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Companies Need Automation Champions to Spearhead Innovation

Global businesses are experiencing unprecedented workforce disruption in the new business environment, brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. It becomes essential for organizations to develop automation solutions that will mitigate the impact of systems disruption, free up human resource capacity, and streamline IT workforce management. Studies have also shown that 98% of companies who have adopted new technologies such as automation, DevOps and continuous delivery are outperforming their peers and are better prepared to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

In an exclusive interaction with CXOToday, Rajendra Prasad, Senior Managing Director, Global Automation Lead, Accenture Technology, explains how hyper automation can help organizations enable a quick and reliable response to critical system vulnerabilities and what IT leaders should prioritize to spearhead growth and innovation in this new normal.

CXOToday: When talking about automation, what should IT leaders prioritize?

Rajendra Prasad: Overall, IT leaders need to champion a holistic automation journey that is scalable for the long-term and is supported by an automation platform that is adaptable to the changing technology landscape. It requires not only a change in technology, but also processes and the way people work and think about the opportunities that automation can deliver. This calls for an enterprise-wide approach, where the technology piece is often the easiest part of this equation. To be sure, there are many ways that automation can deliver impactful benefits quickly to shore up systems resilience and create efficiencies. Yet, to yield the greatest ROI and build the IT organization into a source of innovation for the business, organizations need all these elements working in concert to be sustainable for the long-term.

When planning an automation strategy, it is also essential for technology leaders to understand the priorities and challenges of the business. This could be anything from a better user experience for customers or employees and a faster, more accurate financial closing process to drive availability of mission-critical applications or an overall more efficient and cost-effective IT function. In other words, automation and IT should be closely aligned to business goals.

CXOToday: Why do organizations today need enhanced automation capabilities and what role does it play in improving business growth?

Rajendra Prasad: When AI-powered automation is implemented across an enterprise it creates tremendous business value. It can reduce manual tasks, minimize disruption and drive operational and cost efficiencies. This ultimately results in a more resilient business. In fact, we have found that leading organizations that are adopting new technologies like automation, continuous delivery and DevOps are outperforming their peers in operating margin and revenue growth, bringing benefits like faster time to market for products and services.

What is important to note today is that automation is driven by advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide incredible speed, agility and predictability for systems and operations. Organizations are infusing AI into business-critical applications and infrastructure management, such as chatbots that use RPA (robotic process automation) with cognitive capabilities to help with faster resolution of issues or predicting potential business issues before they occur. Overall, automation can be a great accelerator for innovation– enabling better utilization of human talent, promoting adoption of new tech skills and driving better customer satisfaction.

CXOToday: How can companies prepare their workforce for the impact of automation?

Rajendra Prasad: Intelligent automation should be used and implemented as an enabler of human-machine collaboration. It has the power to augment human workers and can transform how people work. For example, Accenture offers virtual agents, which are like “digital co-workers”. These AI assistants can help employees with more accurate and faster decision-making, drawing on collective enterprise experience and advanced data insights.AI can also automate routine, repetitive tasks, freeing up capacity for people to do more complex, value-add work. This all requires a shift in the culture to embrace adaptability and change. There needs to be an understanding that part of the automation journey is continuous innovation. In other words, the work of automation is never complete and changing the mindset to think about what can I innovate and improve next? It also will require the workforce, beyond only IT, to train, re-skill and up-skill.

To prepare the workforce, from the top down, leaders should clearly communicate the benefits and expectations the transformation will have for employees and customers alike. It can also be beneficial to nominate an automation “champion” who will promote co-innovation, communicate realized value from automation efforts and spearhead continuous learning.

CXOToday: How are organizations overcoming operational disruptions with the help of hyper automation?

Rajendra Prasad: The pandemic tested the resilience of IT systems like never before. As a result, the adaptability and speed of digital technology transformation has become critical for businesses. Hyper automation helps organizations overcome operational disruptions by mitigating the impact on applications and infrastructure as well as prepare for continued uncertainty such as sudden shifts in customer demand, supply chains and network usage. In this approach, we quickly identify automation opportunities and “quick wins” to address sudden operational challenges. For example, we can eliminate system bottlenecks, automate incident ticket resolution, improve availability of critical applications and free up human resources so they may focus on other areas more critical to the business. But it is not enough to stop there. The automation journey should be part of the strategy for future growth, focusing on scaling automation throughout the enterprise and building up AI-driven automation capabilities.

CXOToday: How is Accenture helping organizations in this area to help streamline costs and operations?

Rajendra Prasad: Speed and agility have become more important than ever to organizations, including looking to transform their IT systems to maximize efficiency and performance. Accenture is helping organizations accelerate their adoption of transformative solutions like AI, data, cloud and automation, as they aim to remain competitive and deliver business innovation. Accenture myWizard, our integrated intelligent automation platform, combines the best AI-infused technology assets with plug-and-play architecture to enable this.

This new generation of myWizard includes an automation journey roadmap which aligns business priorities to IT, tracking value realization and ROI and identifying new automation opportunities. It offers expanded capabilities for modern engineering, including software quality engineering, modern operations and enterprise automation journey management with automation for DevOps in the cloud. The platform has already helped some of Accenture’s 9,000 myWizard engagements at 1,500 companies to improve user experiences by more than 50%, reduce IT operational costs by up to 60% and get new products and services to market up to eight times faster.

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at CXOToday, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at sohini.bagchi@trivone.com