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How Digitalization Impacts Workflow Automation

How Digitalization Impacts Workflow Automation by David Bevans

Digital transformation has been a top priority for companies in recent years, but now many businesses are taking a closer look at the actively evolving concept of digitalization. Although the two terms sound much the same, they actually mean slightly different things and impact businesses and their workflows in different ways.

With that in mind, here’s a brief introduction to digital transformation and digitalization along with a look at how digitalizing can impact workflow automation for organizations.

Moving beyond Digital Transformation

According to global research and advisory firm Gartner, digital transformation is a broad term that can encompass anything “from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models.” Some organizations, particularly smaller ones, will use the term “digital transformation” to describe the process of modernizing or digitizing specific business processes. A digitally mature business, on the other hand, might focus its digital transformation efforts on becoming more agile or quickly adapting to changes in the market.

“Digitalization” is sometimes used interchangeably with digital transformation, but the two concepts are slightly different from one another. According to Gartner, digitalization is “the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.” Organizations that choose to digitalize additional aspects of their business will likely find that doing so presents an opportunity to digitize systems and capitalize on those digitized systems and workflows that already support their operations.

The pandemic dramatically accelerated digitalization in 2020, causing organizations to quickly pivot, adapt, and scale their operations to ensure business continuity during a year of unprecedented global disruption. As businesses rushed to digitalize, they turned to automation to accelerate their transformation.

How Automation Complements Digitalization

Automation and digitalization are closely linked. A business that seeks to digitalize can leverage automation to update job roles and transform entire business processes from end to end. Companies increasingly need to do this because, while early technology improvements saved employees time in their daily work, the amount of rote administrative tasks now required to do the work often undermines productivity. For example, according to a global study, the average employee loses 60 hours per month to easily automatable tasks, such as data entry and file organization.

Businesses that implement end-to-end process automation can free their employees from the tedium of tending to these administrative duties each day, enabling them to refocus their unique expertise and talents on projects that they find engaging and that the company finds strategically advantageous. In fact, the aforementioned study found that employees believed automation would help them focus more on their core job function, increase departmental productivity, and open up opportunities to learn new skills.

Digitalization can provide stacking benefits, especially when a business uses the time saved from a successful automation project to automate even more processes and functions throughout the company. By doing so, businesses can steadily create even more organizational capacity to innovate and evolve.

Successful Digitalization Requires Flexible Automation

To digitalize your business successfully, you must use an agile automation method that’s capable of adapting to changes in the environment. Some businesses have used robotic process automation (RPA) to create bots that can autonomously fill out forms or transfer information between siloed applications, streamlining rote tasks for their employees in the process. These bots can and do win back precious time for individual employees, allowing them to focus on more rewarding work.

However, RPA has some limitations. It can only take on individual tasks, and it can’t automate an end-to-end process across an enterprise. It’s also not flexible enough to adapt when the user interface of a particular application changes, and it requires some ongoing administrative attention from IT, which may partially negate the purpose of the automation in the first place.

Low-code process automation can come in handy in these sorts of situations, enabling a company not only to replicate a fixed series of steps but also to re-envision an entire business process using a digital-first perspective.

Companies use low-code process automation to automate specific tasks, end-to-end processes across the enterprise, and even complex workflows. Because it’s accessible to technical and non-technical staff alike, low-code process automation also empowers more staff throughout an organization to collaborate on workflow automation solutions that benefit their teams and the company as a whole. As Forbes points out, low-code automation has tremendous significance for businesses that urgently need to digitalize at a moment when talented software engineers are in short supply. Organizations that want to digitalize can use an all-in-one low-code platform to automate end-to-end business processes, increase operational gains, modernize their core systems, enhance customer engagement, and drive organizational agility.

Digitalize through Automation and Transform Your Business

Although digital transformation has been a buzzword for quite some time, many businesses are currently turning to digitalization to evolve their processes and workflows. By digitalizing, a company can move beyond simply modernizing specific technologies or tasks and even update its business model or identify new opportunities for growth. When a business digitalizes using low-code process automation that facilitates internal collaboration and enables a digital-first perspective, it can increase its capacity for innovation and gain a competitive edge in the digital age.