Long before the upheaval of the COVID crisis, digital transformation was a fast-emerging critical need for brands and businesses to embrace—but in the “new normal,” new research from intelligent process automation firm K2 finds that transformation could be a sink-or-swim necessity when it comes to business continuity.
The firm’s latest report, Accelerating Automation: How Businesses are Adapting to a Post-COVID World, in conjunction with Harris Poll, reveals how business leaders are adapting to COVID-19, how they are preparing for continuity in the future, and the value of automation technology to meet customer expectations.
“Even before COVID-19, companies recognized the need to accelerate the pace of digital transformation. The impact of the pandemic has made it even more challenging as we are seeing close to fifty-percent of companies still using manual and paper-based processes, which puts them at a competitive disadvantage,” said Carlos Carvajal, chief marketing officer at K2, in a news release. “In this new work environment, there is a renewed sense of urgency for companies to accelerate the automation of their business processes to drive operational efficiency and improve their customer experience.”
According to the survey results, 92 percent of business leaders agree that to survive and flourish, companies must enable digital channels and process automation in the workplace. Across industries and countries, it is clear that process automation and digitization are viewed as critical to long-term organizational success. However, it is equally apparent that achieving the desired end state is no easy task. Eighty-six percent of businesses say they face one or more key barriers to process automation. The complexity of process automation is the top challenge. However, limited budgets are also a common roadblock.
Top COVID-19 related priorities and business preparedness:
The impact of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken most businesses to their core – forcing a complete departure from ‘status quo’. Businesses are prioritizing the development of new, automated processes to address COVID-19 realities, but only seven percent are prepared to deal with the breadth of issues COVID-19 brings. The survey also found that:
- 80 percent of businesses are facing new challenges related to COVID-19
- 60 percent need to develop new processes to address COVID realities
- 59 percent are having challenges maintaining operational efficiencies in a distributed environment and enabling remote employees
The disconnect between C-suite and their directs
C-level executives and their teams agree on the top COVID-driven priorities but disagree in many cases about how prepared companies are to actually address new process needs. For example, 53 percent of C-level execs believe their companies are very prepared for outbreak response planning versus only 40 percent of lower-level leaders. A similar disconnect is seen for many other COVID needs, such as safety equipment and resource tracking, employee self-screening and visitor screening.
Adoption of automation
Many organizations are still in very early stages of process automation and still rely heavily on manual processes. On average, only about half (51 percent) of business processes are automated. However, businesses are expecting to significantly increase the number of processes that are digitized or automated over the next 12 months.
- Across regions, only 1 in 5 are embracing process automation in its most advanced forms, and nearly 1 in 10 are at the beginning, having only taken initial steps toward automation.
- Businesses in the United States are further along the adoption curve than are those in the United Kingdom and Germany.
- And in all countries, enterprise organizations (1000+ employees) have embraced more sophisticated forms of automation than their mid-market (250-999 employees) counterparts.
Automation is key to customer satisfaction
Thirty-six percent of companies across regions are having difficulty meeting customer satisfaction goals. Nearly all of those companies (92 percent) acknowledge that effective use of process automation and digital transformational is key to addressing this aspect of their business.
This research was conducted online in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany by The Harris Poll from May 22–May 30, 2020 among Business Leaders (VP, SVP or C-level roles) within organizations of 250+ employees and who have decision making authority as it relates to automating business processes.