[Editor’s Note: Know This, Do This is a blog series from System Soft Technologies. What is this series for? It’s a cycle of articles that take you on a journey, exploring ways innovative & digital technology can help leaders drive transformation and growth.]
Regardless of your political leaning, the recent general election was a true test of our national capability to secure, automate digital technology, and generate accurate results. These challenges are not solely the province of our election infrastructure, but also reflected in the challenges that most organisations confront every day.
Our voting system is one of the most advanced in the world, and our country has introduced significant innovation to streamline the process.
Yet, election issues still emerged in supporting a massive volume of more than 150 million votes. Some were more serious than others, like computing equipment failure. Other concerns reported include human error in counting, the uncertain security of touchscreen computers, and scanning technology going on the blink.
Many of the digital technology challenges that arose during the recent election are iconic of those that must be addressed often by business leaders, regardless of industry. Voters are forced to use the system that is provided to them. Your customers have much more leeway and can “vote” to consume your service or find other vendors who provide a better user experience.
As a business leader, you must ensure that your digital technology is aligned to support customer and employee expectations that include security, streamlined processes and information accuracy.
You should consider these three technological components for your organization:
- Process Automation
- Master Data Management and Data Normalization
Accounts enabled with multi-factor authentication are 99.9% less likely to be compromised, according to Microsoft. It also helps when you don’t use text messaging as an authentication method. Instead, an application, such as Microsoft Authenticator, is more effective and secure. And there are others to choose from.
Additionally, look at the reports detailing user logins. Are they logging in from Florida and then from Russia 30 minutes later? Does it take them 20 attempts to get a correct password? Are your users suddenly showing changes in behavior patterns like unexpectedly downloading large amounts of sensitive data? These types of activities can indicate you’ve been compromised.
Protecting your user identities is a vote for stability and security across crucial business systems. Your customers and employees expect that data is secure. It only takes one breach for stakeholders to quickly change their vote and move to a different vendor or employer.
It’s still rather amazing that in the year 2020 we have so much manual intervention involved in the voting process. That amount of labor intensity in most industries would be a big problem. Imagine a bank with no ATMs or a retailer with no commerce capabilities. They would be unable to survive.
To stay competitive, your organization must look to automate business processes across finance, human resources, supply chain, procurement and service delivery. By doing so, you can achieve more accurate results in faster and more responsive timeframes, meet customer expectations and achieve a competitive cost structure.
Practical and common ways for getting this done include:
- Low-Code (LC) or No-Code (NC) Software Development Platforms
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Tools
- Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- RPA Automation Platforms
Low-Code or No-Code
Financial institutions find themselves in a demanding situation right now with businesses of all sizes needing funds to survive the pandemic. Grants, loans and other forms of support each come with different policies and rules, but you must be fast to stand up front-end portals and automate back-end processes. Timelines for delivery are compressed and inflexible.
You can’t wait. You need to get it done in weeks, not months or quarters.
LC and NC development platforms both offer blocks of pre-built modules that accelerate the process of manually writing lines of code. Primary capabilities include:
- A development environment used to create application software through graphical user interfaces and automated configuration.
- Enabling business users of limited or no IT experience to create applications using a visual user interface.
- Applications are automatically secured, immediately scalable and globally accessible.
- Performance is assured through asynchronous processing by adaptive, stateless containerized microservices.
Robotic Process Automation
Process automation has moved to the forefront, helping drive down costs, enhance service levels and free workers from routine and repetitive tasks to focus on more strategic and value-oriented activities.
A recent post-pandemic workforce report from global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which surveyed 800 business executives worldwide, says that “under the pandemic, a growing number of new roles are being automated or conducted by robots.” The report further states that “85% of companies accelerated their digitization and 67% boosted automation and artificial intelligence (AI) due to the crisis.”
When top line (e.g., revenue) falls, business survival requires a proportional decrease in costs. That’s where RPA comes in, providing a much more rapid approach for automating vital business processes than traditional software methods.
With RPA, you can build secure workflows quickly and easily with limited coding experience. Tools like Microsoft’s Power Automate are equipped with ready-to-use templates for common process challenges. High-end consultancies like System Soft Technologies have developed a library of bots that can further shorten timelines and reduce the cost of automation deployment.
[Watch webinar: RPA Hero to Zero – How to Rescue Your Bots]
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Bots perform a defined set of tasks repeatedly and without fail. That’s because the bot has been specifically programmed for that job. But traditional bots cannot apply the function of learning to improve themselves or adapt their skills to a different set of circumstances.
That’s where machine learning is increasingly contributing to building more intelligent bots and expanding scope and potential.
Intelligent bots are the offspring of machine learning combined with traditional RPA, as follows:
- Learning occurs, so that the bot spits out less exceptions and improves processing accuracy (e.g., recognition of digital images advances to enhance the accuracy of identified document type)
- The scope of the processes that can be undertaken by RPA expand (e.g., using natural language processing to understand customer inquiries and handle automated responses)
Machine learning leverages algorithms that let machines learn as they go. This is an essential component of making automation smarter. It has multiple applications in business and industry.
McKinsey reports that organizations already working with intelligent bots have seen results in:
- Automation of 50% to 70% of tasks
- Reduction in straight-through process time by 50% to 60%
- Decreased annual run-rate costs by 20% to 30%
- High ROI in the triple-digits for most businesses
With machine learning and artificial intelligence, robotic process automation can move beyond basic automation. That way, it significantly increases productivity and dramatically expands the envelope of potential use cases.
Automation of RPA Development
There are a growing number of RPA vendors and other process automation support tools that can automate the process of building bots. In so doing, there’s a substantial savings of time and cost. Plus, risks are reduced, regarding developed software not aligning with the business need.
Here are the capabilities that exist in these platforms:
- Automated Process Discovery. AI-powered ability to document process flows and variations, saving time and money through automated production of business requirements and process flows.
- Automated RPA Code Development. Automated creation of scripts for major RPA platforms (e.g., UiPath, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and Pegasystems) means bots are being employed to build bots. That can sound scary, but it’s an amazing time and money saver.
- Automated Learning. Many of the top RPA platforms have sophisticated learning centers, so business and technology people can access and consume role-based learning content.
It’s important to find those RPA platforms that are not only good at automating business processes, but also can automate the methodology and lifecycle for bot development.
Master Data Management and Data Normalization
For most organizations, data is the currency that fuels business operations. But, unfortunately, there are often data siloes, non-integrated applications and poor data quality that often manifest in poor customer service and an opaque ability to understand historical trends and predict the future.
Master data management (MDM) is a technology-enabled process in which business and technologist collaborate to ensure that data is identified, rationalized, accurate, secure, and that ownership accountability is clear.
Data normalization is the natural by-product of MDM, whereby all data spanning all systems are identified and managed so that a “one version of the truth” can be created to facilitate operations and decision making. Often a data lake or superset of data is created, and program developed to extract, transact, load and normalize data.
Subsequently, an organization can accurately understand what happened (history), what will happen (predict), and how to change the future (prescribe).
Although there’s an abundance of digital technology available and at your fingertips, not everyone knows how to use it efficiently and in a way to grow your business.
Working side by side with a critical thinking technology partner like System Soft Technologies (SSTech) can show you how. Our deep expertise of the digital employee and customer experience, digital transformation and cloud solutions and services empowers your organization to operate more agilely. Your business will realize increased efficiencies, higher productivity and lower costs. All that means healthier profit margins and greater growth.
Cast your ballot for following best practices and implementing digital technology. That will give rise to easing some of the demanding decisions you need to make every day for business success.
Let us know how we can help modernize your organization and align your systems to meet your business needs.
About the Author: Stephen Moritz
Stephen Moritz serves as the Chief Digital Officer at System Soft Technologies. Steve, an avid warrior of fitness and health, champions driving business transformation and growth through the implementation of innovative technology. He often shares his knowledge about Digital Marketing, Robotic Process Automation, Predictive Analytics, Machine Learning and Cloud-based Services.