There are now increasingly mixed feelings about business process automation, and rightly so. While initially benefits lived up to the early hype (implementations achieve 30% to 200% ROI in the short term, reports McKinsey), mature projects are more disillusioned and typically run into a slew of challenges, particularly scaling. As automation comes of age, traditional approaches like robotic process automation (RPA) or points solutions for Business Process Management run into roadblocks around scalability, adaptability, and ease of use. The number of companies scaling RPA is growing at snail’s pace, found Deloitte, with just 4% of companies successfully moving into implementations involving 50+ bots. According to another report by IDG and Appian, automation was only “somewhat effective” (at best) for 65% of business users.
As your company gears up for a speedy recovery post-COVID-19 – taking advantage of a bullish market – can you afford to be held back by stumbling automation projects?
How to Move Beyond RPA: Is Hyperautomation the Answer?
Over the last few years, RPA has emerged as almost an industry default for automation.
Nearly 1 in 3 companies use RPA technology despite its numerous shortfalls. RPA-based process automations are mostly inflexible, with additional configurations needed for any change or extension to the system. You have to put in a lot of development effort, and even when using low-code platforms, there is significant effort duplication.
For example, if the RPA-automated invoice processing in your organization runs into an exception, it has to be manually configured into the script or might even require individual processing into your ERP.
As an enhancement to this, enterprises can choose hyperautomation that uses intelligent, cognitive technologies like AI-based process mining, machine learning algorithms, optical character recognition, etc., to make automations more intuitive and efficient. Gartner named hyperautomation among the top ten strategic technology trends for last year, anticipating its widespread potential.
But hyperautomation is far from reaching maturity. Unless you are a massive organization with a dedicated RPA budget to throw at promising experiments, hyperautomation remains out of reach, barring a few one-off projects.
A much more common approach to automating business processes is through SaaS-based point solutions.
Point solutions introduce a significant degree of automation without most business leaders even realizing it – for instance, a simple scheduling feature on email, automated “nudges” for communication follow-ups, or a copywriting tool automatically checking documents against a style guide. In the wake of COVID-19, point solutions have exploded in popularity as employees/individual business units choose their favorite automation aids without always facing IT intervention.
But, for the organization, this means mounting shadow IT, the risk of fragmentation, and growing dependency on external providers to support dynamic business processes.
What Point Solutions Get Right (and What They Do Not)
There is an argument to be made for SaaS-based point solutions. They are turnkey, easy to use, and – on the surface – involve minimal investments. It was only a matter of time before the “app-ification” of digital activity in the consumer world percolated into business processes, helped by a massive boom in B2B SaaS solutions.
However, the biggest USP of point solutions is their ready-to-use nature, which inherently makes them inflexible. As they target the widest possible user segment (without cognizance of the specific business use case), it is impossible to configure their automation capabilities as per your precise requirements. Or, if deeper configurations are available, you need an in-house expert with knowledge of that point solution.
As your business – and process map – evolves, you will find yourself reaching out to SaaS providers repeatedly to introduce the necessary features. In the long-term, this is an unsustainable model.
How HyperApps Help to Automate Enterprise Business Processes End-to-end
In addition to the three commonly discussed options (RPA, hyperautomation, and point solutions), companies can also consider the HyperApps approach when automating business processes. HyperApps combine the simplicity of low code with the power of intelligent automation and the cost convenience of SaaS to provide a comprehensive solution that truly empowers your business users.
Here’s a simple example from probably one of the most critical areas of your business, accounts payable processing in enterprise accounting: Let’s suppose as part of a new regulatory requirement, your accounts payable team must report all invoices in a specific currency and upload them into an e-invoicing portal. In the point solution scenario, your team will have to rely on the SaaS vendor to enable this change, who will charge an extra fee for that feature. However, with a HyperApp framework, your invoice processing group can configure that change themselves on the automation platform and make it available not just for the enterprise accounting function, but roll it out across the organization.
Unlike point solutions used for accounts payable automation, you can scale HyperApps to process any volume of invoices (as per our example – it is applicable to virtually any business process) and integrate with new/existing workflows.
Further, HyperApps bring in the flexibility you need in a dynamic business environment. Adapting your enterprise automation solutions to new business process requirements is made simple with a point-and-click interface, while integrations are available natively for use by business stakeholders, with little or no intervention from IT.
This could be a game-changer for companies as they enter a new era of digital transformation through end-to-end enterprise automation post-COVID-19.
Road to Recovery: HyperApps Can be the Pivot for Meaningful Digital Transformation
As companies gear up for what could be the world’s steepest recovery period to date, digitalization could either cripple growth or push it to new heights.
It is estimated that process automation and an even greater reliance on digital channels will be vital in the emerging future. For example, the number of public sector organizations citing automation as their top 3 priority grew from 23% pre-COVID to 35% in the post-COVID period. HyperApps enable predictable wins in the short term, low effort overheads and greater democratization in the mid-term, and radical advantages in the long term – addressing the challenges of using point solutions for automating business processes.
There’s something to be said for doing the right thing in the right way. The benefits of process automation are undeniable, especially in our new contactless and low-touch world. HyperApps help companies strike the right balance, enabling them to achieve immediate growth targets and paving the way for more opportunities in the future.