Business Process Automation, or BPA, is one of the most exciting moves in the business world. BPA promises greater efficiency, better performance, lower costs, and all the other side benefits that come with it.
But until technology catches up, things will continue to lag. So the question is, what does 2022 hold for us?
What is business process automation?
As the business world becomes more technologically advanced, so do the tasks and processes that growing organizations use to remain competitive in the marketplace.
According to Laserfiche, “Business process automation (BPA) is the use of technology to automate repeatable day-to-day tasks. Speeds up the way work gets done by routing information to the right person at the right time through user-defined rules and actions. As a result, BPA helps organizations streamline processes like onboarding, accounts payable, contract management, and more. “
For a process to be “qualified” for GAP, it must meet certain criteria and factors. For instance:
- The process should require consistency across the organization.
- It should be repeatable.
- The process should be somewhat predictable.
- It should be bug-free (every time).
The goal of BPA is to make processes more agile and profitable. In other words, these processes should reduce costs, decrease inputs, increase profitability, and at the same time require less manual effort and / or person-hours.
The difference between BPA and BPM
While the terms are used interchangeably, business process automation and business process management (BPM) are not the same. While BPA uses technology to automate repeatable tasks, BPM is a collaboration between business and IT to model and optimize business processes to achieve broader strategic goals. To put it another way, BPM is a practice that looks at the organization as a whole, while BPA is a strategy to improve particular processes. Therefore, BPM is the general ideology, while BPA refers to the individual action steps.
“A combination of BPA and BPM can be powerful, as BPM describes and provides an architecture for all business processes to be mapped and automated.” Red Hat explains. “When applied within a BPM practice, BPA can be used to continuously monitor and improve the efficiency of processes.”
It is always a good idea to have a BPM framework in place. Still, as we move into 2022, leading organizations are more focused on implementing specific BPA technology to improve efficiency and profitability in key areas of their businesses.
As such, that’s where innovation is focused right now.
The main trends in business process automation
Innovation is booming in the BPA space. So while we could highlight dozens of individual ideas and innovations, we’ll keep it simple and focus on the biggest trends we see as we prepare to shift the calendar from 2021 to 2022.
1. Organizational visibility from start to finish
From a management perspective, having gaps in your organization’s visibility is dangerous. It allows small problems to fester below the surface and potentially grow into much bigger problems down the road.
Fortunately, BPA solutions make it easy to enjoy end-to-end organizational visibility with few (if any) gaps.
For example, FinancialForce has a automation of professional services platform that allows companies to easily manage teams across the organization with valuable, real-time information.
This includes the ability to schedule the right people with the right skills for the right projects at the right time. It also streamlines the traditionally meticulous handoff between sales and service. Departments can work together through a shared view of the customer portfolio instead of working in silos.
Platforms like this are becoming more common in organizations of all sizes. Because once you install a system, it is fully scalable and adaptable. (They are so effective, you’ll wonder how you managed without them.)
2. Better onboarding of employees
Your business is only as good as the people you have on your team. And if you want a productive team, it all starts with a strong onboarding process.
The onboarding process is where you make your first impression as an organization. If things start off on the wrong foot, you will compromise your ability to get the most value from your employees. However, if things start out positively, it gives you a good launching pad for bigger and better things.
BPA paves the way for simplified and automated employee onboarding by eliminating endless paperwork, disjointed tasks, employee dissatisfaction, and low productivity. Additionally, it ensures a smooth transition from one onboarding task to the next, fully integrating employees into the organization in a way that stabilizes the organization.
3. Proactive cybersecurity
Cybersecurity threats are a big problem for both small businesses and large organizations. (In fact, many hackers are targeting small businesses because they tend to be more vulnerable.) But thanks to BPA’s advanced solutions, it is possible for any organization of any size to be more proactive with its cybersecurity efforts.
When implemented correctly, automation can proactively detect cyber attacks at the first sign of a threat. This ensures that attack attempts only reach the “front porch” and never really “inside”.
BPA is fast becoming an essential component of any business’s cybersecurity mantle. The best tools have validation technology and require multiple levels of authentication.
4. Voice activated automation
We see significant growth in the voice-activated automation space (and you can expect it to burst onto the scene in 2022). This technology, which is also growing rapidly in the consumer market with technologies such as Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Home, is perfect for increasing flexibility and productivity in the workplace.
The key to voice-activated automation in the workplace is to implement it in a way that promotes greater efficiency (rather than complicating existing processes). Examples include:
- Turn lights on and off in areas where employees are likely to have their hands full (such as storage rooms).
- Recording notes and video in meeting rooms.
- Unlocking of doors and other access points.
Voice-activated automation is especially powerful when it comes to connecting different platforms. For example, when you combine a tool like Google Home with an application like IFTTT or Zapier, the possibilities are endless.
5. Reallocation of human work
For decades, people have been concerned that automation and robots will eventually steal jobs from humans and make employees obsolete. But the more we watch the BPA advance, it becomes clear that this is not the case. In fact, the opposite is true.
What BPA will do in 2022 is simply reassign human work to more strategic positions. In other words, automated technology streamlines menial and repetitive tasks (which are expensive for companies and frustrating for employees). In turn, these employees can reallocate their energy, creativity, and talents to tasks that require human involvement. This makes them more valuable to their employers, while ensuring that employees spend more time doing more enjoyable work.
6. Stacking AI technology
Artificial intelligence will become much more common in organizations in 2022. More specifically, we hope to see different tools layered and integrated together in a way that increases their value. This includes machine learning, image recognition, natural language processing, and even intelligent optical character recognition.
By creatively and intentionally combining various AI technologies, companies will be able to use these tools in ways previously thought impossible. This will fundamentally transform digital workflows and dramatically increase productivity across the board. It’s going to be a game changer, to say the least.
Looking to the future
It is impossible to know which specific technologies will take root in the next three to five years. (There are many things that can change so quickly.) However, we know this to be true: automating business processes will continue to be a central focus for growing organizations that want to improve productivity, increase production, and strengthen bottom line results.
If you want your organization to enjoy these tantalizing benefits, you would be wise to place a similar emphasis on BPA in 2022 and beyond.