4 Process Automation Predictions for 2021

Looking for predictions on process automation?

Over the past few years, many of us have been keen on adopting intelligent tools like Alexa to make our lives easier by automating our personal tasks.  

When it comes to business, organisations have slowly been adopting innovations that create transformative efficiencies. 

As a driver of digital transformation, process automation has been one of these technologies that have taken businesses’ efficiency to the next level. By reducing repetitive and manual tasks, automated processes have allowed organisations to save considerable time and money, with some reporting savings of over 5,000 employee hours. 

In 2020, most individuals and businesses that have employed automation managed to stay afloat and face the challenges engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In 2021, experts anticipate process automation to be key in further driving operational performance and enable businesses to adapt to ever-changing environments and even thrive. 

Earlier this year, we have produced a webinar with process automation experts FlowForma to share the main predictions for the year ahead and how businesses will need to harness automation for success.

What can we expect from process automation in 2021? Let’s uncover 4 major predictions.

Prediction 1: The drive for automation will be inevitable.

2020 has dramatically changed the ways businesses are operating and employees working. With the widespread adoption of remote working since the start of the pandemic, teams have been collaborating differently. And organisations have been moving their infrastructures to an online environment and automating more business processes to remain competitive. 

In 2021, process automation will become the new normal and play a pivotal role in retaining competitiveness. Businesses will have to apply automation to all areas in order to thrive among uncertainty, enhance customer experience, supply chain management and employee experience. Automation will likewise be fundamental in allowing workers to remain productive. 

According to Forbes, 97% of executives affirmed that COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation. With an increase in cloud adoption in 2020 and 2021, decision-makers will be encouraged to implement their own process automation initiatives to drive their digitalisation efforts. A journey that will be enabled by quick, flexible and low code/no code automation solutions allowing businesses to automate at scale. 

Prediction 2: Digital transformation at more than 3 quarters of enterprises will focus on automation.

Digitalising and automating business processes has been a big driver of digital transformation. And in 2021, more organisations will seek to harness process automation and digitalise an increasing number of processes. Flexible platforms granting businesses with the ability to seamlessly automate processes and workflows will rise in popularity. By enabling staff to easily monitor and modify the processes being rolled out, these solutions will notably play a key role in ensuring safety, governance, and compliance of information (ringing especially true in a post-Brexit world). 

Low code (ie. Power Platform) and no code automation technologies like FlowForma Process Automation will enable business users from multiple disciplines to build processes quickly.  

Such no code solutions will make it easier for organisations in 2021 to start their automation journeys without the need to hire developers.

Detaining powerful analytics capabilities, users will be able to measure the efficiency of their processes and identify areas of improvement without necessarily the need for solid technical know-how.

FlowForma Process Automation, for example, stores all the data relating to the processes in use. By accessing a robust data source, users retrieve the information they need to enhance their workflows. 

The same goes for Power BI which can gather all the data from automation applications in an intuitive platform. Creating rich and interactive visualisations, the platform fosters better decision-making, ultimately boosting productivity by helping users take the right business decisions.

Prediction 3: The reduced number of broken processes will boost productivity.

In 2020, two-thirds of enterprise organisations encountered broken processes during the pandemic. This is explained by the fact paper was still part of many processes within organisations. As most employees were forced to work from home, various processes couldn’t be completed as paper couldn’t be exchanged and staff couldn’t easily interact. This resulted in inefficiencies and businesses failing to meet strategic goals. One broken process can have major consequences on business outcomes. We will let you imagine the negative impact of multiple ones! 

2021 will still see broken processes. However, more organisations will aim at making more automated processes accessible from anywhere – reducing risks. Employing a desktop or mobile app, more workers will be given the opportunity to complete their tasks with the most appropriate device. Taking this into account, better accessibility will guarantee employees use the right information, at the right time, from anywhere – minimising time searching for information and leading to more efficiencies. 

Furthermore, communication tools will empower user to generate processes together and faster by integrating automation platforms. Integrating with FlowForma Process Automation and applications from Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft Teams is a good example as it enables users to collaborate internally and externally. 

Again, low code (ie. PowerPlatform) and no code process automation platforms (FlowForma Process Automation) will be critical in 2021 to deliver these capabilities by allowing business users to quickly automate processes themselves.  

Prediction 4: Automation will advance to support 1 in 4 homeworkers.

Lastly, it is undeniable that remote working has dramatically increased during the pandemic. Automation has facilitated the home working experience with many remote workers realising homeworking and productivity can be reconciled. 

Will remote working become the norm in 2021 and beyond? Only time will tell. 

Nonetheless, with additional lockdowns and curfews around the world at the start of the year, it seems remote working will likely be part of our daily lives for some time. Besides, some studies suggest a significant number of workers will still work from home when the pandemic is over. This suggests the change driven by the pandemic is likely to stay in some ways. 

Therefore, automating for home workers will be fundamental to support staff, guarantee a good employee experience, and remain productive in 2021.  

Key takeaways for the future

While process automation technologies are relatively recent, they have demonstrated their potential to provide businesses with tangible benefits. An increasing number of organisations have been adopting low code and no code tools to automate quickly and at pace. Those who haven’t employed them yet will need to play catch up to remain competitive in a challenging environment. From improving efficiency and productivity to supporting remote workers, a lot can be achieved with automation. And 2021 is the year to embrace these technology changes.  

We're here to help

Appetite for Business has been supporting organisations and individuals with their process automation goals.  

Weve automated processes and workflows with the Microsoft Power Platform and FlowForma Process Automation applications as a Microsoft Service Adoption Specialist.

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