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Digital agility begins with automation

Published July 29, 2020

Written by: Sean Chou
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Sean Chou

Sean Chou is the CEO of Catalytic, an automation cloud platform for business operations. Prior to Catalytic, Chou held the role of founding Chief Technology Officer and EVP of Services at Fieldglass. Chou launched his career at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Follow Sean on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Well, many companies adopt automation in only one department of their business, while the rest of the department will rely on legacy systems. An automation platform cannot perform to its ultimate capabilities if the whole company is not on the same system. When you talk about company-wide automation, many companies are hesitant to deploy automation company-wide because it can require a lot of training and the system may not be user-friendly.

Those that struggle with their automation strategies are often implementing robotic process automation (RPA), which is suitable for processes that have not already been entirely digitized. Still, it presents a number long-term limitations, such as high maintenance costs and inability to scale. Many companies are sticking to legacy tech, rather than automation.

What disadvantages does legacy tech pose to a company?

The main drawback of legacy technologies is that often people need to use multiple systems to complete a full process, or bits and pieces of the work can’t be executed in legacy systems and needs to be manually performed. Most enterprise’s daily operations contain hundreds, if not thousands, of tasks and processes which are heavily dependent on data management and recurring repetitive actions. Each process or task creates an opportunity for mistakes, missed hand-offs and flawed data entry.

Not to mention, the numerous hours employees waste completing these repetitive tasks, only to go back to find and correct any errors made along the way. This time spent on manual work using legacy technologies is inefficient, costly and becomes a drain on your employees — ultimately, hurting productivity and customer satisfaction. There is an emphasis on how automation can revolutionize the operations side of a company.

What benefits do company-wide automation bring to an organization?

Automation can revolutionize operations by cutting costs, improving productivity, increasing revenue and aid in growing a business.

There are so many documents, data points and reports that make up a business’ operations, a majority of which can be easily automated, guaranteeing these processes are completed quickly and correctly.

What’s more, automating operations processes can reveal gaps, omissions and duplicates in a system and then automatically trigger a procedure to fix those issues. By automating the process of data management and review, you also create an opportunity for continuous improvement.

Automation eliminates the repetitive, monotonous work, so employees are free to focus on the more “human” and value-creating aspects of their jobs, such as managing supplier relationships and developing product strategy. This often translates into employees being more engaged,  productive and happy at work.

>> Intelligent Automation: Must-have skill for tomorrow’s procurement professionals. <<

What does digital agility look like in a organization and how does it work with automation?

In situations like the pandemic where every aspect of business has been impacted, from revenue and profitability to operations and people management, companies must operate at maximum efficiency to survive. Digital agility is especially crucial during times of crisis because it allows you to maintain business continuity and quickly pivot your operations to combat challenges.

Automation lends itself to achieving digital agility by eliminating human error, increasing workflow efficiency and improving employee productivity. On a larger scale, your company becomes completely flexible and agile at scale, transforming your business to become leaner, more digitized, and better able to completely adapt and evolve as operational and market factors change. COVID-19 poses many threats to companies and they are finding creative solutions to tackle these threats.

How can company-wide automation be an innovative solution to companies in the COVID-19 era?

A great example that comes to mind is the pandemic rapid risk assessment Grant Thronton released when the coronavirus outbreak began.

Using Catalytic’s technology, Grant Thornton quickly built a time-sensitive Pandemic Rapid Response Assessment (RRA) tool for instant risk calculation and resilience planning recommendations. The tool addresses four distinct pandemic impact zones: liquidity and cash flow management, people and labor, supply and demand, and external factors/tax.

The RRA assessment intakes a detailed questionnaire and then pulls in data from multiple sources and systems to enrich the initial information gathered. This data is used to provide businesses with an instant, quantitative assessment of pandemic risks and tailored resiliency plans.

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