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What is DPA?

Nolan Greene and Anthony Abdulla, Log in to subscribe to the Blog

A brief lesson in business process history

Think about the ways business has evolved since the 1980s and ‘90s – manual paper work, spreadsheets, Word docs, faxing, IVR, internet-based transactions, wireless channels. To manage work performed through new channels and technologies in a controllable and auditable way, organizations looked to Business Process Management (BPM). A customer’s case (setting up a new account, tracking a dispute, etc.), which was once a file folder filled with papers, became electronic documents stored in a database. Workflow was no longer just assigned, it was now modeled, modified, and trackable.

However, technology continues to innovate, and keeping pace with this change means constantly delivering new front-end customer experiences. This has resulted in the rapid evolution and adoption of new digital tools in the form of robotic automation, natural language recognition, low-code, predictive analytics, AI, and decisioning … and the list goes on. But lost in all the hype is the need to integrate and maintain business-critical back-end systems, too. As a result, new standalone investments have further siloed operations and fractured enterprise architectures – making the complex processes that are the backbone of a business increasingly more complex and leaving organizations to seek better ways to connect the promise of new technologies with their existing BPM, case management, and legacy systems.

For real digital transformation, organizations need to connect and manage the technology within their overall enterprise architecture to orchestrate complex processes and, ultimately, optimize outcomes. A digital process automation (DPA) approach provides a structure to do this. DPA allows enterprises to manage and operationalize a multitude of new digital channels, IoT devices, integrations, low-code and Agile tools, robotic automations, and AI from end to end.

DPA is not another name for BPM, and it’s more than RPA – DPA is an end-to-end strategy for digital transformation

DPA is different from traditional BPM in that it’s not a standalone technology. Rather, DPA is an approach to enterprise architectural design that supports all of the functions of traditional BPM – workflow, process modeling, business rules, case management, and document support – and also orchestrates a myriad of components for agile development, guardrails, governance, robotic automation, data integration, legacy systems, human tasks, self-service platforms, application integrations, text analytics, AI, and IoT devices.

Though DPA supports robotic automation, it entails so much more. Robotic process automation (RPA) is good for automating tasks, whether on a worker’s desktop or running in the background. But as most bots operate on custom-built logic and lack centralized rules management and orchestration capabilities, RPA alone is not good for automating complex processes.

Unlike BPM and robotics, which automate existing processes, DPA enables enterprise-wide digital transformation. It helps break down organizational silos, improving the customer and employee experience; it also supports agile processes, and provides end-to-end automation to support the needs of customers and employees in the digital world.

DPA requires a Design Thinking approach

Instead of starting from a viewpoint of “What can we automate?” success in DPA requires a “What is the desired outcome?” state of mind. Transitioning to an enterprise DPA strategy begins with a holistic view of all the interconnected processes required to deliver customer-centric service and streamline worker tasks.

Design thinking starts with the impact of process on customer and employee experiences and uses rapid prototypes and testing to rebuild those experiences. When applied to automation, this means moving beyond bots to merely speed up a process step involving a manual task; instead, a design thinking approach reimagines the process from start to finish with the outcome at the heart of its design.

The goal is to automate outcomes

Organizations today run dozens (even hundreds) of apps that are maintained by business users and integrated into one or more systems. They support self-service user interfaces. They provide guidance for decision making. They enable low-code application development and maintenance. The ultimate goal of using DPA is to orchestrate all of your data, channels, processes, bots, rules, and decisions to deliver the frictionless experiences your customers demand at the efficiency you need.

This is why case management capabilities are an essential part of a DPA strategy. A case management-based approach starts with outcomes and then works backward to stage the processes, tasks, and decisions required to achieve each outcome. Rules for planned and unplanned work are built into the system and can be modified to accommodate new technologies, processes, or outcomes. Plus, the entire journey is managed from end to end, using machine learning and AI for continuous improvement and optimization.

DPA helps deliver frictionless experiences

When it comes to delivering an omni-channel experience, you don’t have to make a trade-off between form and function. Adding new channels does not need to result in another integration project, tech silo, or dead-end for your customer. The right DPA platform enables organizations to create consumer-grade experiences at every digital point of engagement while directly connecting them to the end-to-end processes that drive work across the enterprise.

Transitioning to a DPA strategy can help organizations break down traditional barriers by providing greater enterprise-wide visibility into processes and initiatives. DPA fosters collaboration between business and IT, improves customer-centricity, makes legacy technology more agile and user-friendly, and provides end-to-end automation to support the needs of customers and employees in the digital world.

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Industry: Cross-Industry Product Area: Platform Topic: Digital Transformation

About the Author

As Senior Manager of Product Marketing for Robotic Automation at Pega, Nolan Greene helps our clients create new opportunities for intelligent automation and digital transformation.

Anthony Abdulla (@AnthonyAbdulla), director of product marketing for application development, mobility & UX at Pega, helps clients improve customer engagement and operational efficiencies through digital transformation.

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