The definition of a great idea is an idea whose time has come. And automation’s time has come. The need to cut cost, support beleaguered employees and drive greater productivity post COVID-19 makes it a no-brainer. History proves it, automation has flourished after every economic depression and big recession.

But there’s an elephant in the room.

It’s hard to make a business case for automation. And when budgets are so tight this could be its Achilles’ heel. Here’s a dose of economic reality. The promised savings don’t always materialise. In a recent survey, almost 30% of businesses said RPA hadn’t met its cost saving targets*. And there are all manner of hidden IT and operational challenges, like technical debt, ‘IT spaghetti’, operational disruption and disgruntled workforces.

The elephant in the room is often a white one.

But there is a solution: a new type of automation – digital process on-demand. It’s a set of “Lego building blocks” that can be used and reused for any automation your organisation needs. It’s built and managed in a virtual cloud platform for simplicity and scalability, and loosely coupled blocks can be disassembled and reassembled so no more monolithic legacy regret. It’s as-a-service so you only pay for what you consume and your teams aren’t tied up in management and maintenance.

At its heart are robots with business brains. ’Manager bots’ know the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) so they constantly monitor the ‘worker bots’ for each automated process to check there are sufficient numbers of them to meet the demand and hit the target. If there are not, they call more ‘worker bots’ into action to ensure each SLA is met. They understand that an under-utilised resource is a waste - they automatically sleep any surplus “worker bots” so the business doesn’t have to pay for them. They also know that everyone needs a reset sometimes – ‘worker bots’ that run slow or generate unexpected errors are restarted and user credentials managed for appropriate system access.

The breadth of automations is virtually limitless. The automations can scale infinitely to meet capacity. It means high volumes of repetitious tasks can be taken care of, freeing workforces to focus on higher value work. And IT budgets aren’t tied up as on-demand meets in-cloud, as-a-service, plug and play, and pay-as-you-use.

It all adds up to a stronger automation business case, just when businesses need it.

But the bottom line is the bottom line will not be enough. Organisations will have to ask more from automation as they navigate COVID-19; productivity and efficiency will only be hygiene factors. Automation must be central to any COVID-19 resilience strategy. The ability to adapt at pace, at scale and at low marginal cost is a strategic necessity.

So, let me leave you with three questions to ask your management team the next time automation comes up:

1. Will it increase operational resilience?

Can automation enable processes to be rapidly scaled? Can it provide the data for systems to rapidly adapt to operational change? And can it minimise disruption to customer service and organisational function?

2. Will it improve workforce resilience?

Can it help strengthen the physical and mental well-being of workforces; increase their efficiency and productivity in times of change and uncertainty and help them to evolve new skills for the future?

3. Will it enhance technology resilience?

Can it contribute to the flexibility and agility of the technology environment and not hinder it? Can it integrate the new workforce applications and new customer channels? And will it help to accelerate digital adoption.

To learn more about this topic, listen to our recent webinar that focuses on “Busting the Big Automation Myths.”


*AI Multiple

Mark Jennings


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