Adding AI capabilities to your operations means setting your company up for future success. To ensure that such projects deliver effective and sustainable results, it comes down to building a rock-solid foundation. This foundation needs to address your objectives, your timeline, the type of tools you use, and how people are prepared.
Let's get into it!
Determine clear Objectives
You shouldn't start an AI project just to follow a trend. To succeed, you need to demonstrate value early on. Therefore, you should work out quantifiable objectives. Think about how you can clearly prove the project's positive impact.
An ideal example would be to estimate the monetary value of the hours saved by AI-enabled automation. Comparing those with the project costs (implementation & operating costs) will give you a measurable ROI. Since those projects are the easiest to communicate, you should start with them.
In other cases, the added value can be more qualitative. For example, improved customer experience does not show up as a single quantifiable item on your financial statements immediately. Work out measurable goals for the initiative and tie a monetary value to them so they can always be compared to the costs.
For example, think about how much it would improve your offering if customers could get instant replies. Could this become a competitive advantage? Would customers choose you over others? And what would be the added benefit of this?
Define your timeline
As with all other objectives, it helps to determine milestones with deadlines that give guidance. Since AI projects often involve people from various departments who likely work on the project next to their day-to-day tasks, first deadlines should come quickly to retain focus. Keep the core objective achievable within 6-12 months* to uphold momentum.
Choose the right tools for your needs
Selecting AI-powered process automation tools that both integrate with your existing systems and deliver practical value is critical to building a sustainable autonomous ecosystem.
Luckily, there is a host of tools is at your disposal. To guide your efforts, here are the key elements you should consider when choosing tools for AI-enabled process automation:
Every AI-driven tool you work with should get to the beating heart of the issue, offering direct value at every step of the journey. For instance, if you’re searching for a tool to automate your project management workflows, your tool must trigger the correct command or response from the right application at every phase of the operation or it will offer little value
Therefore, your process automation tools must be compatible with your existing platforms and interfaces to ensure seamless integration.
The AI process automation tools you choose should be universally accessible. If only your technical staff can use or troubleshoot your automation technology, the level of intervention required to ensure everything is running correctly or at optimal capacity eats into the obtained productivity gains.
Many tools nowadays focus on non-technical users first and there is no reason to play games on expert-mode just for the sake of it. When researching automation tools, look for applications that are user-friendly, intuitive, and relatively easy to master.
The most reliable and effective AI automation tools are customizable. Choosing tools that you can customize without deep technical expertise will ensure you can develop a solution that will meet your needs in the long term.
Scalability is another essential factor. If your tools and applications can’t scale with your business, you will run into technical issues that will hinder your progress. When choosing your tools, you should always consider how they will be able to grow with you: Is the pricing sustainable on a larger scale? Can solutions be adapted as you tackle more use-cases? Will there be compatibility issues for a company-wide rollout?
5. Alignment with regulations
You must understand the regulations you may need to meet regarding data handling, protection, and security. Reviewing the impact the software may have on company policy to ensure compliance and avoid misuse issues from cropping up.
How to prepare the organization
AI automation adoption depends on appropriate cultural alignment. When introducing a new AI project, we tell our customers to prepare for a backlash.
To ensure the long-term success of AI initiatives, the technology needs to become woven into your company's DNA. Ideally, employees should be proud to work in an innovative company that frees them from tedious tasks.
However, 70% of US citizens fear that autonomous robots will take over key aspects of their lives**. And, it appears that this concern spills into the workplace. Workers are worried that AI-powered innovations will replace their jobs, threatening their livelihoods with the development of every new application.
To put things in perspective, 90% of employees are burdened with tasks that could be easily automated***. This is not to say that all of their jobs can but if the dull parts can be taken out, you will increase efficiency while giving your team the space to perform to their full potential.
It is essential to communicate that AI automation replaces tasks, not jobs. Rather than taking the place of humans, AI-driven process automation performs tedious tasks with intelligence, freeing up human workers to place their efforts into more strategic or creative pursuits.
By conveying the benefits of automation clearly, you can turn fear into pride. Give your employees concrete examples of the tasks they will be freed from and suggest how that can make their work more meaningful. If possible, demonstrate the positive effects AI can have by showcasing teams that are already empowered by it.
Communication should come before action. Rather than presenting implemented AI solutions to your team as a fait accompli, you should aim to involve them with regular progress updates and by requesting their feedback.
Create the right setup
For your tools, applications, and initiatives to work across the organization, everyone must be prepared for the changes.
1. Convince senior management
For larger companies, the process should start with convincing the organizational leaders. If senior decision-makers are not willing to accept company-wide changes, AI-efforts will stay siloed within departments. Since this often prevents them from unfolding their full potential, management buy-in is key.
2. Create a cross-functional task force
Senior executives across the business that know the automated business process inside-out should keep track of the KPIs and communicate if anything goes off-path. Complementary, an IT team should be responsible for offering practical guidance on how new AI-driven tools and applications integrate with or affect existing technologies.
3. Appoint AI ambassadors
For kick-off, AI ambassadors should set up practical workshops to teach staff how to leverage new tools and technology to their advantage. Once the project is running, they will be able to answer any process automation questions and gather employee feedback on the changes.
If your employees encounter any issues or operational inefficiencies with your new processes or applications, you will be able to use this to make vital improvements to ensure your automated systems are working to optimum capacity. Never stop gathering feedback, and never fail to act on it.
As you integrate AI-driven process automation technology into the organization, involving your staff in every step of the journey will make your transition smooth, fluid, and ultimately, reliable.
For effective process automation with AI, it helps to start small. By adopting AI-driven processes incrementally, you will be able to ensure that your systems are implemented with care and deliver positive results.
Incremental adoption of AI will provide you with valuable insights that you can use to expand your automation processes. Also, if you encounter any operational roadblocks, starting small and building your system slowly will prevent operations grinding to a complete halt while you troubleshoot the issue.
Start by experimenting with different solutions. Don't try to force a solution onto your company if employees refrain from using it after they have been taught how it works. If a solution provides value and people know how to use it, it will be adopted.
Starting small will cement the reliability of your AI-powered business process automation system in the longterm. Also, it will make it easier to generate quick wins which you will need to further implement AI into your company.
Consider these key elements and you will be able to find the perfect approach for your company. Here we are covering tools that help you automate tasks using unstructured data.