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Businesses need these 'three core traits' if they hope to make automation a success

Forrester claims automation can allow companies to grow 2.7 times faster than their peers, but only a minority of modern businesses meet the criteria

A senior industry analyst has said modern businesses need to embrace automation to capitalise on the next big business growth opportunity in the coming years.

Businesses are facing the next epoch of growth opportunities and are currently at the bottom of the epoch’s S-curve, said Leslie Joseph, principal analyst at Forrester. The way to capitalise on the accelerated growth opportunities is to embrace automation before industry peers, he added.

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Speaking at UiPath’s Forward 5 conference, Joseph likened modern businesses to penguins - they are all currently so similar in terms of digital maturity and the only way to stand out over the next few years is to embrace automation.

Companies are currently spending large amounts on digital technology, but improvements are stagnating, largely because every company is spending the same money on the same once-disruptive tools.

This means growth opportunities aren’t as plentiful as they once were, now that more companies are progressing through digital transformation journeys, representing the top of the previous epoch’s S-curve.

Deploying automation platforms and related technologies, like robotic process automation (RPA), will allow businesses to achieve what Forrester calls the ‘Future Fit’ characteristics required to leapfrog competitors and join the next S-curve of growth opportunities before competitors. The three Future Fit characteristics are adaptiveness, creativity, and resiliency.

Businesses must be capable of reconfiguring core business concepts flexibly for success, according to Joseph, as well as be able to engage with the emotion of every customer, and do so through their employees, and build an ‘enterprise muscle’ to be able to identify and manage risks on an ongoing basis.

According to Forrester’s research, Future Fit companies grow 2.7 times faster than their industry peers, but only a minority of modern businesses meet these criteria.

“Automation is the new fabric for digital business,” said Joseph - meaning that automation is the tool that businesses should be harnessing to meet all three of the Future Fit characteristics and set up for a path to accelerated growth.

“We're not even talking about the goalpost shifting a little bit here, we are talking about an entirely new stratification of value between the haves and the have nots,” he added. “It's a whole new world. It's not enough anymore to just be digitally mature, they have to be these three things.”

A business’ automation journey will only succeed when a number of key requirements are met, according to Joseph.

The company’s chief executives must be involved when developing automation goals and outcomes. Additionally, the value of each automation needs to be captured from a holistic perspective, like an automation platform allows a business to do, ensuring the function of each automation is aligned with the goals set in conjunction with the CEO.

“Automation is a transformational initiative across your organisation, it must be supported by your CEO,” he said. “Your CFO must set and align automation-centric outcomes that must be distributed across your business functions, so that everybody in the company is invested and is tasked with creating an atmosphere of resilience to automation.”

Transforming employees’ attitudes towards automation will also be important, and specifically reassuring staff that their jobs will remain safe, since they are most at risk from the uptake of automation.

“You need to engender trust, you need to create pathways for skills for your employees so that they can continuously see value for themselves on the automation programme,” said Joseph.

Companies also need to consider hiring their first chief automation officer to maximise stewardship over what would be a programme that transforms the company.

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