Nothing dictates significant change to enterprise operations better than macroeconomic pressures. These pressures – which include everything from soaring inflation, a looming recession, and people struggling to return to work – will drive organizations to operationalize agility.
What does this realistically mean for today’s organizations? Enterprises must start supplementing human labor with autonomous technologies and an autonomous mindset.
Analyst firm HFS Research dives into this topic in its recent research report, “The autonomous enterprise is much more than technology – it’s about operationalizing agility.” The firm conducted interviews with business and IT leaders to uncover what’s driving organizations to become autonomous and what technologies they’re leveraging to stay competitive in today’s economic climate.
“In 2023, major rethinking is taking place,” HFS reports. “Many firms simply struggle to navigate this complex and costly maze. The autonomous enterprise vision is where the survivors are going, but getting there requires fewer people and politics, less resistance to change, and great partnerships.”
As HFS explains, an autonomous enterprise leverages leadership that continuously seeks to refine the data it needs in real time to be successful. It also connects talent, tech infrastructure, automation, and AI together to deliver data successfully with minimal human intervention.
Most senior leaders interviewed in the report agreed that transitioning toward an autonomous enterprise is a continuous evolution of processes. Consider the autonomous enterprise a living organism – it’s a complex, adaptive system that constantly evolves and responds to its environment with the help of continuous digitization, automation, data, and AI.
As organizations plan their journey toward autonomous, HFS recommends following these building blocks for success to deliver better business outcomes:
- Rethink your processes
Start by defining and standardizing your interactions. What should you eliminate or simplify to quickly source the data you need? Re-envision your processes to ensure they’re optimized by design.
- Digitize process interactions into end-to-end integrated workflows
Ensure all interactions are captured and do not deviate from your re-engineered processes. Take this time to also abstract the complexity of multiple systems of record and build a seamless, enterprise-wide user experience.
- Automate rule-driven processes and decisions
Iteratively transform customer journeys using automation tools to automate processes as much as possible. Couple these tools with an orchestrator engine to manage and deploy automation workflows so your approach is governed and optimized.
- Complement automation with AI to digitize complex processes and decisions
Use historical workflow data to train AI copilots. AI codifies human-like reasoning to automate activities involving unstructured data. This allows you to get the intelligence you need while increasing the level of digitalization in your processes.
- Sync and connect
Centralize, govern, and orchestrate data before pushing it to your systems of record. A platform that connects modern and legacy systems will ensure you have a single source of harmonized data.
- Create modern digital applications with API-rich data services
Digitize processes so they can be added into a library of composable APIs. This allows for continual optimization and automation of a distributed technology and business landscape. Continue to modernize your legacy applications so you can build a digitally native application landscape across the organization.
- Deploy AI capabilities on top of the platform to generate process intelligence
Respond to contextual changes and re-engineer processes continuously by leveraging AI. This enables your organization to develop real-time insights – uncovering, assessing, and prioritizing inefficiencies and opportunities. This is critical for creating a continual optimization feedback loop.
To stay afloat in today’s macroeconomic headwinds, organizations must take a holistic approach in their pursuit of autonomous. That is, they must recognize the interdependence of these building blocks on delivering successful business outcomes, one outcome at a time.
Senior leadership agrees. According to one senior IT leader interviewed in HFS’s report:
"An autonomous organization boils down to how you integrate your business back to front and how you build automation and intelligence into the end-to-end process."
That combination of AI and automation, coupled with human-based decisioning when needed, yields big results for organizations. As HFS reports, enterprises take advantage of a variety of business benefits with an autonomous mindset, including:
- Better, more empathetic customer experiences with AI embedded in all channels
Wells Fargo Bank uses AI to drive next-best conversations with its 70 million customers. AI analyzes each customer’s actions and predicts their unique needs, feeding customer service agents suggestions in real time – from making a new product offer to lowering their fees. The bank has realized a 3 to 10X increase in customer engagement rates.
- Automated routine work allows people to do more with less
Unum, a global insurance company with customers in more than 140 countries, uses robotic process automation (RPA) to handle everyday tasks that waste too much time, such as extracting data from documents, opening and filing emails, and performing calculations. RPA saves employees more than 50,000 hours a year, allowing staff to focus their time on solving customer problems.
- Self-optimized processes that eliminate inefficiencies
Another bank uses task mining to find and fix hidden inefficiencies in its back-office operations. As a results, it’s launched 35 applications that automate hundreds of thousands of hours of tedious manual work.
As HFS reports, the journey to becoming an autonomous enterprise evolves through iteration and driving business outcomes – one step at a time. By leveraging these seven building blocks – and learning from the experiences of similar enterprises – organizations can take the strategic steps needed to ensure their success.