As part of Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series—a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories—Colin Redbond, the Global SVP for Product and Strategy at SS&C Blue Prism, explains how the C-suite can unlock the opportunities available via digital transformation initiatives.
American scholar Warren Bennis said leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. For companies hoping to scale with an automation-first culture, their C-suite needs to be all in. Although 70 percent of organizations have at least piloted automation technologies in one or more business areas, less than 20 percent have scaled automation technologies across multiple parts of the organization.
According to a McKinsey survey, many business leaders don’t know what their role in the digital transformation journey should be. This is a critical problem for organizations in an age where the productivity, convenience, and consumer and employee experience afforded by digitalization are expected.
Organizations falling behind on digitalization need to understand internal opportunities for automation, build the right work culture and instill the stewardship of an engaging leader to drive transformation. Leadership is essential to success. As Forrester put it, CEOs are the “chief champions” for digital transformation. Companies should focus on cultivating the support of all stakeholders, starting at the top.
Transformation From the Top-Down
Bottom-up digitalization tends to be haphazard, small in scope, and siloed. This prevents end-to-end intelligent automation and obstructs enterprise-wide scale. This approach will stifle an organization’s ability to achieve its key business objectives. To unleash the total value of digital transformation, human and digital workers need to be unified in a collaborative network, processes need to be re-engineered to align with the best outcomes for the business, and intelligent automation needs to be strategically deployed and scaled enterprise-wide.
It Begins with a Vision
Any successful digital transformation begins with strategy and vision, which must be cultivated by the CEO and C-suite of an organization. Do not underestimate the importance of creating visibility over the overarching strategy. Without vision, digitalization is aimless and inefficient. Leaders need to answer critical questions: Why are they automating? What need or challenge are they trying to resolve? How will intelligent automation be most impactful? What are their long-term objectives with digital transformation, and how will they impact employees?
The CEO’s influence and authority make them essential when implementing a vision across operations. With their endorsement, this vision will be reflected in workers’ behaviors and motivations, promoting success-driving innovation. Leaders must ensure that employees can buy into this dream.
It’s a Team Sport
Scaling automation is imperative for businesses to realize the full benefits of digital transformation. A collaborative, organization-wide approach should be adopted. Vested interests across operations are created by bringing the entire enterprise on the journey. While the CEO and C-suite play a pivotal role in the digitalization journey, the rest of the organization is integral to bringing the CEO’s vision to reality. Employees are building, implementing, and working with automations, making it essential that business leaders orchestrate their teams effectively and communicate the revised set of roles and responsibilities.
A federated structure will spur the adoption of automation while also mitigating risks. With this approach, a Center of Excellence (CoE) is responsible for selecting the technology vendors, establishing best practices, and providing governance. Then each business unit identifies automation champions to be accountable for driving automation within that department under the guidance of the CoE.
Employees should also be encouraged to offer insights, input, and feedback. By promoting an open and curious-driven culture that recognizes the learning opportunities from any mistakes made, innovation will increase, productivity-boosting ideas and practices will be uncovered, and an agile and collaborative workforce will unfold.
The CEO and C-suite should regularly converse with automation leaders, getting feedback and adapting their strategy and plans. Meetings with stakeholders to assess progress against predetermined key performance indicators should be held periodically. This ensures that digital transformation goals remain on track and allows any issues to be recognized and addressed. Strategy, plans, and goals remain flexible and adaptable to reflect what is best for the organization.
Upskilling Along the Way
Finding the right team members is one of the most prominent struggles organizations encounter, especially amid tech skill and talent shortages. In addition to surveying who has the existing skills and interest to join in on transformation projects, business leaders need to provide resources for reskilling or upskilling those workers with the willingness to learn and make career changes.
By sourcing workers with tangentially related skills, leaders can facilitate the development of in-house technologists from within their existing workforce. These technologists can use a comprehensive low-code or no-code intelligent automation platform equipped with advanced technologies to support digital transformation within the organization. Intelligent automation platforms allow workers to unleash the value of advanced technologies like robotic process automation and artificial intelligence. This also supports existing IT team members, enabling them to work on higher-level tasks, including governance and compliance.
Planning for the Long Run
Organizations thrive under the stewardship of an involved and visionary leader. And leading by example makes a difference. According to research featured in Harvard Business Review, change management practices like leaders modeling behaviors and involvement from CEOs, and top executives lead to the best returns.
Interconnected processes will deliver better experiences to both customers and employees at scale. Digital is not a destination; it’s an ongoing journey that demands the indefinite commitment of a determined leader. This, combined with a robust and intelligent automation partner that fits the needs of the vision, will unleash transformative value by locking in digital transformation success.