As we take stock of business technology at the start of a new year, it is clear that enterprises are all over the map when it comes to the automation trajectory. Companies that are just starting to implement and discover benefits from robotic process automation (RPA) are what we call Bot 1.0 companies. They have RPA in production and have had a center of excellence (CoE) in place for at least six months. Companies that have had their CoE for at least a year and are experimenting with cognitive are considered Bot 2.0 companies. Bot 3.0 companies have deployed RPA in multiple functions and are deep into cognitive.
If you are at anything less than a Bot 3.0 company, you may be wondering how to quickly mature your automation program to get there. Here are the top three accelerators to move your company to Bot 3.0:
- If you have not started your automation journey at all or even if are a Bot 1.0 company, the key next step is solidifying your CoE. Don’t be tempted to rest on your laurels after your first few automations. Build up your pipeline of process candidates, enter multiple processes into the development lifecycle and go! The goal is to move quickly and – at the same time – make sure your CoE is a stable entity that can handle the speed. Strike a balance to pursue the CoE’s short and long-term goals. Define how the CoE will mature automation standards and processes while it builds bots. Precise planning will enable you to move quickly and fully reap the benefits of automation.
- If you are a Bot 2.0 company, you are likely wondering how you can become a Bot 3.0 company.A key differentiator between Bot 2.0 and Bot 3.0 is the use of cognitive. Companies at this level often become stuck in cognitive “analysis paralysis” that sets in when they confront the daunting number of vendors and opportunities. The trick here is to pick a function or area to pilot and proceed quickly. Chatbots, image recognition, natural language processing (NLP), cognitive reasoning and data extraction and analysis can offer great rewards, but the list of emerging technologies is a lot to take in. Choose one to get started and use it as your “warm up.” Anything learned at this stage is valuable, regardless of which capability you pilot first.
- If you are a Bot 3.0 company, you may believe you are sitting in the catbird seat. But that is not likely to last for long! Bot 3.0 companies must think about expanding their use of cognitive technologies and addressing any “whitespace” they may detect in the form of manual subprocesses between automated solutions. Ask yourself questions such as: what can be tied together? How can we eliminate whitespace? What subprocesses can be automated and linked to create end-to-end automation across the enterprise? New products are entering the market on a regular basis so Bot 3.0 companies must always be looking for ways to innovate and move to the next level. Remember, Bot 2.0 companies are right on your heels!
The biggest hurdle to maturing an automation program is the reluctance or inability to move quickly – a focus on speed is key to maintaining the forward momentum that drives CoE results and efficacy, which is essential to realizing the tangible benefits of automation in the enterprise. If you consider that the average RPA automation lifecycle is six to eight weeks, waiting even a few months to take the next step can put you behind significantly.
Keep in mind that the past can help you forecast the trajectory for the future. Compare the maturity of your CoE six months ago to its maturity today. Will you be satisfied another six months from now if the maturity progresses at the same rate? Don’t overthink it – just go!