Putting digital to work: the process edition

Today, nearly every enterprise wants to go digital. After all, history has shown that those who don’t innovate and evolve are eventually outpaced by more daring competitors. For instance, we’ve previously discussed Blockbuster. While Netflix transformed itself from a young mail-order DVD service into the leader in digital media streaming, Blockbuster clung to its brick-and-mortar business model and eventually dug its own grave. Or, look at BlackBerry – during its prime it was the mobile device of choice for consumers and business people alike. But then competitors like Apple and Android emerged and set new customer expectations with the touchscreen. BlackBerry stuck by its QWERTY keyboard and trackball, and thus lost its standing in the marketplace.

Not looking to face the same unfortunate fates, companies across all industries are putting digital at the top of their priority list. And for many, going digital means bringing in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. These technologies are expected to help organizations improve process efficiency, reduce costs, better leverage their data, deliver better customer service and free up employees for more critical work. It comes as no surprise then that in a recent survey of 300 senior executives conducted by Genpact and Fortune Knowledge Group, 82 percent of respondents stated they plan to implement AI-related technologies in the next three years.

However, the survey also found that few organizations are ready to take full advantage of AI. Only 25 percent of the senior executives polled are generating the highest levels of positive business outcomes from their use of the technology. Why does this gap exist between companies looking to get on board with AI and those that are actually seeing real results? It’s largely due to a lot of confusion that still exists about which technologies to use, where to deploy them and how to start.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that AI and automation can take over everything. For example, a lot of hype has been built around technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) that can take over repetitive software tasks that would otherwise take up a large part of an employee’s day, such as data entry into an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or invoicing. But, bringing in AI and automation doesn’t mean your employees can just sit back and relax. There are still tasks that require more context, inferences and ultimate judgement, which are only possible with the human touch.

This is where intelligent business process management (BPM) can come in. Dynamic workflows can be designed to allocate work that a bot could easily and rapidly execute as well as tasks that need a human staff member to step up. Further, these sophisticated workflows can escalate cases to the appropriate people to do the job based on their experience, skill sets and current work capacity.

For instance, in prospect inquiry handling, a workflow can determine if an inquiry is a strong business lead and alert the best person on the sales team to personally follow up by phone or email. For more minor inquiries, a workflow can route them to the bots to create and send an introductory email just to establish a touchpoint for future follow up. So, the organization still gets the speed and immediacy of the bots in addition to the nuanced knowledge of a human. Overall, intelligent BPM results in faster processes and quicker and better service for customers, which all lead to improved revenue and other cost savings.

For more insight into how your business can effectively use AI, RPA and dynamic workflows to innovate and improve performance, read Genpact’s five-step framework, “When AI & Automation Meet.”