Business process automation, or BPA, is one of the more exciting movements in the business world. BPA promises greater efficiency, better output, lower costs, and all of the other secondary benefits that go along with these.
But until technology catches up, things will continue to lag behind. So the question is, what’s in store for 2022?
What is Business Process Automation?
As the business world becomes more technologically advanced, so do the tasks and processes that growing organizations use to remain competitive in the marketplace.
According to Laserfiche, “Business process automation (BPA) is the use of technology to automate repeatable, day-to-day tasks. It accelerates how work gets done by routing information to the right person at the right time through user-defined rules and actions. As a result, BPA helps organizations streamline processes such as employee onboarding, accounts payable, contract management and more.”
For a process to be “qualified” for BPA, it needs to meet certain criteria and factors. For example:
- The process should require consistency throughout the organization.
- It should be repeatable.
- The process should be somewhat predictable.
- It should be free from error (every single time).
The objective of BPA is to make processes more streamlined and cost-effective. In other words, these processes should reduce costs, lower inputs, increase profitability, and simultaneously require less manual effort and/or person-hours.
The Difference Between BPA and BPM
While the terms are used interchangeably, business process automation and business process management (BPM) are not the same thing. Whereas BPA uses technology to automate repeatable tasks, BPM is a collaboration between the business and IT to model and optimize business processes to meet larger strategic goals. To put it another way, BPM is a practice that looks at the organization as a whole, while BPA is a strategy for improving particular processes. Thus, BPM is the overarching ideology, while BPA refers to the individual action steps.
“A BPA and BPM combination can be powerful, as BPM outlines and provides an architecture for all of the business processes to be mapped and automated,” Red Hat explains. “When applied within a BPM practice, BPA can be used to continually monitor and improve process efficiencies.”
It’s always a good idea to have a BPM framework in place. Still, as we move into 2022, leading organizations are more focused on implementing specific BPA technology to improve efficiency and profitability in key areas of their businesses.
As such, that’s where innovation is focused right now.
The Top Trends in Business Process Automation
Innovation is booming in the BPA space. So while we could highlight dozens of individual ideas and innovations, we’ll keep it simple and focus on the biggest trends we see as we prepare to turn the calendar from 2021 to 2022.
1. End-to-End Organizational Visibility
From a management perspective, having gaps in your organizational visibility is dangerous. It allows small issues to fester under the surface and potentially proliferate into much larger problems down the road.
Thankfully, BPA solutions make it easier to enjoy end-to-end organizational visibility with few (if any) gaps.
For example, FinancialForce has a cloud-based professional services automation platform that allows businesses to easily manage teams across the entire organization with rich, real-time insights.
This includes the ability to schedule the right people with the right skills for the right projects at the right time. It also streamlines the traditionally finicky handoff that exists between sales and service. Departments can work together through a shared view of the customer pipeline instead of working in silos.
Platforms like this are becoming more commonplace in organizations of all sizes. Because once you get a system in place, it’s totally scalable and adaptable. (They’re so effective that you’ll wonder how you ever did without.)
2. Better Employee Onboarding
Your business is only as good as the people you have on your team. And if you want to have a productive team, it all starts with a strong onboarding process.
The onboarding process is where you make your first impression as an organization. If things get off on the wrong foot, it’ll compromise your ability to get maximum value out of your employees. However, if things start positively, it gives you a nice launching pad for bigger and better things.
BPA paves the way for streamlined and automated employee onboarding by eliminating endless paperwork, disjointed tasks, employee dissatisfaction, and low productivity. In addition, it ensures a smooth transition from one onboarding task to the next, which fully integrates employees into the organization in a way that stabilizes the organization.
3. Proactive Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity threats are a big deal for small businesses and large organizations alike. (In fact, many hackers are actually targeting small businesses because they tend to be more vulnerable.) But thanks to advanced BPA solutions, it’s possible for any organization of any size to be more proactive with its cybersecurity efforts.
When implemented correctly, automation can proactively detect cyber attacks at the very first sign of a threat. This ensures attempted attacks only make it to the “front porch” and never actually “inside.”
BPA is quickly becoming an essential component of any company’s cybersecurity blanket. The best tools have validation technology in place and require multiple levels of authentication.
4. Voice-Activated Automation
We see significant growth in the voice-activated automation space (and you can expect it to explode onto the scene in 2022). This technology, which is also growing quickly in the consumer marketplace with technologies like Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, is perfect for increasing flexibility and productivity in the workplace.
The key to voice-activated automation in the workplace is to implement it in ways that promote greater efficiency (rather than convoluting existing processes). Examples include:
- Turning lights on and off in areas where employees are likely to have their hands full (like storage rooms).
- Recording notes and video in meeting rooms.
- Unlocking doors and other access points.
Voice-activated automation is especially powerful when it comes to connecting different platforms. For example, when you combine a tool like Google Home with an application like IFTTT or Zapier, the possibilities are endless.
5. Reallocation of Human Labor
For decades, people have been worried that automation and robots will eventually steal jobs away from humans and make employees obsolete. But the more we watch BPA advance, it becomes clear that this is not the case. In fact, the opposite is true.
What BPA will do in 2022 is simply reallocate human labor to more strategic positions. In other words, automated technology streamlines menial, repetitive tasks (which are expensive for businesses and frustrating for employees). In turn, these employees are able to reallocate their energy, creativity, and talent to tasks that require human input. This makes them more valuable to their employers, while also ensuring employees spend time doing more enjoyable work.
6. AI Tech Stacking
Artificial intelligence will become much more commonplace in organizations in 2022. More specifically, we expect to see different tools layered and integrated together in a way that increases their value. This includes machine learning, image recognition, natural language processing, and even intelligent optical character recognition.
By creatively and intentionally combining multiple AI technologies together, businesses will be able to use these tools in ways that were previously thought impossible. This will fundamentally transform digital workflows and dramatically increase productivity across the board. It’s going to be a game-changer, to say the least.
Looking to the Future
It’s impossible to know which specific technologies will take root over the next three to five years. (So much can change so fast.) However, this much we know to be true: Business process automation will continue to be a core focus for growing organizations that want to improve productivity, ramp up their output, and bolster their bottom lines.
If you want your organization to enjoy these tantalizing perks, you’d be wise to place a similar emphasis on BPA in 2022 and beyond.
Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!
UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!