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Three strategies to help CIOs drive a culture of innovation inside their automation initiatives

3 min read
Mar 12, 2020 10:19:35 AM

The role of the modern-day enterprise CIO (Chief Innovation Officer) has evolved. Gone are the days of simply sourcing the best of the few tools available that would serve the organization’s business objectives.

CIOs today must effectively navigate the myriad of technologies available - and the ones that are coming - in a landscape that is constantly changing. They are also charged with fostering a culture that embraces technology and innovation, not just by adopting emerging technologies, but also cultivating innovation internally.

Digital automation is unquestionably the latest technology CIOs are eagerly investigating and adopting. Unsurprisingly, CIOs are the ones responsible at the C-level to drive automation in their respective organizations, ensuring that their automation initiatives are successful, scalable, and deliver the return on investment that was promised.

Here then, are the three strategies to help CIOs drive a culture of innovation to successfully scale their intelligent automation efforts across the enterprise and realize success:

#1 – Align automation with business goals and turn your enterprise executives into automation evangelists

Before any bots can be built or even business processes can be prioritized, the enterprise executives need to understand what success looks like, and how it contributes to the bottom line. Most importantly, they need to understand why they are investing in automation. Put simply—the enterprise leadership and board need to buy in.

When looking for sponsorship, CIOs need to clearly communicate the benefits and value of a digital workforce that appeal to and directly speak to the leadership group. They need to essentially highlight a personalization of the following RPA (robotic process automation) value propositions:

  • More efficient and higher quality process execution that can save thousands of hours of effort
  • Reinforced and streamlined regulatory compliance
  • Increased customer satisfaction and engagement
  • Increased bandwidth for enterprise talent to drive innovation and profit with higher-value tasks

The performance metrics a CIO tracks – like regulatory compliance, improved organizational productivity, and added business value – will then transmit the value of your automation efforts to drive further investment and establish key automation cornerstones like an automation Center of Excellence (CoE).

With executive buy-in and sponsorship, this also facilitates the establishment of an enterprise-wide strategy that comes right from the C-suite—a fundamental component needed to scale automation across the enterprise.  

#2 - Think long-term integration, long-term success

As with any technology initiative, long-term strategy is quintessential; it reinforces enterprise-wide buy-in by feeding directly into enterprise business objectives instead of being an ad-hoc venture to catch up to what everyone else in the space is doing.

Automation strategy needs to be treated as any other initiative: requirements need to be defined, priorities need to be set, and a roadmap needs to be modeled that all tie into enterprise business objectives, explicitly calling out how automation contributes to these goals.

In our blog, we’ve repeatedly and strongly encouraged the need for an automation CoE. This is a key element to a CIO’s automation strategy and execution. Establishing a CoE facilitates the quick delivery of POCs (proof of concept), pilot programs, and quick wins via low-hanging fruit that can be communicated to the rest of the organization—reinforcing automation buy-in from the top down and across the business.

In this respect, it’s important for CIOs to sharpen their focus on performance metrics.  Success must not be gauged by how many processes have been automated, but by how automation has been used to deliver business objectives like stronger regulatory compliance, increased operational efficiency, and new business value.

A long-term strategy that fosters collaboration and a shared vision across the business is also something that sets the foundation for scalability, making it easier to scale a digital workforce across the enterprise.

#3 – Empowering your talent with the skills to support automation

At the core of every automation initiative are the people—the employees defining, designing, and deploying the business processes to be automated.

How they feel about the initiative and whether they see the value in intelligent automation is a major deciding factor and influencer in the delivery of ROI and the overall success of the initiative. Here, the CIO plays a major role in clearly communicating not only why the organization is launching an automation initiative but also how automation helps and benefits them individually.

Beyond communicating the value of automation and nurturing buy-in across the workforce, CIOs also need to provide the skills training to enterprise employees to work with automation software and design and execute sustainable and effective automated processes. This provides another opportunity to communicate the personal benefit that runs in parallel with the business initiative of automating: your employees receive training to prepare them for the evolution of business and technology, making them more skilled for the future of work.

It’s also crucial to communicate the essence of automation; for example, that one of the most obvious benefits is that business processes are more efficiently and reliably executed, but another major benefit is the removal of manual, repetitive, and mechanical tasks so employees can devote their time to critical thinking and higher-value projects that continually deliver gains on key business objectives.