Five reasons your business needs IPA
Ryan Falkenberg, co-CEO, CLEVVA discusses five reasons why business need to adopt intelligent process automation (IPA).
Intelligent process automation (IPA) is beginning to take its rightful place in businesses as a subset of and precursor to full blown artificial intelligence. It consists of a number of digital workers that together allow a company to automate processes with precision and speed. They include process specialists, often collectively categorised as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), that perform both front-office and back office processes. This includes automating logic that sits outside and inside operational systems.
These process specialists require input data to automate these processes, and that is where a number of intelligent digital co-workers are stepping in to help. Natural Language digital specialists, for example chatbots, engage directly with the customer to gather required input data for the process specialists. Optical Character Reading (OCR) digital workers help read image files such as pdf forms to get the required input fields into required data formats. And AI algorithms can help collect additional missing data found within vast unstructured data sources.
As these digital workers get better at doing their specialist functions, and working together to automate end-to-end processes, companies with legacy systems are being empowered to automate within dynamic changing realities.
Some African businesses are still reluctant to take the automation plunge though, because of concerns about job losses. While those are valid, automation is increasingly playing a role in making humans more productive, and freeing them up to focus on being creative, reasoning, innovating, and, well being human.
Here are 5 ways your business could benefit from IPA this year:
Allowing staff to do more with less training - Imagine starting a new job, or a new role, and having someone there to hold your hand and guide you through every step of onboarding, induction and training. Once you’re up to speed, they will sit beside you - all day, every day - to guide your decision-making, and help you to focus on delivering value. They will free you from repetitively following processes and procedures, and then hook up everything you do to a back-office worker to close the loop. Sound good? That’s what IPA can do for you and your teams. Today.
The happiness dividend - The 2018 Deloitte Global Robotics Survey shows that 80% of organisations that have implemented and/or are scaling RPA have a happier workforce as a result (didn’t see that one coming, did you?). It’s not that hard to work out why, though. If you previously spent half your day copying and pasting data from one place to another, and it’s now automated for you, you’re going to be a lot happier on a day to day basis.
ROI - A McKinsey statistic from 2016 indicates that just RPA alone can deliver returns of 30% to 200% in the first year alone. McKinsey is quick to note, however, that the financial returns shouldn’t be seen as the be all and end all. For companies in heavily regulated sectors, building an IPA workforce lets them step their compliance efforts up a notch - effortlessly. For customer-service heavy sectors, IPA frees workers up to focus on the customer and not the process. Returns like these deliver much more than the immediately obvious ROI figures.
Speed and accuracy - IPA digital workers can work flawlessly, and tirelessly, never needing a break. This can have a big impact on the accuracy of the data residing in a company’s systems (especially important in the era of POPIA). IPA digital workers can ensure the right data is gathered and the right processes executed without breaks or errors, smoothing out and speeding up processing times.
Customer service is king - Flawless data capture has another benefit - reducing customer irritation with data errors. How many of us spend our lives trying to get our addresses corrected on bills, or being addressed as Mr not Mrs because whoever onboarded the customer initially wasn’t paying attention when transferring data from one system to another? IPA digital workers can ease errors like this out of the system, or flag them for a human to make a decision on and correct.
No matter what industry you are in or what legacy system environment you operate in, IPA can deliver benefits. The best returns are still in industries that are highly-process driven and highly-regulated. From ensuring clear audit trails to helping technical specialists diagnose problems on oil rigs - IPA digital workers can go anywhere, and do anything. And with the technology available today, you don’t even need to be a coder to create your own digital workers, meaning it frees up your IT function too.
For more information on business topics in Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Africa.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”