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Championing Business Continuity through Automation

By: Suman Reddy

The last few months have been one of the biggest endorsements for the need for digital transformation. Automation technologies have emerged as the silver bullet for organizations facing the dual challenges of keeping business continuity and employee health intact. Likewise, the COVID-induced global disruption has also been a massive wakeup call for the business circumspect of embracing the change.

Remember the famous Ant and the Grasshopper story, where the ant was preparing for the winter throughout the days of summer by storing up the food while the grasshopper chose not to plan for the rough days ahead, leading to its starvation? Similarly, we have seen organizations that have onboarded the digital train very late and struggled with their business continuity while the ones that had already adapted the emerging technologies and transformed digitally moved seamlessly towards the new phase of remote working.

Proactive measures have become the need of the hour, especially considering the reliance of businesses today on emerging technologies. Be it video collaboration tools allowing critical meetings or process automation software to effectively help customers with their requests, the need for a potent and reliable technology has never been greater.

But even with the doomsday-like economic projections from the pandemic, the ongoing crisis has resulted in some interesting case studies where enterprises are leveraging technology effectively to successfully ensure business continuity and workforce management. Organizations of all sizes are climbing the ladder of technology in some form or the other to address challenges like saving jobs and building a sustainable, transformative platform for the future. The crisis has led to some unique solutions from organizations the world over and has given a lot to the business leaders to ponder over during the post-COVID era.

The Future Is Now

The onus is on the leaders to provide an inspirational vision for the future in the midst of all this chaos. There are now multiple opportunities to thrown open to better leverage technology due to the contagion where governments and financial organizations can be assisted on multiple fronts so they can continue to provide critical services to the public.

Automation technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), artificial intelligence (AI), and robotic process automation (RPA) among others are doing a tremendous job of bringing a change in the way we work and enhancing efficiency in the COVID era. Verticals such as healthcare, IT, BFSI are already leveraging automation technologies and delivering significant results. Today, we see several success stories where these technologies are helping businesses with productivity, human resource management, and many other critical areas of business with a great success rate.

By utilizing task-based automation tools like RPA, organizations can dramatically cut the time its employees spend on labour-intensive and repetitive tasks. More importantly, end-to-end automation platforms can help users connect across increasingly distributed work enterprises – of which we have no choice but to embrace in this pandemic – and ensure that hand-offs are clean, visibility is maintained, and nothing falls through the cracks.

Low Code- The Secret Ingredient

We might all be gung-ho about all these automation technologies and how they can be adopted across myriad enterprise challenges, but their success ultimately depends on the applications that support them. Building the right app for the diverse requirements of each of the sectors can be quite a taxing job. This is where nimbler low-code development platforms are becoming go-to platforms to enable organization to react quickly to changing circumstances by standing up new application to meet new challenges that weren’t even considered as a possibility before the pandemic hit.

Low-code’s visual development approach lets IT and businesses collaborate to design portions of the customer journey that are tied to immediate outcomes – such as fulfilling a customer service request. Businesses can then quickly tie those journeys both to front-end channels and UIs and back to existing systems that store key data sets and transactions. By bringing IT and business together in a collaborative and prescriptive way, companies can accelerate the path from idea to application and build a framework for rapid agility and change. Not just for one process, but re-thinking of their business from center-out, starting with the customer journeys they need to automate.

For example, organizations are using low-code development platforms to quickly roll out apps that help them track the spread of COVID-19 within their business to mitigate risks. The Bavarian government in Germany, for instance, has adopted a highly configurable platform to create a faster application process for financial relief for small and medium-sized businesses that are allowing them to stay afloat.

With its agile development and collaborative features, low-code development platforms will play a crucial role in addressing the growing demand for app development. A study by Gartner predicts the demand in the market for app development to grow to at least five times faster than what IT is capable to deliver by 2021. As the need for digital transformation is higher today than ever, low-code application development has turned out to be a key ingredient for enterprises across the world.

Towards the Post-COVID Era

As companies get acclimatized to this new way of working, they also need to make sure they have the processes in place to manage their workforce. The advent of the post-COVID era is going to be dictated by massive learnings that we have gained from the current crisis and to adapt to the world of tomorrow.

The path ahead may be uncertain for everyone now, but there is no doubt that technology will continue to play an important role in helping businesses stay afloat. With all these advantages, automation is a good lever and driving force for transformation even more so in times of adversity. When some semblance of normality returns, the right automation tools applied in the right architecture will be critical to ensuring we’re all able to adapt to whatever that ‘new normal’ looks like. Let’s all hope it arrives sooner rather than later.

(The author is Managing Director, Pegasystems India and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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