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Using smart automation to stay ahead of COVID-19 disruption

By on March 23, 2021 0

As organizations move from responding to the COVID-19 crisis to planning for long-term resilience in the workplace, Jim Nicol explains why intelligent automation is a key emerging tool in response and recovery in the event pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to disrupt business operations on an unprecedented scale, organizations focused on mitigating the impact of the crisis. Deploying collaboration technology has become a priority as employees transitioned to working from home. But now that companies are past the first pivot point, they must look to the future and build a workforce that is resilient to future disruptions.

One way to get past the COVID-19 curve is to think about digital investments more broadly and how expanding technological capabilities can increase the workforce. Finding the right balance between human workers and the digital workforce will go a long way in helping businesses mitigate the impact of the pandemic on operations while helping them prepare for tomorrow. Intelligent automation is the key to achieving this. With it, businesses can foster seamless collaboration among remote workers, engage and serve customers, and make the entire enterprise more resilient to future disruptions.

To achieve this goal, companies must accelerate digital transformation, focusing in particular on three areas: improving the customer experience, improving operational efficiency and activating the workforce. remotely.

Drive a better customer experience

Across industries, organizations are looking to grow self-service and digital sales. Consumer expectations – in part defined by pre-COVID-19 business practices like next day delivery and rapid response rates – are even higher today as in-person transactions come to a halt. So customer satisfaction depends more than ever on companies’ ability to keep customers engaged and informed. As customers go digital for service, questions, orders and cancellations, the digital customer experience will become the number one priority for CIOs.

Intelligent automation expands a business’s ability to meet growing digital demand from any channel. It combines several technologies capable of quickly and accurately processing structured and unstructured data. This allows businesses to automate the receipt and processing of a wide range of customer information and
inquiries, including requests, orders, and problem-solving requests. For example, complaints handling can be largely automated using virtual assistants and robotic process automation (RPA), leaving humans with more complex tasks and nuanced customer service.

Another example is the mortgage origination process. With electronic signature and self-service capabilities, banks can digitize much of the documents traditionally associated with loans. Using cognitive capture, they can extract data from unstructured data sources such as images and PDFs (e.g. driver’s license and other identification). The customer does not need to come to the office or branch to complete the loan transaction. Automation means faster, better decisions and more loyal customers.

Increase operational efficiency

While many companies have made significant strides in automating customer-centric processes, back office functions have fallen behind. Without the integration of front and back operations, businesses will struggle to deliver the kind of experience customers now expect. While manual scanning, uploading and physical handling of paper is already a slow and error-prone process, the COVID-19 pandemic is at risk of stopping everything as employees no longer have access to documents left in the office.

Businesses must reassess and re-equip their IT infrastructure if they are to “survive and thrive” in the post-COVID-19 world, McKinsey & Co. stresses. To cut costs, the consulting firm recommends automating manual and repetitive tasks and make more use of the cloud. Additionally, as businesses take advantage of technology to automate and digitize back office functions, such as invoice processing, document receipt, and remote exception management, they will become more efficient and provide a better service. superior level of service to customers.

Many organizations are already turning to the cloud for business continuity. Indeed, Microsoft reported a 775% increase in the use of its cloud services. It’s easy to see why: Cloud-based intelligent automation technologies allow businesses to be more flexible and agile.

Allow remote workforce

When staff can’t make it to the office, intelligent automation ensures that the data gets to them. Via the cloud, teleworkers have access to all the information they need to keep the business running smoothly. Digital assistants are precise and fast. They handle mundane and time-consuming tasks including data collection, systems entry, and communications routing, freeing up the back office team to focus on more critical tasks. And with document scanning, image capture, electronic signatures and other digital technologies, the information employees need is right at their fingertips, not on a hard drive in the office or in a stack at the office. manager’s office.

Implement intelligent automation

Companies ready to transform their operations with intelligent automation should start by forming a Center / Center of Excellence (CoE), made up of both IT executives and business owners who are functional and focused on automation. This team will assess opportunities, identify and implement the right technology, and manage growth and innovation.

The next step is to perform a data, technology and process assessment. Data is the backbone of smart operations, and the team will need to understand all the structured and unstructured data sources in their internal and external ecosystems – and how to leverage them – in order to generate breakthrough insights.

An audit of business processes is essential to identify those that can be easily automated. Well-documented and optimized processes are the best candidates for automation.

Choosing the right technology is also crucial. Organizations should seek a single intelligent automation platform that transforms information-intensive business processes from start to finish. The right technology should help organizations accelerate their automation initiatives by streamlining the development and deployment of solutions with document intelligence that leverages AI, along with low-code capabilities and simplified integration with third-party software.

Finally, organizations must commit to constantly innovating. This means developing relationships with a range of actors, including startups, universities and technology providers to guide the future and ensure resilience.

Accelerating digital transformation will help organizations get ahead of the COVID-19 curve. By extending virtual capabilities with intelligent automation and practices that support collaboration, organizations can begin to “work like tomorrow, today”. In doing so, they will increase productivity, improve employee morale, and be more resilient to future disruptions.

The author

Jim Nicol is Executive Vice President of Products, Kofax.

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