Automation is at the heart of digital transformation-enabled productivity, and the main reason most businesses are anxious to deploy AI company-wide is to realize the tech’s promise of enhanced efficiency and cost savings. New research from data integrity firm Precisely highlights the important role of automation in achieving success. More than half (55 percent) of business leaders surveyed rated automation of processes and associated SAP data as being important or very important to their transformation initiatives.
But despite business leaders clearly recognizing the value of automation, levels of adoption remain low, according to the firm’s 2023 State of SAP Automation Report, in collaboration with the Americas SAP Users Group (ASUG). The research revealed that 95 percent of organizations surveyed report only low to medium adoption of automation across their business. In fact, 35 percent of these respondents admitted that very few processes are currently automated, with a further 13 percent revealing no automation has yet been implemented at all, despite plans in place to do so.
Demand for automation increases, but obstacles remain
The findings may seem surprising as attention on automation, and in particular hyper automation, continues to grow in the market, heavily driven by explosive growth in AI and machine learning (ML) innovation. Gartner estimates that by 2026, businesses around the globe will have invested over a trillion dollars in hyper automation, with process automation specifically growing by 12 percent each year.
Key obstacles to automation success
Half (50 percent) of survey respondents cite complexity of business processes as their main challenge to adopting process automation, with complicated, data-intensive processes involving multiple users the least likely to be automated. They also point to challenges with data complexity, with 58 percent reporting that concerns with master data maintenance and governance are preventing process optimization at their company. Additionally, 61 percent cited competing business priorities as the most significant barrier to automation. But the research shows that those who have already automated at least some of their SAP processes and data see great rewards.
“Automation drives efficiency at scale,” said a spokesperson for ASUG Research, in a news release. “It’s encouraging to see the results that organizations report when they successfully implement automation, with 74 percent saying it delivers efficiency, and the same percentage saying that it reduces manual or lower-level work.”
Trusted data holds the key to digital transformation success
Due to the critical nature of SAP master data and the complexity of master data records, automating maintenance processes can often be challenging. Many companies focus on initial data quality; however, data errors are easily introduced during later updates—particularly when the organization lacks a robust strategy for ensuring data integrity.
“By eliminating manual data creation and management processes, companies can improve speed, agility, and crucially, the integrity of their data,” said John Reda, senior vice president of product management at Precisely, in the release. “To achieve successful digital transformation, organizations must first take steps toward delivery of trusted data to their business through fully governed automation solutions.”