Kate McDaniel is Blogs Editor at UiPath.
We’ve talked a lot in recent months about why it’s time to automate, what process companies should automate first, and how they can get started today. For our recent UiPath Live: It’s Time to Automate event, we turned the mic over to our in-house experts, customers, and automation practitioners to get their thoughts on why, what, and how to automate now. Across every industry, event guests echoed our belief that automation is uniquely able to help companies become more agile and resilient during this unprecedented moment in history.
If you missed the show, don’t worry. Here are four main takeaways our speakers brought up during the live event.
1. Companies must be fearless, not timid, in the face of new opportunities
Now isn’t the time for half-baked changes. To succeed in the new future of work, you have to jump into automation now, not next month or next year.
“The companies [that] succeed will take it as an opportunity, not a lockdown,” said Tom Davenport , the President's Distinguished Professor of IT and Management at Babson College, during the Live event. “You can’t just dabble; you have to do [automation] on a large scale and it has to be tied to the business.”
His advice lines up with what we’ve heard from our customers: to see the benefits of automation and reach unprecedented levels of agility and resilience, you have to go all-in at every level. This means looking beyond Robotic Process Automation (RPA) alone and committing to a strategy that embraces all of the hyperautomation tools available to you, including artificial intelligence (AI).
“RPA is just the start of the journey. To really achieve intelligent automation, you need to look beyond it and integrate advanced machine learning capabilities such as OCR, NLP, etc.,” said Kyle Cousin, head of digital service line at Takeda, during Live.
Doing so won’t just make your business more efficient; it will help you respond faster to future disruptions and make it easier to quickly pivot operations.
Or, as Rajesh Garg, group chief financial officer (CFO) at Landmark Group, told us: “Not having dependencies on physical infrastructure, not having dependencies on also getting people to do certain tasks, is definitely going to help keep the basic infrastructure going.”
But to keep those core processes going, companies need to put hyperautomation tools at the center of their strategies. The key to doing this well is encouraging employees to find automation opportunities within their daily work.
“Employees who have the initiative to automate their work tasks are actually the most valuable employees you can have,” said Davenport.
By leaning into all the potential use cases for automation in your company from the bottom up, you’ll be able to charge through current and future disruptions head on.
2. Leaders should invest in their most valuable asset: people
You can buy every shiny tool on the market, but if your people aren’t trained to use them or on board with why they should, all the software in the world won’t move the needle toward progress.
As companies continue to change their strategies and reimagine how their operations should work, they need to invest in their most valuable asset: people. These well-trained, and well-motivated, humans will carry the improvements you make today into the future of work.
“We are investing our biggest assets that our companies have, and that’s our people and our employees,” said Oleg Royz, vice president (VP) of global digital transformation and RPA at Nielsen, during the July Live event.
Royz and other experts know that the more invested your people are in the technology and processes they use daily, the more they can do innovative, valuable work.
“People are really the glue that holds these processes together,” Royz reaffirmed.
So, invest in your people and empower them to use automation to improve their lives, and they’ll repay you by doing their work even better than before. Or, as Royz told us, “People know their work, and we need to rely on them to bring their ideas forward.”
The best way to do this is to use a hybrid governance approach that includes both top-down guidance from your robotic Center of Excellence (CoE) and grassroots automation ideas from your employees.
A hybrid model builds trust throughout the company by treating everyone’s ideas as valuable and making sure automation helps each person working for you.
Because at the end of the day, as Daniel Turi, head of financial data management at Allianz Suisse, told us, the most important thing to remember is that automation should make it easier to be human.
3. Companies must change how they measure automation success
As tempting as it is to focus everything on bottom-line savings during difficult times, doing so hurts your progress. Seriously, resist the urge.
Instead, as our experts told us during the Live event, leaders should shift their attention to the people they help by measuring success in terms of hours—not dollars—saved.
Putting the dollar at the core of everything you do is a short-sighted response to today’s problems. Plus, it puts your automation experts in the middle of a financial back and forth that wastes time and energy.
Royz experienced this firsthand when Nielsen started out measuring dollar savings early in its automation journey. He found himself spending more time caught in the debate of hard vs. soft savings than he did actually saving the company time and money by scaling automation.
So, Nielsen shifted how it viewed success and started measuring hours saved. This better supported the mission Royz articulated of automating “anywhere and everything to inspire creative work.”
Then down the line, he told us, their hours-saved key performance indicator (KPI) could be expanded to drive additional, secondary metrics that each stakeholder cared about, like fewer errors and reduced process waste.
4. Businesses can take actionable steps today to achieve agility and resilience
The world as we knew it has changed, and the way organizations approach new technological initiatives has shape-shifted with it.
Automation, and the agility and resilience it fuels, is no longer a wish list item for you to consider next quarter or next year. It’s a must-have initiative that you can—and must—take steps to harness ASAP.
You have to adopt automation fast because you need to adapt fast, too. The new sense of urgency has kicked enterprise transformation into high gear.
Thankfully, you can take measurable steps toward automation adoption today. Doing so will let you build out automated workflows on top of your existing tool stack and ensure that the next time a crisis hits, your operations don’t miss a beat.
If you missed our event—and all the tips on how to get started with automation today that experts discussed—you can catch the UiPath Live: It’s Time to Automate recording here.