Business Process Automation: Why Collaboration is Such a Critical Part of Any Business Transformation
Monday January 24, 2022
According to Wikipedia, Business process automation (BPA) – also known as business automation or digital transformation – is the technology-enabled automation of complex business processes. It can streamline a business for simplicity, achieve digital transformation, increase service quality, improve service delivery, or contain costs.
For the UC and collaboration industry, business process automation is especially relevant, as it enables organizations to automate workflows and processes to improve efficiency and productivity, and ensure a positive end user experience.
Disruption and Innovation – the Emergence of Innovative Disruption
Organizations carry out digital transformations for many positive reasons. However, digitization and transformational technology often play a major part in causing disruption. We call this innovative disruption.
Organizations want to harness technology to create efficiencies and a better experience – within and outside the company. However, the process of “getting there” often includes revolutionary “big change” that organizations must pass through, for success.
When you look at innovation, it’s important to understand it in a bigger context. Take wave theory, for example. Since the 1700s, wave theory has been tracking innovation over time. It shows the waves of innovation the world has experienced. The interesting thing is how these waves are accelerating. The first waves (waterpower, textiles, iron) being a 60-year wave, and then these waves starting to speed up (electronics, aerospace at 40-year waves, AI automation and digitization at 20-year waves).
These innovations create a lot of disruption for organizations but also a lot of opportunity. The key point here is that the acceleration of the wave theory is happening due to accelerated innovation. Let’s look at this a little bit deeper and understand how it works. Often, when an organization is on a wave of growth, they are executing on their strategy and introduce incremental changes using technology to make small improvements over time (improving the way they execute, acquire new customers, look after existing customers, etc). This keeps improving the business and the growth trajectory continues. Then you get to a point in the maturation cycle where new technology starts to change the way things are looked at. Instead of technology we use for incremental change, we now see technology as a massive disruptor – where organizations consider a completely different business model, or a completely different approach to how using the technology to serve the customers or win customers, or how to create experiences that don’t exist today. The reason this is always such a challenge is that at this maturation peak, the company needs to switch waves, to continue growing.
To get companies to switch waves is very difficult. You are basically asking businesses to take a hiatus on revenue growth while the transition / pivot to the new wave takes place. Financial services are a good example of this. This is a very difficult process to embark on, which is why organizations won’t do it. Some organizations will leave it too late, and some won’t be able to pivot and change fast enough. This incremental change of the new wave can also include radical jumps in technology breakthroughs. When you get to this point, we see a concept called creative destruction where the old way of doing things is no longer valid, so customers rapidly migrate away to the new wave; this is usually driven by cost advantages, speed advantages experience advantages etc. So, you need to get onto the new wave and start to develop new rules in your business models that are applicable for your continued growth.
The ability to survive these transitions is very important for an organization.
An Introduction to Innovation
Let’s look at the impact of innovation over time. Until the 1880s, there was single platform changes happening at any one time. The first time we see a convergence of multiple platforms impacting change within our society is in the 1900s when electricity, telephony, automobile converged. This unleashed massive change and massive impact and destruction … as well as innovation in the form of new job creation. This will continue. Two major technological platform changes we have seen in recent times are computers and internet. Hugely impactful, bringing unprecedented change. This is overshadowed again by our current situation –where five platforms are converging and unleashing massive change and disruption, creative destruction, and massive growth: blockchain technology, genome sequencing, robotics, AI, and energy storage.
Bringing this back to the relevance of this discussion. Collaboration fits into robotics, AI, computers, and AI. Robotics is all about process automation, and having computers do more of this work for us. This doesn’t just mean “loss of jobs”; history has showed us that technology advances often create many new job opportunities while also eradicating some older professions. So, you could argue that this latest wave will see the same again.
The key here is the parabolic curve of innovation. Change will be colossal over the next 5-10 years.
Innovation is Driving Disruption
If you if you look at innovation with regards to an ecosystem of people and processes because this is where collaboration shines. An innovation ecosystem requires that you that you get on top of the process of using technology to facilitate the business – couple automation with your staff’s skills and talent to drive growth and innovation strategies. This is where collaboration starts to become very important. Innovation doesn’t happen in isolation. It happens in teams. For example, in the past, Nobel peace prize winners were individuals. Over the last 10 years or so, they have mainly been teams. This talks to the premise of innovation. So, to be able to innovate we need teams to be highly functional and we need the right people, the right systems, and the right processes to underpin that innovation. This could be the key to your organization’s survival.
- Where are you on your digital transformation journey?
- Where does collaboration play?
- Is collaboration seen by your organization as a critical support system for innovation and digital business transformation?
- Or is it seen as a cost center?
Process Automation from a Collaboration Perspective
Automation should be key here. Many organizations are doing a lot of business process automation but they’re not doing a lot of IT process automation. Intriguing. This means businesses are happy to transform the business and review all of the business processes but not the IT processes. VOSS would argue that you need to transform and digitize IT first before even trying to attempt to do a business transformation. The reason for this is that if you manipulate and change the underpinnings of your business transformation – which is your IT technology – while also trying to carry out business transformation, you’ve got two moving parts which creates risk and will often lead to a lot of these transformations failing.
Another thing to beware of is that you don’t carry out false transformations or what we call “digital whitewashing” or “digital sugar coating”, where people are just putting a shiny new web interface on the front of an old IT system, without any real fundamental transformational change.
Business Process Automation for Collaboration
In this scenario you have many different systems sitting underneath your UC systems, e.g. Cisco, Microsoft, Zoom, Skype, legacy systems, and an employee logs a ticket going to ServiceNow. The sysadmin would pick the ticket up and execute the change across all of these different systems, following multiple steps. Mundane, time-consuming, error prone.
With VOSS, the sysadmin would fire up one API and kick off 20 automated provisioning processes which touch all individual systems through a single action. This makes it very easy for ServiceNow to deal with the action and saves time and money. It also makes it easier for the end user. By providing a single pane of glass self-service button, the employee experience is far easier and more pleasant.
To do this you need incredibly good data handling and data structures as well as APIs.
What are the Business Benefits of Business Process Collaboration?
- Lower cost
- Consistent and repeatable
- Great customer experience
- Easy to use 24/7
- Increased productivity
This free technical staff to work on valuable tasks such as speak with customers, build new automations, drive that automation that digitization process and then drive up the customer experience, make use of bots and so on.
Collaboration Automation Unlocks Business Value
- Collaboration enables teams to drive innovation – it’s your key defence against digital disruption
- Make collaboration an automated part of your business processes – staff can gain from this and should, if it’s done right
- Extend your single pane of glass view across your entire communications estate
- Reduce time and costs to complete technical and business processes
- Drive business agility, enable innovation, unlock productivity, and fuel growth
The Challenges of Integrating and Automating Collaboration
- The complex nature of the digital workplace – remote working, diverse UC requirements
- The range of multi-vendor, best of breed solutions – all estates are multi-vendor
- One size doesn’t fit all – functional areas have difference details requirements and flows
- Significant investment to create and maintain integrations if API and data architecture are not all synced and not done right
Technical Considerations for Success
- Use cloud or hybrid for business functionality
- Collaboration tools and integration and key to simplify processes and reduce costs
- Mobility is a key driver
- Big data goes hand in hand with the cloud
- Map business need to cloud
- Develop a UC “work from anywhere” strategy
- Address 4 critical components
- Work anywhere workspaces
- Device management
- Easy digital processes
- Integration with the backend
- Embrace collaboration enabling technologies
- Enable customer / user experiences
- Drive tech business strategy and build a culture or innovation, participation and collaboration
- Collaborate with strategic partners to deliver DTX
- Big Data
- Prepare for big data
- Major opportunity for real time data analytics
- Include business orientated expertise from the start
- Include customer analysts of next waves
- Prepare to embrace predictive analytics, ML and AI
Business Process Automation – What you Need
You need to cover the whole lifecycle. You need to be able to take the journey – and it’s a repetitive journey – a constant process. Then there’s the operational and automation side. But you also need to have the performance management analytics side of it as well otherwise you really are only seeing part of the story.
VOSS Collaboration Automation
VOSS’ integration interfaces, flexible workflows and data model provide the widest possible BPA scope:
- Extensive, out of the box capabilities that automate collaboration and UC tasks
- Integrate your collaboration automation into the wide BPA strategy, quickly and easily
Digital Service Delivery
First, simplify and automate as much of the mundane stuff – MACDs etc – then create administration portals for non-tech staff to carry out complex tasks. VOSS hides the complexity with automated workflows. The platform includes APIs which allow Northbound APIs, report and analytics engines, HR integrations.
This is all integrated into IT. Not standalone. Not single vendor. This opens up the way that service management or service operating is done. The IT environment which is often setup in silos can now be fully integrated into other business processes. With automation, assurance, and analytics, you can correlate data for a much bigger picture and deeper understanding of your business processes.
In this way, we also simplify the user experience.
VOSS offers an orchestration and automation suite which is doing the business process automation and manages all the UC platforms underneath (whether it’s Microsoft, Cisco, Zoom, Avaya, etc). Add to this the Assurance suite which pulls all the monitoring data and performance information analytics. From here we can generate tickets automatically, create automated responses to fix issues or stop outages from occurring.
Couple these together are you can make changes in the environment – self healing. You must have both pieces for self-healing to be possible. Add to this machine learning and AI and you get a fuller picture still.
VOSS understands how the organization is structured and we integrate deeply, so when we start to correlate the data between the organization and what we know of the UC environment, we also make it much easier to read and understand. This makes it easy to solve problems and get the outcomes the business needs to be able to protect itself from disruption.
Here are the steps to take, to take ensure your collaboration strategy is central to your digital business transformation:
1. Map out your business transformation goals
– Don’t entertain fake transformations or digital white washing
– Don’t under-estimate the speed or impact that disruption will create
2. Incorporate UC and collaboration into your business process automation strategy – it’s a critical enabler to your transformation success
– Teams and innovation are key to staying on the right side of change and disruption, so collaboration systems are critical, not nice to have
3. Collaboration automation and assurance tools drive innovations and support the organization’s execution of its transformation strategy plus help organize a defence against disruption