In the current times, most organisations are witnessing a shift in customer and market landscapes. This new environment is putting pressure on existing systems and as a result, the need for resilient, flexible and secure systems and applications, to ensure operational resilience has become vital. While the need for agility and scalability continues to push companies toward cloud adoption; on the ground there is a lag in the success stories of cloud adoption by companies. Exploiting cloud services and tooling, requires change across all of IT and more importantly business functions. This involves a complete rebirth instead of just refabrication of the cloud native infrastructure.
Ganesh Thyagarajan, Vice President & Global Head of Cloud Channels, at Automation Anywhere, shares pertinent insights to help decipher how by using a cloud-native, web-based combination of Artificial intelligence (AI) and Robotic process automation (RPA), organizations can automate processes end-to-end with just a click of a button.
Q. Is Digitisation the same as Automation? Can these two words be used interchangeably?
A. There is a difference between the 2 terminologies. Let me just take a step back towards what enterprises should really look at. Enterprises should really aim to become a digital enterprise, and you will be surprised if you look at a lot of enterprises globally, they are still struggling to become digital enterprises in this day and age. Now, there’s an absolute difference between digitization and automation. If I were take the context again to an enterprise becoming a digital enterprise, there are a few steps that they need to take. Let’s say if I'm holding a baseball bat in my hand, it just does not really make me a baseball player, or let’s say if I am running 2-3 digital workers in an enterprise today, it doesn’t make me a digital enterprise, or if I have a mobile app for my customers it just doesn't make me a digital enterprise, if my engine room is still running manually.
For a digital enterprise, your operations first have to be digital. And for operations to be digital, your processes have to be digital and that's part of digitization. You have to digitize your processes! And for that, the foundation really is an intelligent digital workforce which is what a lot of enterprises are moving towards.
The intelligent digital workforce is the combination of 3 different technologies mainly Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence using Machine Learning plus Analytics. This allows to really automate every process in your organization once it is digitized. Whether it is the front office, the back office or the employee productivity applications which are used by the employees.
What I mean to say is it makes it economically viable to automate any process in any part of the world which means it is cheaper to automate in any part of the world than do it manually.
Q. If an organisation were to embrace technologies such as cloud and automation, how does an enterprise start with a click? Is it possible?
A. I think I would rephrase this to say faster time to value if I am putting this in the context of an enterprise. It’s about starting quickly, and the way to do this is completely cloud based. You have got to make it as simple as possible for everyone to start thinking automation and that's why at Automation Anywhere, we offer our enterprise customers a completely web- based product and platform. It's extremely simple, and you can access it from anywhere. It doesn’t require any installation, is completely cloud based and provides you easy consumer like experiences. So, you start with a click and it is very simple. All you do is enter your credentials, and off you go. You are now starting to automate real processes in your enterprise. Or if you are a student for example, we have a community edition where you can go in, and pretty much automate anything with a click of a button. You can probably build a digital worker within 2 minutes. This is where the one click methodology helps business users. I mean you’ve got to make it as simple and easy enough for not only business users to start using a product on the cloud. It is also about providing faster time to value, and making sure that developers can use it as well. Our cloud native platform at Automation Anywhere does just that.
So, it helps developers, business users and IT alike. So we take pride in our own product and platform as it pretty much can be used by anyone. A business user, a developer, an IT personnel or anybody in the organization, and that's where the faster click and faster time to value actually comes into play. The other good part of this is that, you can deploy this platform almost anywhere --- on the cloud, on prem, on a virtual machine, or on a desktop etc. And the whole idea is that all you require is just a simple click and you're well on your way towards automating your first business process.
Q. Organisations have worked in silos starting from processes and functions, and hence have internal barriers. How do you embark on this journey of Automation and cover front office, back office and employee productivity all at once?
A. At Automation Anywhere we truly believe in three main aspects. One, you need to have a platform on the cloud which can pretty much automate anything, whether it’s processes in the front office, the back office, or pretty much applications that are actually used by employees. Second, having a platform and the product on the cloud, which can be used by anyone: Business users, IT and developers. Thirdly, you can pretty much use the platform to automate any process anywhere in the world.
We started out where enterprises really started looking at back office processes first. Let’s say about a decade ago. It then shifted to the front office to make employees productive, and to make sure that the time they utilize in the front office is much more efficient. At Automation Anywhere we truly believe in 3 main aspects. One, you need to have a platform on the cloud which can pretty much automate anything, whether it’s the front office, the back office, or applications that are actually used by employees. Secondly a platform and the product on the cloud, which can be used by anyone, business, IT and developers. Thirdly you can pretty much use the platform to automate any process anywhere in the world.
If you look at the front office, it’s extremely critical, especially in the pandemic, where a lot of the work loads are now traditionally moving back to the front office to help customers out. So you have a lot of people in a contact centre using front office applications. You have got to arm them with the digital worker and they're starting to significantly see trends moving towards the front office. We are again starting to see a lot of enterprises strengthen their back office processes, and applications that are used in the back office as well, along with employee productivity applications as well.
A lot of employees in enterprises today use a G-Suite for example, or an Office 365 or a Salesforce CRM. So the Automation Anywhere platform now gives them the ability to use these plug’ins, where you can actually invoke a digital worker from a G-Suite product or an office 365 product. We're actually starting to see a convergence amongst these 3 mediums, whether it's the front office, the back office or the employee productivity apps that are actually being used. And that's exactly what you need. RPA, plus AI plus machine learning and analytics to make sure that it can automate every single process in the front office, back office and the employees to start using their applications much more productively. We are starting to see this pick up a lot of momentum in the last 6-8 months especially given the fact that the pandemic is taking over our lives.
Q. The CEO of every organisation grapples with a single question, how do they drive the value from any technological adoption. And one of the biggest metrics is how it can enable them to scale? How can automation help in this endeavour?
A. A lot of CEOs today grapple with something called ROI. At the end of the day they want to make sure when they invest in a product, they invest in the right technology. They make sure that whatever they invest in can scale quickly and help them towards digital transformation. It’s the ROI that they are actually looking for and given this day and age of pandemic, it’s all about low total cost of ownership, which CEOs are very much in favour of.
Automation using the cloud provides immense scalability. So our advice to CEOs is to stop thinking of investing in a whole lot of infrastructure, or going through on-prem solutions which require you to invest in huge amount of infrastructure or IT personnel for example. Start looking at products which are actually based on the cloud especially if you're thinking of bringing automation into your DNA.
Another advice is do not go deep into just one single function. You might want to go wide into your entire organization and that's where democratization of RPA comes in. You have got to think about bringing the automation DNA into every single employee in the organization and on every single process across every single function that a CEO runs. That gives you better ROI with a product that is extremely scalable on the cloud. So as a CEO you should not worry about adding IT personnel, you should not have to worry about adding infrastructure which is very important to continue your business. Business continuity is extremely important in making sure that your business is as resilient as possible. This brings you scale especially in this pandemic. And finally it’s all about the total cost of ownership which should be as low as possible, and that brings you scale if you are really looking at platforms and products that are actually served from the cloud. To sum it up, for every dollar a CEO spends the ROI is achieved in platforms like ours which sits on the cloud; is about $2.5 and that's where scale comes in. The more you think cloud, the more scale it brings.
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