CEO and Co-Founder of Automation Anywhere, the leading global provider of enterprise RPA.
While society has had to adapt to unthinkable restrictions, isolation and disruptions to one’s routine during the pandemic of 2020, businesses have had to rapidly put in place programs to better ensure basic survival. Business continuity has become the critical focus with, in many cases, nail-biting intensity. What’s interesting is how many companies seemed to be on the brink of peril before Covid-19. The pandemic simply nudged them over the edge.
If nothing more, this crisis has laid bare an imperative for companies to not only be productive and efficient but to also be resilient during crises. The impact of this movie-like crisis has created a new mandate. Business resilience has become every leader’s new focus, and it mustn’t become just a new catchphrase.
Every organization must be able to respond quickly to both the most subtle and the most obvious market shifts — and especially the most foreboding. To achieve this, businesses must be operationally resilient. They must be able to scale their businesses up or down, this way or that, in a matter of days, not weeks — certainly not months. This is the real promise of intelligent automation and why Gartner has identified it as the fastest-growing enterprise tech segment at over 60% per year. When you deploy intelligent automation in the cloud, the flexibility and scalability they bring with them introduce a most compelling multiplier effect, unlike anything we’ve seen in decades.
Cloud’s Finest Hour
Even before Covid-19, it was estimated that 83% of enterprise workloads would be better managed in the cloud by the end of 2020. For many IT leaders who were hesitant to migrate to the cloud, the pandemic has provided a renewed urgency.
We are witnessing a surge in demand for cloud-based solutions. Many holdouts considered on-premise solutions to be safer due to the control they seemingly afforded, whereas the cloud has been viewed with skepticism, especially in the more heavily regulated industries. In just the last few months, this has meaningfully shifted. Now, on-prem is considered riskier in part because it provides far less flexibility and expandability.
Consider this: If your business had critical systems deployed as cloud solutions before the pandemic, you likely experienced far more reliable business systems continuity compared to those who scrambled to keep their companies running when their employees couldn’t be in the office. Online solutions offer organizations the ability to scale business operations up or down with extraordinary immediacy. And web-based technology is accessible to everyone, from anywhere — including in their homes when required.
The cloud is playing a more crucial role in business operations infrastructure than ever before. Even the most heavily regulated industries are moving whatever they can to the cloud, like HR, finance and supply chain functions. Heavily-regulated banks have turned to cloud automation to process the deluge of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications. They have been able to implement and execute these processes quickly to meet historic demand. A resilient business is one where we can far surpass the needs of our customers from anywhere, anytime. To meet their needs, we must meet them in the cloud.
Overhauling Disjointed Business Processes
The massive disruption caused by the pandemic has also underscored the shortcomings of outdated business systems. Global supply chains have been strained to the breaking point in providing nearly everything from disinfectant cleaners to personal protective equipment (PPE). Health care systems struggle to keep pace with surges in hospitalized patients. Because so many business processes are heavily reliant on people, scaling to meet such an unprecedented and divergent demand has threatened our basic sense of well-being.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to rapid increases in the number of patients requiring acute care. Patients with breathing difficulty require support to retain proper blood oxygen levels. Simply monitoring oxygen tanks is a manual process, requiring hospital staff to physically collect tank readings, then log into disparate systems to enter tank levels. Using robotic process automation (RPA), we created a bot for a general hospital that has freed up human resources and reduced unnecessary risk of reporting errors. It has been especially meaningful knowing it was for front-line workers.
Never waste a crisis. Masked within them are opportunities for real transformational change and a determination to more deftly sidestep the suffering next time. During times of daunting crisis lies an urgency to facilitate change even faster. Fear has a way of doing that. We have acknowledged the obviousness of basic business continuity; we must look far beyond it and imagine a business resilience that will see us through the next crisis and the many afterward.
Business resilience is a state in which the business can pivot so quickly that competitors find themselves dumbfounded — where every business process is lean, swift and easily modified and improved to meet any customer requirement, and where the business can surpass the needs of its customers, whatever their need, with a seamlessness that has until now been elusive. Intelligent automation is the fastest way to achieve business resilience and not a moment too soon. In the next six months, set a course that will enable you to automate at least half of the business processes in your company that really should be automated. That must be automated. Wait no longer.
Other best practices include creating an automation road map to determine which business processes to automate first, appointing an RPA officer to oversee the implementation and establishing milestones to continually refine the program. These dividends will be enormous even if you achieve part of this objective. It really is the highway to resilience and might very well be the most memorable revelation of a crisis all of us can’t wait to forget.
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