EB: What is digital process automation (DPA)?
JW: DPA is fast emerging as an important evolution of the longer established category of Business Process Management (BPM). This change is being driven by the growing need for businesses to rapidly automate processes as part of their wider digital transformation initiatives. As a result, the days of long, expensive projects focused solely on operational cost reduction are well and truly behind us. Leading businesses are now placing strategic imperative on digitising operations to become more customer-focused, responsive organisations – both in terms of how they bring new products to market and how they meet evolving customer service expectations across the lifecycle.
DPA allows organisations to become customer obsessed, responsive and more able to take risks in product innovations as their operating model can now be both easily digitised and intelligent. In the age of the digital customer and in the context of an ever more competitive, 24 hour global economy, this is the key to surviving and thriving.
For example, if a new product can be rapidly introduced to market and easily scaled if successful, it can be hugely profitable to an organisation. Equally, if the same product proves to be unsuccessful in gaining customer adoption, it can be killed off quickly with limited cost. In this new digital age, a culture of rapid experimentation is critical and the automation of processes that no longer live in siloes but instead cut across organisations, people and systems is key to enabling this approach. This is where DPA comes into play.
EB: How has it evolved from business process management?
JW: What’s changed in recent times is the shifting of goalposts for projects that formerly fell under the umbrella of BPM. Where in the past the business case for these initiatives would have been built on simple operational cost reduction measures to increase profits, they are now built on the competitive necessity to orchestrate data, people and assets to improve the customer experience both today and as it evolves. The net result of that improved customer experience is for an organisation to be able to increase revenues through the faster acquisition and higher retention of customers.
EB: What benefits does it bring to the enterprise?
JW: The key benefit of DPA is enabling more agile operations, which are customer-focused at a lower cost. DPA empowers the enterprise to be more responsive to customers, deliver products to market faster and provide an enhanced customer experience. Essentially, it delivers this by intelligently arming ‘knowledge workers’ with the right information at the right time and in the specific context of that business moment to do their job more effectively and to respond to the changing needs of digitally-savvy consumers. In a hyper competitive environment, your employees may only have a moment to engage with your customers. Digital process automation focuses on helping customer-facing staff make informed and relevant recommendations at the critical touchpoints that define the overall customer experience.
EB: Which sector is ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing DPA?
JW: Financial Services is leading the charge. The industry is going through unprecedented change and traditional providers have had to rethink how they operate, specifically when it comes to being able to provide an exceptional customer experience across an array of constantly changing financial products. And do so in a tightly regulated environment. Customer service fails have been well-publicised and the industry has not only taken notice but taken action.
Case in point, we’re working with Old Mutual who embarked on a business transformation initiative with one aim: to put the customer first. The starting point was to reduce the customer waiting time across the branches and boost NPS by enabling sales advisors to make personalised recommendations across all relevant products or services. They achieved this by wrapping siloed legacy systems with a digital process automation layer, delivering a 360° view of the customer across any device and using that insight to intelligently recommend financial service products to the customer based on their specific context. This is just one example of how DPA is empowering financial services to provide a more efficient and personalised customer experience across every touchpoint.
EB: Who is responsible for implementing DPA?
JW: The key is to ensure that both business and IT can come together collaboratively to deliver digital process automation programs. DPA platforms have been specifically built with business-to-IT collaboration at the heart of their solution. The business or transformation leader often has the vision, remit and budget to transform the organisation into a digital business whereas the CIO, as the leader of the Applications Delivery and Development (AD&D) team, is tasked with actually delivering the requested transformation – whilst also coping with a backlog of non-delivered IT projects.
For digital transformation programs to succeed, businesses must look towards technology platforms that can allow both business and IT users to collaborate and quickly co-create digital process applications with no code, whilst also ensuring that IT maintain overall governance and control.