Buried beneath all the hype and the breathlessly optimistic predictions from industry analysts about intelligent process automation (IPA) are the real world results companies today are already experiencing by applying a more flexible, intelligent automated approach to processes like vendor invoice and customer sales order handling.
These less-than-glamorous use cases are the real grist in the AI mill, with Gartner citing automating of routine manual tasks (66%) and improving customer experiences (63%) as the main reasons surveyed business leaders said they were investing in AI. And by “were investing,” we mean that the process is well underway in companies of all sizes, signaling a sea change in the way business is conducted and processes are executed in this new decade.
Before you gloss over those Gartner statistics, consider them together and how they may be correlated. Automating routine tasks is most commonly regarded as a path to cost savings through efficiency gains. But when you look at it through the lens of improving customer experience, efficiency and automation has a huge role to play there, too. So, the two goals go hand in hand.
Consider IDC’s prediction in the next two years, three quarters of enterprises will leverage intelligent automation for process development, to achieve new perspectives and insights that will help improve processes, anticipate customer needs and expectations and fuel innovation. That’s a result of the kind of process transparency that can be achieved through intelligent automation, where reliable data is validated, aggregated and input to ERP and other business systems by intelligent bots that can extract data from business documents (like invoices, orders and quotes), validate them against business records, route data for review/approval and create new transaction records instantly.
Unlike traditional rules-driven workflow automation, or even recent robotic process automation use cases, intelligent process automation empowers process owners in accounts payable and accounts receivable/sales operations to have a real impact on their relationships with vendors and customers, and to dramatically improve their experiences.
That’s possible because, unlike traditional approaches, intelligent process automation can go beyond automating the general rules and leaving exceptions/errors to the process owners, at least until IT/development is brought in the clean up the corner cases. Intelligent process automation is built and deployed to handle the majority of use cases, with support from process owners for exceptions, BUT the systems can learn and adapt to process owner input, without reliance on any coding or workflow re-configuration to handle those exceptions the next time. Instead, they learn and adapt to new exceptions by recording and analyzing the mouse clicks and keystrokes of their human counterparts.
With less reliance on IT and the technology owners, process owners of all stripes play a central role in the intelligent, automated future of work. The diligent, hard working and detail-oriented members of your AP or AR teams often possess the kinds of skills needed in this new paradigm—minus the keystrokes, mouse clicks and document-shuffling.
By off-loading routine, manual work in a way that is cost-effective and highly efficient, companies can tap into the knowledge and skills of these teams, allowing them to apply their time and talent to the kinds of pro-active work that creates better relationships with vendors and builds customer loyalty.
AP team members can do a better job managing cash and capitalizing on vendor early pay discounts. Accounts receivable and sales opps can minimize days sales outstanding, accelerating order fulfillment. With the timely data in hand, they can analyze customer buying behavior and sales trends to anticipate and predict demand.
In every case where IPA is applied, these team members can go from being reactive to pro-active, leaning into their roles to focus more on business results and less on transactional efficiency.
With real world IPA applications delivering tangible results to the bottom line, while elevating the role of process owners and creating opportunities for top line growth, intelligent process automation is set to go beyond being a blip on a 2020 trend list. Looking back on this decade, we may all discover that we witnessed the evolution of a whole new world of work.
Ready to learn more? Contact Artsyl and explore how our ActionSuite of intelligent process automation applications for accounts payable, accounts receivable, claims management can empower your employees to achieve more.