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March 03, 2022

INSIGHTS ARTICLE: CELONIS - Niralee Shah: Struggling to scale automation? You’re not alone

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Struggling to scale automation? You’re not alone

The impressive rise of automation is charted in various reports, like this one from McKinsey which finds 66% of respondents are piloting automation in at least one business unit. Yet of those who have started out, only 16% have fully automated a process, and even fewer (15%) have established a program across multiple parts of their organization. 

It’s a pattern I’ve seen again and again. Automating is often the easy part. Scaling automation successfully is usually where things get really difficult. 

So what’s holding us back? Certainly, technology has been a limiting factor for many — whether it’s robotic process automation, digital process automation, digital decision platforms or business process solutions, the list goes on. But, as I’ll discuss, advances in the technology available to process leaders today give cause for excitement and optimism. 

There are a number of behaviors and challenges throughout any automation program that can hinder its effectiveness and prevent it from scaling well. As an automation specialist and product marketer, I hear the same issues arise time and again in my conversations with customers. So here are a few pointers I offer when they’re struggling to scale automation across their organizations.


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The impressive rise of automation is charted in various reports, like this one from McKinsey which finds 66% of respondents are piloting automation in at least one business unit. Yet of those who have started out, only 16% have fully automated a process, and even fewer (15%) have established a program across multiple parts of their organization. 

It’s a pattern I’ve seen again and again. Automating is often the easy part. Scaling automation successfully is usually where things get really difficult. 

So what’s holding us back? Certainly technology has been a limiting factor for many — whether it’s robotic process automation, digital process automation, digital decision platforms or business process solutions, the list goes on. But, as I’ll discuss, advances in the technology available to process leaders today give cause for excitement and optimism. 

There are a number of behaviors and challenges throughout any automation program that can hinder its effectiveness and prevent it from scaling well. As an automation specialist and product marketer, I hear the same issues arise time and again in my conversations with customers. So here are a few pointers I offer when they’re struggling to scale automation across their organizations.

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Automate to execute 

Want to be in a leading subset of process leaders? Simply automate with the goal of optimizing outcomes. 

That’s right. Believe it or not, only a minority (35%) of the process leaders surveyed in our report actually take an outcomes-first approach. Most (49.5%) create processes that either align to pre-defined IT source system flows or are designed to cut costs. 

I believe this approach — which we might call process pragmatism — doesn’t reflect the ambition of process leaders so much as their expectation. Their past experience has shaped their view of what’s possible. Now, with technological advances, they’re seeing new opportunities to increase the intelligence levels in their automation initiatives, from process discovery through to execution and beyond to ongoing optimization.   

Infuse automation with real-time data and analytics 

Enterprises are hugely complex and dynamic systems. So while it’s hard enough to gain an accurate map of your processes to guide automation, it’s even harder to stay on the right track as things change over time. 

You’ve used process mining to identify process inefficiencies. You’ve defined the business rules and logic that will trigger automations intelligently. Those automations will take direct action in your systems, or notify your teams, or trigger RPA. Next, you need to continuously monitor the effects of these actions, and use the resulting insight to adjust your automations as needed. And all of it has to be done in as close to real-time as possible. 

This real-time intelligence is, for me, one of the missing pieces in the automation puzzle. And it’s possible to put it in place today.

As we see more reports about the rise of enterprise automation, I’ll be paying close attention not only to how many companies are implementing automation programs but also to how many are scaling them with success. That’s where the huge growth in automation will come — and, with it, vast improvements in enterprises’ ability to execute.

 

Research Report 2021/22 - The Global State of Operational Excellence: Critical Challenges & Future Trends 

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About the Author

NirleeNiralee Shah,
Product Marketing Director,
Celonis.

Niralee Shah is Global Product Marketing Director at Celonis, where she defines, owns, and drives the go-to-market positioning and product placement for the platform. Prior to Celonis, Niralee spent much of her career in brand management and product marketing at IBM and Pfizer. Niralee holds a B.A. from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.B.A from New York University Stern School of Business.

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