Intelligent automation for intelligent businesses
Signing off on an enterprise automation strategy should, on paper, be the easiest decision a CIO ever makes. What’s not to like? Automation increases speed and agility across the enterprise and improves customer experiences. However, the combination of emerging technologies, legacy systems and their siloed data, and outdated business processes is creating a perfect storm in organizations. So, deciding on a strategy for enterprise automation becomes considerably less black-and-white.
Businesses are feeling unprepared to embrace new – and disruptive – digital business models. They are finding it challenging to break free of convention and struggling to achieve the agility needed to transform. With the promise of “intelligent automation” now becoming a reality, it is essential for businesses to shake off any apprehension and set their sights on creating an environment where artificial intelligence (AI), business process management (BPM), and robotic process automation (RPA) can operate cohesively and effectively. Intelligent businesses are becoming synonymous with intelligent automation. The quicker business leaders can realise this, the better.
In a recent Gartner study, 59% of the participating IT professionals said their IT organisation is unprepared for the digital business of the next two years. This is a huge proportion of businesses not feeling ready for the inevitable. The weight of hundreds of complex business systems, diverse product lines and legions of data silos leave organisations paralysed and overwhelmed by complexity. As a result, businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to answer customer needs, keep pace with more digitally-savvy competitors, and respond to market fluctuations.
But this doesn’t need to be the case. AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and chatbots are available technologies today that, if adopted effectively, can change the face of business for the better. As an example, consider a common claims management process in the automotive insurance industry. As it stands, customers have to call their insurer to report an accident, then a claims adjuster schedules an appointment to assess the car’s damage. Once the damage has been assessed, the claim is processed. It’s a long-winded and expensive process for the insurer and of huge inconvenience to the customer. What if the insurer replaces this with a mobile application that the customer could use to take and submit photos of the damage? What if the picture could be analysed instantly to assess the damage and issue an instant claim through cognitive cloud services and sophisticated decision tree algorithms? This isn’t a pipe dream. This is a reality for intelligent businesses leveraging modern technology for the good of their organisation and for their customers.
Unfortunately, a typical IT team within an organisation can’t code fast enough and roll out game-changing applications just like that! It requires integration with existing systems, access to secured data, management of people and their interactions, and building intuitive user interfaces for different computers and devices that enable employees and customers to collaborate. This is where the concept of low-code development comes into play. For businesses with hundreds of disparate IT systems, ranging from resource planning to customer relationship management, building a new application or embracing automation can be hugely daunting. Traditionally, programmers would have had to manually code and create applications, map out data relationships and build all the required integration. However, by combining BPM, AI, and RPA in a low-code development platform, organisations can deliver transformational applications faster than ever before without integration headaches. A BPM engine can orchestrate everything: all the human activities, when the robots get dispatched to access legacy systems for simple and repetitive actions, and when the process call out to cognitive services to deliver back intelligence gleaned from massive data sets. Together, these technologies provide the foundation for intelligent automation and business transformation.
As an example, Aviva, the UK’s leading insurer, uses intelligent automation to accelerate customer responsiveness. Using Appian, Aviva consolidated many different underlying systems into a single intuitive interface. The benefits Aviva has seen include:
- Consolidation of the front- and back-office teams into a single customer service team
- 9x acceleration of customer service response time
- 40% reduction in service costs
- Consolidation of 22 underlying business systems
In this case, the solution provides a 360-degree view of the customer to the service team, enabling them to provide better service and to centrally manage all customer requests. This is intelligent automation in action.
More than simply a powerful technology tool, an enterprise platform integrating BPM, AI, and RPA software delivers many business benefits. However, each of these technologies can be complex to deploy. When coupled with low-code development, these advanced technologies become significantly faster and easier to implement.
Despite businesses feeling unprepared for new, digital models, they must navigate a course towards digital transformation or risk losing out. Building the right apps – quickly – can accelerate and streamline processes, reinvent customer experiences and reposition a business amongst its competitors. It now remains to be seen which intelligent businesses embrace intelligent automation. It’s the easiest decision they’ll ever make.
Paul Maguire, Vice President, Europe, Appian
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.