Propelling the Automation Agenda

Have an Automation Challenge?

The following report draws on the results of a North Highland-sponsored survey conducted in April 2018. The survey identified the emerging trends in automation, along with the tactics and techniques driving the greatest ROI. This report utilizes those insights to spotlight opportunities for leaders to design and deploy an automation strategy that can scale with optimal C-suite support, maximum momentum, and centralized management.

Survey Participants

Technology & Digital More than 300 director-level and above employees with leadership responsibilities in technology/digital categories at global companies with revenues in excess of $1/£1 billion were surveyed in April 2018.

Key Takeaways

The problem: Our research shows that the greatest obstacles to digitization, of which automation is a key enabling technology, are 1) funding, 2) lack of cross-department cooperation, 3) siloed efforts without organization-wide perspective, and 4) ownership struggles. Moreover, decisionmakers are shown to place greater value in automation efforts that are externally focused on the customer. Yet automation today is most commonly targeted at internal, back-office efforts around 1) cost management, 2) streamlined business processes, and 3) employee error reduction.

The analysis: Automation’s greatest obstacles are more easily overcome with C-suite support and buy-in. Automation leaders need a prioritization framework for balancing automation opportunities with enterprise realities to find the projects most likely to interest the C-suite, demonstrate small wins, and allow an automation agenda to scale.

The solution: Automation leaders must prioritize projects that a) directly impact business objectives, b) blend data readiness, well-defined business rules, measurability, and the potential for culture impact, and c) match—then gently challenge—the enterprise’s automation maturity. Then they must advocate for an automation Center of Excellence (CoE) to holistically manage— and capitalize—on the opportunity of automation.