While driving enterprise-wide automation within an organization is absolutely a team sport, the person with overall responsibility for the automation function plays a crucially important role.
If only it was as easy as the title of this article might suggest though: suddenly on Monday morning, you would have C-level status achieved, getting a regular voice at the corporate roundtable, and realizing all the benefits the new position brings.
In speaking with several heads of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and intelligent automation departments, many have grown their automation programs from scratch in their organizations over the last few years. A small amount of those people I talked with were truly operating at scale, while others have well-established programs but are experiencing a plateau. But others have not yet scaled their automation programs beyond the quick wins.
All were buoyed and enthusiastic by the clear opportunity they know that hyperautomation can bring to employees and the organization. But they spoke about being regularly stifled by having to balance and adapt within corporate dynamics (often sitting at an intersection between business and technology). There are a lot of variables to get right – not being on top of just one of the variables can significantly set an automation program back.
Not to mention that the RPA market is also the fastest growing (and changing) technology area out there. Just keeping up can be hard enough!
There is now plenty of help and advice for success scaling automation depending on where you are in the automation lifecycle. The automation scaling resources have been borne out of the many learnings in the industry from the last few years with end users, technology providers, consulting companies, and analyst firms providing more and more support within the ecosystem. But while executing automation fundamentals well is essential, leadership is much more than that.
There are a handful of chief automation officers (CAOs) out there. Not many, but they exist. And UiPath is very fortunate to work with a few. CAO is a fairly new title, and so definitions are hard to come by. Ultimately, the CAO has full accountability and mandate for the automation strategy, automation operating model, governance framework, and benefits realization in applying hyperautomation capabilities to business process improvement across the enterprise. And as a result, unlocking maximum value from within the workforce.
Achieving those goals starts with a CAO showing a clear connection to corporate objectives by understanding exactly how the business wins, and what operational capabilities are needed that are not currently there. Then, the CAO should map how automation will help address those areas. The output is the automation strategy, which also acts as an agreement with the business on where to place focus and where not to focus. There also needs be internal alignment regarding where investment will go and where it won’t. It’s the ticket to the game of becoming a CAO – coupled with universal core skills for senior leadership such as robust communication at all levels, change management aptitude, and people development.
To be successful, a CAO also needs to encourage and foster curiosity throughout the organization to discover automation opportunities.
It’s hard to think of many other roles that can truly and tangibly help connect the dots between strategy and execution in a company.
But the purpose of this article is not to suggest storming into the CEO’s office to demand a new job title. What it is suggesting is to always maintain that CAO mindset: an unrelenting ambition to drive an ‘automation first’ culture with the business and letting that drive the necessary activity.
The intentionally provocative statement in the heading is to (hopefully) positively challenge thinking. It’s not a new idea: fire yourself and hire yourself back is well-practiced executive guidance to help leaders evolve according to changing needs. And needs are definitely changing!
For those whose primary responsibility is automation within their organizations, strong leadership is now more important than ever. And it’s why UiPath supports the personal development and growth of our clients, as well as the automation program success itself.
So, hire yourself back on Monday. And good luck with the new role!
Anthony Kolodynski is Regional Vice President of Sales for United Kingdom and Ireland at UiPath.