Herman Singh, founder and CEO of Future Advisory.

Herman Singh, founder and CEO of Future Advisory.

Cost advantages of automation are a given, but there are also strategic benefits such as speed of execution, no batching of work, consistency of performance, ease of audit trails and compliance.

So says Herman Singh, founder and CEO of Future Advisory, who will deliver a keynote address at ITWeb BPM and Automation Summit 2019, to be held on 9 April, at The Forum in Bryanston.

Another major benefit is the impact on customer experience: the ability to customise offerings and service delivery to the individual client.

However, there is a down side to automation too, he says. "An excessive focus on hi-tech versus hi-touch is that although fulfilment is improved, the ability to up-sell and cross-sell can be reduced."

In addition, engagement and customer relationships could be diluted. "A further issue is that the system is exposed to IT reliability issues, and of course, is less flexible should business rules change."

The impact of business process automation (BPA) on jobs need not be all threatening.

"Pure transactional jobs are definitely under threat but the upside is that new roles will be created in customer experience management, DevOps, business analytics and partner management," says Singh.

"A great focus will be needed on extracting insights and data analytics. So it will result in more higher-skilled jobs created, and fewer lower skilled jobs needed."

Moreover, a BPM journey is not without points of failure to avoid. A key rule is to first simplify and systemise before automating, otherwise the business could end up doing the wrong things faster, he explains.

"It's important to remove non-value-adding activities and add new enhanced features and services prior to automating. For example, simply implementing an ERP package can be dangerous as it can be a major project to customise an ERP platform. A happy medium is sought."

Delegates attending Singh's talk will learn key lessons around the areas of analysis, design, build and operate for BPA.

"This is not a new phenomenon," he concludes. "We have been automating for centuries, so change management will be a key learning point. Finally, although IT plays a big role here, the hard stuff will be the soft stuff, such as how people issues often dictate success."