Guest Blog by Natt Fry, CEO Aurore LLC
The benefits of intelligent automation are vast. However, the most successful intelligent automation initiatives are guided and driven by strategy. An intelligent automation strategy establishes the retailer’s vision for digital transformation, identifies who will lead the initiative, establishes executive alignment and governance regarding the scope, and sets goals and measurable objectives for the initiative. It creates the necessary executive support for the organizational changes resulting from intelligent automation.
What is Intelligent Automation?
Intelligent Automation is a set of technologies that can help retailers:
- Eliminate non-value adding tasks from existing business & technology processes
- Automate mundane, repetitive tasks with software robots or “bots”
- Integrate critical document intelligence seamlessly into business workstreams
- Validate process compliance where rules or regulations are required
There are four primary Intelligent Automation functional capabilities:
- Process and Task Discovery which provides a holistic view of an organization’s people, processes, and technologies. This includes understanding what applications they are using, how much time they spend in applications, and what happens in between applications.
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) which is the building, deploying and managing of software robots that emulate and replace mundane, repetitive human activities.
- Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) which is enveloping key documents such as Word, Excel, PDF, CSV, Google Docs and other files into processes and tasks.
- Business Process Automation (BPA) which is orchestration, workflow, and automation of complex business processes across disparate systems and personnel.
Automation Roadmap & Resource Plan
As the retailer increasingly understands the power of intelligent automation and the benefits to be gained, it’s not uncommon that they may become overwhelmed by the number and size of intelligent automation opportunities.
The intelligent automation roadmap identifies the opportunities and provides an initial estimate of the benefits possible, using the intelligent automation process analysis framework. This framework enables an initial prioritization of the automation initiatives.
It also understands and analyzes existing process transformation initiatives, identifying which should utilize partial elements of intelligent automation, which should be fully replaced by intelligent automation, and which should continue as designed with humans. It also resolves which transformation resources should become part of the intelligent automation team.
And last, a critical part of the roadmap is identifying initiatives that generate positive cash flow through being easy, quick, and low cost to implement while generating significant benefits and/or savings.
Defining the intelligent automation roadmap is an ongoing process as there will be changes in resource availability and financial support. One should think of the roadmap as a pipeline of never-ending business improvement opportunities.
You Will Want to Develop a Business Case
Achieving the great benefits that intelligent automation offers retailers requires a substantial upfront commitment to internal resources (some full-time, some part-time) and finances (to fund intelligent automation tools and expert retail/intelligent automation experts).
The intelligent automation business case estimates the expected benefits which provides the basis for committing resources and funding. It is a critical tool for communicating executive commitment and expectations for the intelligent automation program.
The business case also informs the intelligent automation plan, balancing speed of implementation with matching intelligent automation costs and benefits. The objective is for the intelligent automation roadmap to be cash flow positive as quickly as possible.
Organization & Change Management Plans
The intelligent automation organization plan defines the approach for resolving jobs/roles that will be transformed, and sometimes even jobs/roles that will be eliminated. It identifies organizational activities that will need to occur to enable the success of the program, including training, reskilling, reclassifying, and downsizing.
The intelligent automation organizational plan identifies needed internal resources, informing the intelligent automation plan, balancing speed of implementation with resource availability.
While intelligent Automation can deliver immense benefits to retailers, implementing intelligent automation can also be complex. Companies sometimes get “stuck” after a few, successful intelligent automation deployments. Change fatigue from automation initiatives can produce significant organizational resistance if it is not managed properly.
The intelligent automation change management plan analyzes the retailer’s existing change management capabilities and experience. It creates a change management plan aligned with the roadmap and includes recommendations for enterprise change management. For example, it identifies what external resources, if any, are required, and for how long.
Becoming Self Sufficient
Creating a migration plan (from heavy reliance on external experts to developing internal experts) is another important element of the intelligent automation strategy.
The migration plan influences the organizational and financial plans, and includes important activities that are included in the overall intelligent automation roadmap.
The intelligent automation strategy establishes the foundation for success. It raises important issues and documents the agreed upon plan to deal with those issues. It is tailored to the retailer’s vision, goals, objectives, resources, and financials. It produces the following deliverables:
- Automation Roadmap
- Business Case & Resource Plan
- Organization & Change Management Plan
- Becoming Self Sufficient
The Intelligent Automation strategy can be performed in two phases: Phase 1 includes the Strategy, Roadmap, Business Case and Resource Plan deliverables. Phase 2 includes the Organization, Change Management and Migration Plan deliverables.
About the Author
Natt Fry has spent more than 40 years working with leading retailers; as an executive for Target Corporation, as a Consulting Partner for IBM Consulting, and as a Managing Director for Accenture, and as the founder of two successful digital transformation consulting firms, Aurore (North America) and Aurous SpA (South America). Throughout this journey he has identified, designed, and applied advanced AI, data science, and innovative technology solutions that materially improve business results for retailers.
Aurore provides strategic consulting and professional services for retailers who are seeking success on their digital transformation journey. Our expert team consists of seasoned thought leaders who have a deep understanding of business process optimization, change adoption and clear knowledge of the latest industry best practices. As part of its differentiation, Aurore uses industry-specific Intelligent Automation tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), and Process/Task Mining to take retail business transformation to the next level. To learn more about Aurore, click here.
ABOUT HULOOP AUTOMATION, INC.
Based in the Sacramento, California area, HuLoop Automation offers an AI-powered, no-code intelligent automation platform. This platform brings next generation hyperautomation innovation across five primary solution areas; 1.) business process automation (BPA), 2.) robotic process automation (RPA), 3.) intelligent document processing (IDP), 4.) software test automation (TA) and 5.) intelligent data automation (IDA). HuLoop is used across the enterprise by both businesspeople and technology experts. The platform delivers significant revenue growth, cost savings, and productivity gains across it’s prestigious customer base. Learn more at www.huloop.ai and follow HuLoop on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.