The Economics of Automation: Why automation is the key to growth in a challenging economy, and how to invest in the right automation solution
In the face of mounting economic, geopolitical, and workforce challenges, businesses are under tremendous pressure to implement strategies that protect margins and sustain growth. As a result, processes improvement and process automation have emerged as top priorities and investment areas for businesses in 2022. In fact, Gartner found that executives ranked back office operations automation as the #1 Digital Investment to improve efficiency. And 52% of executives polled by Grant Thornton reported plans to increase spend on automation in the next 12 months, while 41% reported maintaining existing spend. However, in the current market environment, businesses must be extra diligent when choosing IT vendors and partners.
How process improvement and automation can help tackle some of the most pressing economic challenges facing businesses today
In Deloitte’s Summer 2022 CEO survey, inflation was the #1 anticipated business strategy influencer in the next 12 months, cited by 82% of CEOs. In 2022, economies globally have experienced the highest inflation increases seen in decades.
However, companies are recognizing that passing along cost increases to the consumer through continued price raises is not sustainable. A May 2022 Gartner survey showed that the percent of CFO’s planning to continue price increases in Q42022 if inflation persists decreased by over half to 25%, compared to 54% in Q22022. Instead, companies are turning to automation (24%) to create sustainable efficiencies and are also looking to expand cost-cutting initiatives (39%).
Rather than taking a blanket approach to cost-cutting which only solves short-term challenges, executives are realizing that evaluating and refining processes is a crucial element towards long-term growth, with 84% of CFO’s reporting they are planning to leverage process transformation as a financial mitigation strategy.
In Deloitte’s Summer 2022 CEO survey, labor/skill shortage was the #2 most anticipated business strategy influencer in the next 12 months, reported by 59% of CEOs.
In the short-term, companies must compensate for operational gaps that exist from a lack of resources, and process improvement and automation are integral components to having a successful strategy to accomplish this. An August 2022 PWC executive survey showed that nearly 2 out of 3 businesses report having changed or are planning to change processes to address labor shortages, an increase from 56% in January 2022. Additionally, 58% of executives plan to use automation to offset labor shortages.
However, to address labor shortages in the long-term, companies must transform the employee experience to improve acquisition and retention. Companies can leverage process improvement and automation to combat employee turnover. A 2021 Nintex study found that 52% of respondents would leave their organization within 12-18 months for another organization in the same industry if the new organization made it easier to get work done and had fewer manual processes. By streamlining and automating redundant, time-consuming processes, businesses can not only improve efficiency and decrease costs, but can also allow employees to spend more time on high-value activities, which creates higher job satisfaction and propels business growth.
Additionally, offering hybrid and remote working arrangements has emerged as a top talent acquisition and retention tactic. With this comes a critical need for businesses to re-scope, redefine, and optimize their business processes to suit their new operating environment. Accessible and agile process governance and management is key to maintaining efficiency and scale across geographically dispersed teams.
Top considerations when selecting an automation vendor: citizen developers are key to achieving an automation economy of scale
In today’s global economic environment, companies must be agile and adaptable to market disruptions. Companies must also be able to achieve greater scale with fewer resources. Leveraging citizen developers in automation and transformation initiatives will be critical to agility and scale. Citizen developers are employees with technical acumen or inclination that work directly in a line of business, but who likely do not have coding or professional developer skills.
See how the City of Garland, TX built a community of citizen developers and saved $4M
A recent automation vendor report by Provoke outlined four (4) key criteria buyers should consider when choosing an automation solution, all of which tie back to the ability to leverage citizen developers:
1. Resources and Skillsets Required
The level of technical skills required to implement the solutions required by your business and use cases is an important consideration. Professional developer resources are often scarce and stretched across many competing projects. Tools built to enable wide citizen developer adoption will enable faster time to value and broader scalability. An added benefit of leveraging citizen developers is that coming from the line of business, they often have stronger knowledge of the processes and business itself, which is critical to building successful automations.
Organizations should evaluate the time and effort required to build automations because the faster an automation project is deployed, the sooner the business will realize benefits and an ROI on their investment. Time-to-value is also an important way to assess scalability. The less time and effort an automation takes to build and deploy, the more automation projects you can complete within a fixed period.
3. Tool Complexity
Ease of use directly correlates with efficiency and faster time to value. Having simple, built-in functionality to handle complex configurations, such as third-party integrations, means companies can do more faster and with fewer resources, but without sacrificing the capabilities needed to solve their business challenges.
Along with these criteria, buyers should be sure to evaluate vendors based on both short-term and forward-looking business objectives. Choosing a partner that offers end-to-end process intelligence, management, governance, automation, and continuous improvement solutions will ensure businesses get the most out of their investment now while providing a path to long-term enterprise-wide transformation.
Nintex’s end-to-end solutions empower citizen developers to drive transformation at scale, faster
In their recent study, Provoke found that non-developer business users were able to create automations up to 50% faster with Nintex than with Microsoft Power Automate.
Provoke attributed this accelerated time-to-value to Nintex’s intuitive drag-and-drop functionality, seamless connectors and integrations, and user-friendly interface. 50% faster means businesses can scale their automation initiatives in less time, and with fewer and less technical resources. To learn more, check out a 2-minute video highlighting the study here.
Nintex’s end-to-end ecosystem of low code/no code process intelligence, management, and automation solutions are user-friendly enough for businesses to quickly tackle immediate challenges, such as offsetting labor shortages and managing inflation, and powerful enough to drive long-term transformation to support new work environments and create exceptional employee and customer experiences.
Interested in learning more about how to choose the right automation vendor for your organization? Request a live demo of the Nintex Process Platform to see if it is right for you.