does IA overcome the challenges of being pushed aside for other priorities? Or does it?
< Brent > I’m sure you can see me smiling on this question. We have had major initiatives and merger and acquisition activity every year that the formal program has existed.
We have found the means to align with our Global Process Owners to support those initiatives and in many cases help expedite activities that would normally equate to scrambling to find qualified, temporary staffing.
We have found some major wins while aligning and support our internal consumer needs resulting in meeting strategically important initiatives, major cost savings and even a patent submission.
When comparing IA initiatives to alternative options to transformation (from a value return perspective), how does it stack up? Is it consistently better or worse? Does it depend on the situation?
< Brent > Often it depends on the situation, however, that’s an easy answer here Johnny.
Where we generally find that automation makes sense:
What challenges have you seen with setting up and growing the program?
< BRENT > Typical challenges
Authors Brent Kuhls & Johnny Ramondino
webinar april 8 2021: Morton Salt Automates Sales Order Processing with Blue Prism RPA & Invoke ARIA
Each year our client has over $7 billion worth of inventory flowing through its distribution centers. This inventory requires careful handling, special storage and has a short shelf-life. Throughout the course of business, incorrectly coded products occur as part of daily operations and when this happens the product is sold at distressed prices or even destroyed.
Leveraging Robotic Process Automation (RPA), mislabeled products are captured each day and escalated to distribution center and supply planning personnel who can quickly and accurately correct inventory. Process owner working and robot work together to avoid loss of inventory. The speed and accuracy of the automated part of the process allow for timely capture of data issues and proper handling.
INTELLIGENT AUTOMATION IN SUPPLY CHAIN: HOW LEADING BRANDS LEVERAGED DIGITAL WORKERS FOR RESILIENT AUTOMATION
The Hershey Company is an excellent example of how Intelligent Automation (IA) can significantly impact common and not so common business challenges in today’s world. Now, more than ever, businesses are looking to drive their transformation through agile and scalable IA solutions so that its business value directly impacts results for its customers.
Blue Prism and Invoke joined forces to bring you an exclusive webinar with Hershey to discuss how intelligent automation made their supply chain resilient:
ARE YOU READY TO GET STARTED ON YOUR AUTOMATION JOURNEY?
If this webinar and use cases inspired you to explore the impact that intelligent automation can have on your business, be sure to reach out to our team to learn more.
INVOKE upgrading its certification, becomes one of only a handful of companies that is Triple certified in Blue Prism
INVOKE, a specialist in Intelligent Automation, announces today that it upgraded its certification status with Blue Prism, a leading RPA and Intelligent Automation solution provider, becoming triple certified.
As more organizations realize the transformational benefits of Intelligent Automation, the demand for solution providers like INVOKE has skyrocketed. This has led to many new consulting companies rushing to enter the field causing disappointing results for customers.
We understand that it’s hard for customers to know who they can trust to help them through this journey. Picking the wrong partner can have significant impacts on the ability to grow the program and its ultimate success. The certification processes we invest in with our partners require our employees to be certified, our projects to be evaluated, and most importantly our customers to confirm our quality of work and their happiness to work with us. We are extremely proud that our customers have given us over 97% satisfaction rating.”
With most solution companies racing to certify in one category, INVOKE sets itself apart with three certifications as the comprehensive solution provider that is dedicated and experienced in all disciplines.
Learn more about INVOKE’s work with Blue Prism at www.invokeinc.com/blue-prism.
About Blue Prism
Blue Prism is the global leader in intelligent automation for the enterprise, transforming the way work is done. At Blue Prism, we have users in over 150 countries in more than 1,800 businesses, including Fortune 500 and public sector organizations, that are creating value with new ways of working, unlocking efficiencies, and returning millions of hours of work back into their businesses. Our digital workforce is smart, secure, scalable, and accessible to all; freeing up humans to re-imagine work. Blue Prism’s vision is to provide a digital workforce for every enterprise. To learn more visit www.blueprism.com and follow us on Twitter @blue_prism and on LinkedIn.
As a comprehensive service provider for intelligent automation and a long-standing partner of Blue Prism, INVOKE has the unique ability to advise, train, implement, host, and operate your intelligent automation. We believe that transformation happens at the crossroads of business and technology and provide you with the expertise and turn-key solutions to drive digital transformation from concept to execution. To learn more visit www.invokeinc.com and follow us on Linkedin.
Intelligent Automation is nearing mass adoption in enterprise corporations. Now is a perfect time for us to reflect back on the lessons learned from the trailblazers that have come before us.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to address a few of the most common sources of failure for organizations adopting intelligent automation both to start your journey, and to scale it within the organization. Today we are starting with one that often catches people by surprise: Infrastructure.
Let me give you fair warning. If you are reading this and are getting excited at the prospect of casting blame on your IT Infrastructure team, you are not going to like what I have to say. While a project failure may be linked to your organizational infrastructure, it is not to say that your infrastructure team is at fault.
IA DEMANDS A DIFFERENT KIND OF IT STACK
All too often Intelligent Automation (IA) is considered as another software stack for IT to set up and the business to operate. Unfortunately, this approach creates a spiral of activities that adds significant friction for the proper implementation and management of IA, and can lead the entire program grinding to a halt. The IA stack by its very nature is a very different beast than traditional solutions. It doesn’t store transactional data, users don’t operate on it and it completely changes the ongoing business operating model. Yes, this is strange but intentional.
Take the example of RPA. When systems are deployed in support of RPA, the systems (the infrastructure) become the resources used by the business. They are not the supporting tools the business uses, they ARE the resources.
As such, the business needs to have far more control over how their resources (virtual machines) are managed. The business needs to decide:
Just consider that a typical infrastructure environment has specialized skills and teams for:
THE CHALLENGE DOESN’T STOP THERE
For those programs that do make it through the first round, we often find ourselves right back at addressing similar challenges as soon as we introduce a second or third IA technology solution.
In short, organizations have optimized infrastructure for a large set of technology solutions that support enterprises and give the ability to scale while managing the rapidly increasing demanding compliance requirements.
Intelligent Automation introduces a different set of business requirements that don’t fit into this model and requires a different approach altogether.
A LACK OF COMMITMENT
Most IA journeys today are not part of a larger transformation program as is common with complex IT-related initiatives like implementing ERP solutions. Instead, they are incubated as a small pilot program either; within IT or one line of business.
While I am the first to applaud such efforts to incubate change, they do compound the infrastructure challenge laid out above. These programs are not big enough to involve all the stakeholders, demand a change in procedure, properly educate the staff, or even warrant sufficient resource dedication for implementation and ongoing support.
HOW TO AVOID THE INFRASTRUCTURE CHALLENGE
Your approach will change based on how you start your journey. Here are a few suggestions
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