When we first started Bizagi in 2002, we described our software as a process automation solution.
Very often however, potential customers would say, “We trust our people, so we don’t want to automate our processes.” As a result, we started referring to our technology as a process digitization solution, which actually better described our platform back then.
At the time, people were essentially opposed to the idea of eliminating people from the processes. They simply wanted to make their people more efficient and effective.
Jump ahead to 2012 and we saw the dawn of the digital transformation imperative, driven by disruptive customer experiences that new companies such as Uber started delivering to the market.
These experiences were only ubiquitously available due to the incredible rise of mobile phones, which for this first time enabled experiences tailored to the context of the individual.
Perhaps more surreptitiously, there was a shift to the requirement for instantaneous feedback. Customers no longer had to wait for months, weeks, or days. Now not even hours are acceptable as a timescale for people to know if they would get their product or service.
New credit card application? Approved or rejected immediately. Online purchase? One-click, tracked delivered to my door in a day. Easily accessible and up to date bank, pension, insurance statements? These are all the new normal.
Incumbent companies in every industry were left to look from the side-lines wondering how these new players were able to change so much in such a short space of time.
It wasn’t long before these incumbent companies realized that their business processes and underlying systems had to evolve for them to be able to compete.
This was – and still is – extremely difficult for many different reasons, not least because those business processes were running in rigid legacy systems that are very hard to change.
How do you deliver the instantaneous nature of the experience when your organization is based on business processes, which, by definition, are a series of steps that happen at different moments in time?
To reconcile this apparent paradox, I can share with you what we saw happening at our customers around the world.
Their first use of our technology was to digitize the existing processes, and by that, I mean to create a process application that would combine manual and system activities to deliver the product and service.
Many times, this process would be modified to make it much more customer centric while also guaranteeing consistency through multiple channels. By doing this we often saw, and still see, reductions in service levels from weeks to days or even hours. It’s not enough though, to compete with the Fintechs that create your new bank account in just 20 minutes, despite the fact it is a highly regulated process.
Driven by this alarming competition, our more advanced customers moved to the next phase: analyzing every single manual activity and evaluating if it could be:
1. Eliminated – “this is actually not necessary anymore”
2. Postponed – “perhaps we can approve the insurance policy and if later additional manual checks detect something wrong, we simply cancel it?”
3. Automated – “we can build the logic so a person doesn’t need to touch this”
Bingo. By eliminating, postponing and automating, a complex business process becomes an instantaneous transaction – one that can meet your customers’ expectations. This is why at the heart of digital transformation, every organization needs process digitization and automation.
The solution required to deliver this across an enterprise is an intelligent information conveyor belt (that works in conjunction with your legacy systems and can be easily re-configured). When you combine the emerging software robot or digital worker with the information conveyor belt, an automated assembly line is created that digitizes organizational processes.
Now add artificial intelligence on top of the process (which knows both context and intent) and you have the most disruptive vortex of new technologies. This is creating the equivalent of an industrial revolution but on a much larger scale, with the impact happening much, much faster, as it is not slowed down by the limitations of the physical world.
Welcome to the age of intelligent automation.
I can’t help but to dedicate the last few words on this short article to the huge social implications that this will have, and the unprecedented speed at which these changes will occur.
If managed properly we will enter an era of incredible prosperity that can eradicate poverty and deliver a sustainable world for future generations. If not, we could, in my mind, soon be witness to a time of social turmoil on a scale that will not resemble anything we have ever seen before, and in this former statement I am including the industrial revolution.
Fortunately, I am a technologist and not a politician.