“The time and creativity of your people are the two most valuable resources in the current climate,” says Ivan Yamschikov, AI Evangelist at ABBYY, in an exclusive interview with Enterprise Talk.

Describe the levels of digital transformation that CIOs need to survive in the current climate?

There is no specific level that is a “silver bullet.” In the current climate, a lot depends on an organization’s industry, structure, workforce size, agility, and overall strategy. However, across industries, there are a few strategies that are key for accelerating digital transformation and surviving – even thriving – amid these unprecedented circumstances. The first is that companies that leverage digital business models and provide customers with convenient digital access to their services and products have a leg up on the competition.

For example, let’s say you do not use any form or minimal IT solutions in your business. That means during the current climate, with self-isolation and work-from-home basically being ubiquitous, your business primarily comes to a full stop.

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However, if you are in the first stages of digital transformation, you can get by. You’ve probably digitized documents and automated some processes that enable you to have the option to organize remote work for your employees. Digitizing content is a crucial component of subsequent stages of digital transformation and enables business continuity. The current crisis has demonstrated that being flexible, agile, and able to operate in both a physical and digital environment seamlessly is critical.

How can those that are behind play catch up?

There might be a tendency for organizations behind in their automation efforts to make knee-jerk decisions during an emergency. This often results in projects being selected based on opinion or bias and are frequently not chosen based on data. Organizations can play catch up and choose the right projects that will yield the most benefits by leveraging more advanced process mining tools that support data-driven decision making with a comprehensive view into how business processes are truly performing. If you thought that a hierarchical management structure is enough to manage your employees successfully, think again. If you thought that digital product offerings are just a cherry on top of your primary business, think again. These are times that demand flexibility, innovation, and empowerment of your employees.

How can leaders that are ahead of the curve stay in front and monitor employees’ productivity and performance at home?

One critical strategy for building a productive remote workforce is to ensure that employees feel empowered to focus on work that delivers value to the company rather than remedial tasks. Routine eats time and creative thinking from your team. The time and creativity of your people are the two most valuable resources in the current climate. Leaders should automate the cumbersome, repetitive, and time-consuming administrative tasks to free up valuable employee resources that could be better spent on tasks that are more engaging and ultimately drive business growth. In the current climate, automation is becoming critical, which is why more companies are integrating content intelligence skills with robotic process automation (RPA) digital workers to empower employees will new digital tools and higher-value work.

Furthermore, leaders need to trust their employees. Providing employees with new digital tools goes hand-in-hand with empowering them to be more engaged and productive in their roles and eliminates the need to monitor or micro-manage their performance. As a result, you build greater trust and morale across the organization.

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To stay ahead of the curve, organizations need better solutions to analyze their business. Process intelligence provides actionable data from all operational and customer-facing processes, across diverse technology systems and silos, and generates a clear picture of how your business is running without monitoring every employee’s keystroke. Orwellian dystopia is the last thing you want to create in your organization right now. It also goes a long way in helping employees feel more motivated and productive in their roles, which is especially critical as many employees are adjusting to new workplace dynamics and structure while working remotely.

Explain how the level of investment in automation is directly linked to an organization’s ability to survive the pandemic?

While people are good at adapting to new unpredictable circumstances and at finding and exploring new opportunities, machines are good at repetitive, mundane tasks. Every dollar invested in automation restructures your company in a way that maximizes everyone’s potential. If you can automate it, then there’s a chance that people were likely not that good at it, to begin with.

Automating the right workflows not only frees up employees to focus on more engaging and creative tasks, but it also enhances the accuracy of the functions that are being automated. It’s a win-win for businesses and employees. Additionally, automation typically enhances the accuracy and efficiency of a given task and showcases the synergy of human-machine collaboration.

How should companies assess where they stand in the overall picture of full and efficient automation?

The best place to start when assessing automation opportunities is to evaluate your processes. Identifying your business workflows across every team, department, channel, and location, and accurately pinpointing where the inefficiencies are is a critical first step in successful automation. After all, automating a bad process doesn’t fix the process; it just makes it worse. However, it’s challenging to ascertain which procedures are “good” and “bad” – or, in other words, which ones are operating as intended – without having a 360-view into all business-critical processes. Some organizations try to achieve this process knowledge by conducting manual process evaluations or by leveraging standalone systems, such as business intelligence, which provide data that is specific to only one component of their operations.

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The key to successful automation initiatives is found within accurate and in-depth process intelligence that will be indispensable for identifying scalable automation initiatives.

With a process intelligence platform, it is easy for leaders to see which processes are working as intended and which ones are deviating from the ideal path. This type of data enables automation leaders to fix processes before they are automated, ensuring a much smoother deployment and paving the way for implementing automation at scale.

How can companies be resilient in the future, discover where processes are broken and enable employees to be empowered and self-responsible?

Without adopting the right tools, it’s difficult to understand how business processes are performing end-to-end. Companies can be more resilient in the future by raising their Digital IQ. This means attaining an in-depth understanding of how their business processes operate in addition to understanding the content and data that circulates in their operational workflows. Processes and content are key.

Process intelligence technologies discover, identify, and monitor workflows, enabling improved efficiencies across the entire enterprise. Content intelligence technologies help organizations derive higher value from the data that already exists in the enterprise by accurately digitizing, processing, and validating data, then feeding this data into other systems such as RPA and BPA, enabling high-value automation opportunities. This combination of content and process knowledge allows organizations to raise their Digital IQ, making them better positioned to accelerate digital transformation in the enterprise and rise above the competition in their respective markets.

Ivan Yamschikov is an AI Evangelist at ABBYY, a Digital Intelligence company, and an avid researcher in the areas of technology management and adoption in business. His interests include a broad range of issues related to data-driven products, artificial neural networks, and general artificial intelligence. He has had a number of high profile speaking engagements and panel discussions at various technology conferences and received a Doctorate in Natural Sciences (Ph.D.) and MSc in Mathematical Physics.