How Intelligent Automation Brings Instant Value to SAP Platforms
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⇨ Leveraging Intelligent Automation creates rapid end-to-end organizational efficiencies and accelerates digital transformations that are not possible with each technology acting independently.
⇨ Successfully using Intelligent Automation requires adopting a framework of controls at the outset
⇨ Securely deploying intelligent automation effective risk management entails identifying obstacles and understanding the level of real-world risk and gauging the associated hazards.
Automation has long been about increasing productivity, improving accuracy, and driving down costs. However, additional opportunities to leverage automation, especially when intelligence is integrated into the technology, has only enhanced its growing appeal.
A recent survey of technology leaders conducted by Protiviti indicates that 79% of participants have clearly defined innovation goals, indicating that business leaders are planning on adopting technologies that bring forth new opportunities. Other recent research revealed that 69% of business leaders plan to adopt intelligent automation to address issues such as spiraling costs, surging inflation, and commodity pricing challenges.
As technology evolves and automation efforts mature, the next-generation concept of Intelligent Automation has emerged. Intelligent Automation refers to the combined application of Business Process Management (BPM), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Leveraging these technologies in concert creates rapid end-to-end organizational efficiencies and accelerates digital transformations that are not possible with each technology acting independently. Each of these technologies serves a primary purpose that compliments the others when deployed to provide innovative Intelligent Automation solutions.
SAP customers recognize that the consequences created by evolving challenges, such as the threat of rising inflation and historically low unemployment, must be met quickly to avoid the disruption of workflows. Adopting intelligent automation has proven to reduce the angst associated with mitigating those challenges, while also surfacing the additional benefits offered by the technology to further drive transformation.
SAP customers drive transformation scenarios by leveraging intelligent automation in areas like data entry, process automation, and system testing. SAP customers experimenting with intelligent automation find that the path to success requires adopting a framework of controls at the outset to avoid hazards, manage risk, and achieve maximum benefit from their efforts.
Achieving real benefits
Adopting intelligent automation increases the value of SAP platforms by expediting transformation and acting as a force multiplier of individual output. Intelligent automation also introduces complete consistency in repetitive tasks and provides greater transparency in decision-making. The real-world benefits are hard to ignore as evidenced by the many use cases where combining intelligent automation with SAP systems delivers measurable benefits.
- Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) uses intelligent algorithms to analyze historical financial data, market fluctuations, and numerous other factors to improve planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes. This increases an organization’s ability to quickly identify trends and potential market changes.
- Quality assurance is further enhanced using automated testing, which can increase the speed of testing and expand the number of testing scenarios. Businesses are able to quickly validate multiple use cases of a process or device to proactively increase quality.
- Inventory management becomes a more proactive process using real-time monitoring to automatically generate purchase orders or production orders when stock levels reach a certain threshold. Businesses gain the ability to maintain optimal inventories to meet predicted needs and avoid shortages, while reducing costs and management overhead.
- Order and Invoice Processing is expedited by reducing the labor-intensive manual steps that are normally associated with such tasks. Orders are processed automatically, triggering invoice creation while also establishing the requirements to fulfill the order. Businesses and their customers benefit from expedited processing and the potential elimination of errors that are often introduced in manual systems.
- Supply chain issues and costs are reduced by using automated analysis of transportation costs along with historical analysis from numerous data points to optimize freight and other transportation services.
- Supplier relationship management is improved by streamlining processes. Tasks such as supplier onboarding, evaluations, and collaboration can be automated and improved resulting in measurable benefits, such as time savings, improved consistency, and quicker resolutions of problems or issues.
- Compliance and risk management processes benefit from automated systems that monitor regulatory changes and calculate the potential impact on operations those changes may have.
Integrating intelligent automation with SAP systems can lead to increased productivity, cost savings, enhanced data accuracy, and better decision-making. These benefits contribute to an organization’s ability to stay competitive and agile in a rapidly evolving business environment.
How to securely deploy intelligent automation effective risk management entails identifying obstacles and understanding the level of real-world risk and gauging the associated hazards. Addressing those concerns early on in the deployment process goes a long way towards advancing intelligent automation efforts and realizing benefits in a responsible manner.
Common concerns include:
- Mistake and error amplification: If the process being automated is faulty in any way, automating it will only execute a defective process consistently and repeatedly.
- Loss of control: Automated processes will execute according to original requirements, potentially ignoring change.
- Misinterpreted data: There is the potential that the data being analyzed is incorrect and can become increasingly inaccurate over time.
- Organizational complacency magnification: Insufficient security or inadequate controls can compromise the quality of data and result in inadequate output, derailing the benefits offered by intelligent automation by increasing the speed at which data is analyzed and acted upon.
The best way to address concerns is to build a framework based upon a robust internal governance structure which incorporates the right controls, along with the ability to monitor and measure intelligent automation processes. Constructing that framework requires due diligence and the appropriate expertise to define and align the processes that incorporate guardrails to address concerns and eliminate pitfalls. This may require involving compliance teams in the transformation to help define those safeguards.
Defining the core business objectives of the effort is fundamental, as is establishing goals for process improvement. Other important considerations include ensuring data quality, choosing the right solution to achieve the desired business benefits, and establishing the right deployment strategy.
Lastly, teams will want to establish key performance indicators from the beginning to measure the success of the transformation. It’s key to take a risk-based approach to controls. By prioritizing risks in this way, teams can manage risk appropriately and avoid adding excessive or over engineered controls.
SAP offers applications to support governance, risk and compliance, including SAP Access Control for security monitoring and automation of user provisioning. SAP Process Control provides a way to automate an internal control framework and monitor controls in an automated fashion. In addition, SAP Risk Management enables measurement of enterprise risks and supports incorporation of the organization’s compliance obligations, such as SOX, FDA, ESG. SAP further eases the journey into intelligent automation with technology platforms, such as SAP Build Process Automation, SAP Signavio and SAP Joule.
SAP continually enhances its intelligent automation tools and expands the number of solutions available via the company’s partner ecosystem. Recently, the company announced a partnership with UiPath which incorporates UiPath’s Business Automation Platform into the SAP platform. The partnership introduces the capability to accelerate digital transformation by introducing automation into manually intensive processes.
Businesses adopting intelligent automation technologies are uncovering numerous benefits that range from cost savings to enhanced efficiencies to improved decision-making. A wide variety of processes can be improved with the technology, especially for SAP customers. SAP’s numerous tools and partner ecosystem offer the quickest path forward to achieve the benefits that have been outlined above.
However, embracing the technology to drive transformational efforts does take careful planning and expertise to ensure that those benefits are quickly realized, without increasing risk. Ultimately, the integration of intelligent automation will help businesses achieve once unheard-of efficiencies while also reducing errors and the need for manual processes. For SAP customers, the time is now to further investigate the technology and discover what SAP and its ecosystem can deliver to increase competitiveness and meet the needs of an ever-changing business environment.