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The automation paradox: Identifying when your system is holding you back

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By Sanjeev Menon, Co-Founder and Head of Product & Tech at E42

Businesses across industries are embracing automation to streamline workflows, boost efficiency, and gain a competitive edge. However, the path to automation success isn’t always smooth. Many organisations grapple with a paradox: their initial automation efforts, once hailed as game-changers, eventually become bottlenecks hindering further growth.

Let’s take a closer look at where and how enterprise automation can go wrong. This article delves into five key signs that indicate your enterprise automation might be affecting your progress, along with insights on what to look for in next-generation automation solutions.

When basic automation limits progress

An accounts payable department swamped with invoices implements an automation solution that flawlessly processes basic, standardized invoices. But what happens when they encounter a surge in international invoices with varying formats and languages? The initial automation tool, designed for a limited task, falters. This scenario exemplifies the limitations of basic automation solutions. These tools struggle with complexity and exceptions, requiring human intervention and hindering overall efficiency.

While Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been leading in the automation field, recent reports suggest that its total cost of ownership increases over time. This is due to its inability to manage end-to-end automation, its templated approach, and lack of learning and intelligence, which prevent enterprises from fully benefiting from automation.

Building on the limitations exposed by basic automation, modern automation solutions leverage advancements like generative AI and Cognitive Process Automation (CPA) to navigate complexity. Generative AI, powered by machine learning, can handle variations in data formats and even generate different invoice layouts. CPA, on the other hand, automates tasks requiring a degree of human-like judgment. Imagine an invoice with a slightly different format for the ‘amount due’ field. A CPA solution can learn from past experiences and adjust its data extraction approach, mimicking human decision-making within predefined parameters.

Beyond siloed solutions: Cognitive process automation for a unified view

Limited departmental wins can mask broader integration issues. Picture this: a marketing team celebrates their new social media automation tool. It flawlessly schedules posts and analyzes basic engagement metrics. However, the customer service team remains unaware of the sentiment brewing in social media comments. This is a prime example of siloed automation, where different departments utilize independent tools, creating information gaps and hindering a holistic view of customer behavior.

Today’s automation advancements prioritize seamless information flow throughout the organization. Cloud-based CPA platforms act as central hubs, enabling smooth communication between various automation tools and business applications. This empowers the marketing and customer service teams to access and analyze the same social media data, fostering a unified customer experience.

Flexibility is key for growing businesses

A human resources department struggles with a basic applicant tracking system (ATS) during peak hiring season. The system, efficient for a small team, buckles under the weight of a sudden influx of applications. This scenario highlights the limitations of non-scalable automation solutions.

Fortunately, the future of automation is built on scalability. The most intelligent automation solutions prioritize this very aspect. Cloud-based options are a perfect example. They typically feature flexible pricing models that adapt to your usage. This ensures your automation infrastructure seamlessly adjusts to your evolving needs, whether you’re experiencing explosive online sales growth or venturing into new markets.

Battling inefficiency, Dissatisfied employees, and low adoption

Imagine a sales team grappling with a clunky automation tool for lead nurturing. Confusing menus and a lack of readily available help files create a frustrating experience. This scenario perfectly illustrates why user-centric design is crucial in enterprise automation. Complex tools create a steep learning curve, hindering user adoption and causing a drop in morale. Disengaged salespeople become frustrated and revert to manual processes, missing out on the potential efficiency gains that automation offers.

Modern automation solutions prioritize user experience. Intuitive interfaces, clear instructions, and readily available training resources are crucial for seamless adoption. Look for solutions that offer in-depth tutorials, interactive walkthroughs, and ongoing support channels. This empowers employees to learn the system quickly, embrace automation, and become active participants in the process, ultimately boosting sales productivity.

When disappointing ROI signals a need for advanced solutions

A company implementing an automation solution with the promise of significant cost savings sees minimal improvement in their bottom line after months of use. This points towards an automation solution that fails to deliver a significant return on investment (ROI).

Basic automation solutions often fall short of their promises because they focus on isolated tasks without considering the bigger picture. Advanced automation solutions with features like intelligent process mining and CPA go beyond basic data extraction and task automation. These features unlock significant ROI potential by identifying inefficiencies in existing workflows and automating tasks that deliver the greatest impact.

Beyond just saving Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) costs, cognitive automation provides additional benefits to organizations. These include enhancing revenue cycle management, optimizing cash flow, and detecting anomalies. The value proposition of automation extends beyond current human capabilities, offering unprecedented possibilities.

The Future of Automation—A collaborative approach

Effective automation is not a one-time fix; it’s a continuous journey. By recognizing the signs of a plateauing automation strategy and seeking out next-generation solutions, enterprises can break free from the automation paradox. The future belongs to a collaborative approach where humans and intelligent automation work in tandem.

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