Putting the foundations in place for hyper-automation (2023 Prediction #6)
As organizations automate more broadly, and increasingly critical aspects of their operations, many are hitting a glass ceiling as they lack the fundamental building blocks to ensure that they do this in an effective and efficient way.
For many, the ultimate goal is the automation of end-to-end processes, designed around the needs of the end customer or user, and taking away the burden of repetitive manual tasks from an overstretched workforce. This is often called “hyper-automation”.
However, the majority of automation projects have focused on the digitization of individual processes or parts of a process, and a lack of governance has meant that automation solutions have tended to be deployed tactically rather than strategically. Quick wins within departments or silos fizzle out, rather than building into broader, more impactful plays.
With business leaders looking to take a fresh look at their approach to automation, process orchestration is emerging as an increasingly hot topic. While most automation solutions have typically worked at a task level – enabling a single activity such as scanning documents or approving purchase orders to run without manual intervention – orchestration focuses on automating multiple tasks across an entire process to work together.
The main problem that orchestration seeks to tackle is to break the cycle into which many automation strategies have fallen of simply using a bot to perform a manual task previously handled by a human worker. Yes, there are some short-term cost savings to be gained, but the task automation plays out in isolation with no coordination with other parts of the process. The upside is limited, and this focus at a task level means that in many cases, organizations have automated multiple tasks within a specific process in different ways, designed to meet the needs of individual workers. Orchestration provides a wraparound layer that works alongside the bots that manage these tasks to create a single workflow.
Putting a spotlight on process orchestration also provides a means for an organization to identify whether their business processes are fit for purpose or constrained by old operating behaviors – a "this is how we have always done it" mentality. Challenging this through orchestration will drive even greater efficiency.
Process orchestration enables organizations to overcome the silo or departmental barriers that many automation initiatives typically encounter. When strategy leaders undertake process mining exercises, they quickly come to understand that it spans many different moving parts of the organization, and is not something that can be addressed on an end-to-end basis with a database, an application, and a bot. What orchestration does is to get these different underlying technologies working in harmony to automate activities that span multiple areas of the business.
Process automation will be critical to giving many businesses the operational efficiency and resilience they will need against an increasingly volatile economic backdrop. In 2023, process orchestration will emerge as an important building block for future success.
This blog is part of a series of PAC's 2023 Top 10 predictions. Click here to see our 10 predictions