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Clearing the confusion around digital process transformation

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While automation is an integral component of digital transformation, the plethora of automation tools available out there can be extremely confusing for organisations wanting to embark on a digital transformation process.

The 2018 Forrester Analytics Global Business and Technology Services Survey found that two-thirds of global service organisations were engaged in digital transformation, with 16% claiming to have already completed the process.

In the recently released “RPA, DPA. BPM, and DCM Platforms: The Differences You Need to Know”, Forrester’s lead author Craig Le Clair noted that automation technologies will take centre stage in these transformation programmes.

Rajeev Mishra, process automation offering lead at Johannesburg-based systems integration and business process specialist, Ovations, agrees with Forrester’s assertion that it is important for organisations to take a holistic view of what they are hoping to achieve, before deciding on which automation approach to take.

This is not always easy, as enterprise architects are having to choose from a confusing range of process automation options as a foundation for the transformation journey. There’s robotic process automation (RPA); business process management (BPM) suites, which Forrester now calls digital process automation (DPA) – which itself is subdivided into two categories: DPA-deep and DPA-wide; and dynamic case management (DCM). According to Forrester, they all approach automation differently, yet have complementary areas.

“BPM goes after deep, complex processes; DPA takes a lighter, viral approach with a customer journey perspective; RPA ignores both deep processes and the customer and digs into tactical efficiency,” Le Clair explains, and adds that the differences go even further:

  • DPA-deep “aims to transform and improve business process”
  • DPA-wide “is designed or the masses”
  • RPA “is the ultimate low-touch approach for process improvement”
  • DCM “provides human flexibility”

While DPA-deep, DCM and DPA-wide have their roots in the early workflow products that first digitised and managed paper-based use cases, RPA’s roots are different. “They stem from desktop technologies that built macros and used screen scraping and light automation. These origins have led to differences in managing processes,” Le Clair adds.

However, Mishra maintains that organisations should not get too hung up on the labels applied to the different options.

“Organisations need to know where they want to deploy what: for example, Forrester recommends that RPA should be looked at as a tactical solution, and BPM more as a long-term strategic one. However, because of the way the market is shaping up, RPAs are going to be absorbed into the BPM toolset. We are already seeing BPM vendors forming close partnerships with RPA providers. In the future, the best DPA/BPM suites will include both a RPA and a DCM component – and, eventually, even an artificial intelligence component as well,” he says.

“In the meantime, it is important that organisations choose the right solution for their current needs. Ovations believes the best way to deal with digital transformation – which largely involves redesigning or aligning processes – is to establish a process automation centre of excellence. All new technologies and approaches which focus on operational efficiency should be brought into this centre as it is best placed to take a holistic view of what the best tactical solutions are to meet immediate goals, as well as to create a roadmap to the achievement of future goals.”

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