Trends and Insights from Artsyl and the AIIM Community
When it comes to making a business case for business process improvements, AIIM, a nonprofit organization dedicated to information-driven innovation, can be your best ally. Known for delivering surveys and studies on best practices for information management, AIIM continued its tradition at the end of the year with an ebook entitled What We Learned from the AIIM Community in 2016.
From our perspective at Artsyl Technologies, 2016 was a banner year for business process automation. We saw our community of partners and customers grow tremendously, but more significantly, we saw a shift in how our partners and clients viewed process automation, and the role of solutions like intelligent capture.
Process Automation Evolves from Efficiency to Agility
Historically, the fast return on investment that came from automating manual data entry, document sorting and approval routing was the leading argument for improving processes like medical claim, vendor invoice or sales order processing. Today, however, we are seeing more and more partners and clients who regard process automation as a strategic initiative. They see the benefits as going beyond bottom line cost savings to top line growth through better vendor relationships, improved customer satisfaction and greater control and agility within the organization.
As AIIM’s recent ebook points out, 55% of respondents to their end of year survey said that business process management was significant (38%) or imperative (17%). Beyond reducing process cycle times and lowering costs, driving greater process control and visibility emerged as a big driver for innovation.
According to AIIM, analytics and reporting was considered a mandatory component for 64% of business process automation projects, suggested that firms are evolving from automating data extraction and simplifying processes to leveraging the data that come from those efforts to better manage their operations.
In fact, when asked about drivers for ‘paperless’ initiatives within their organizations, the top responses (42%) were regular process reviews, and cost savings equally (50%), followed by improved responsiveness (42%).
Executive Engagement and Strategic Impact on the Rise
Because business process automation is on the rise in terms of its priority and impact on the operations and financial performance of organizations, gaining buy-in from company executives and make a business case that aligns with corporate goals is key to the success of BPA projects.
According to AIIM, survey respondents said that the most common key lessons learned from BPA projects were having executive level buy-in (42%) and stakeholder involvement (33%).
When it came to paperless process initiatives, executive leadership was, again, a bigger factor than cost savings. “Mandates from above” were the motivating trigger for paper-free initiative according to 48% of respondents, compared to 35% are citing cost savings as the initial trigger for their first paper-free process.
The Outlook for 2017 is Bright
With so much buzz around technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI) and smart process platforms, new innovations are on the horizon that will make process automation even easier to deploy, with greater flexibility and deeper strategic impact. While broad adoption of these new technologies may be a few years away, the potential has captured the imagination of process owners and executives alike.
At the end of the day, what we witnessed in 2016 was a rejection of the status quo in many aspects of our lives. Rejecting the way things have always been done when it comes to manually-driven business operations and embracing real time visibility and control through automation definitely looks like the shape of things to come.