Why do business users want to build RPA bots in the first place? The answer seems simple on the surface (business owned flexibility and adaptability of their technology) but if we dig a bit further into the root cause of this one, you will surface other organizational pain points that have contributed to this business quest for IT independence. Yes, we are in a disruptive high-pressure “change or be changed” business climate where none of us want to end up as the next #blockbuster case study. Yet the two teams that should be working hand and hand to respond and adapt to this rapidly changing customer environment are not always aligned and in sync as you would expect.
It’s no secret and I hear it in almost every organization I have observed throughout my tenure and it is a big reason why RPA (although existed for 20+ years) suddenly became mainstream a few years ago. The fact that in an organization, traditionally IT and business have not always seen eye to eye (I know, shocker right) and in many cases have not even looked each other in the eye for quite some time. Not my words, all of theirs… with the standard justification something to the fact that, “IT is too expensive, too slow, and when delivered brings me 20% of the functionality I asked for. Changes? Forget about it”. On the other side of the wall, IT typically responds with, “The business never knows what they want, what their users do, they want it for free and they want it yesterday… and when we deliver it, it’s never right”
Common complaints with one another that over time have led to further distrust, misalignment and driven a wedge deeper and deeper between these two critical groups. A wedge that compounds over time impacting company growth, cost to deliver, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. More importantly for this discussion, it has left the business feeling like they must go outside of the organization to find new ways to deliver faster, cheaper, and more flexible technology solutions to keep up competitively in the marketplace and deliver a unique customer experience.
Over time, the vendor community has seen and responded strategically to this wedge in hopes of capitalizing on this organizational discourse. Problem is, many of these solutions don’t address the true root cause of discourse and instead seem to offer conflict avoidance approaches that only dig the wedge in deeper. Some of the more popular conflict avoidance strategies in our recent past and current state include:
- Outsourcing - remove the work = remove the problem - Outsourcing the work to someone else who will manage a piece of the operations at a lower cost.
- App store mentality purchasing - “Buy not Build” - Cloud / SaaS applications offering OOTB point solutions to fill functionality gaps. More business control and quick to deploy but don’t forget about integration? Uh, IT can you help with that?
- NoCode your way to business freedom - Offer Low/No Code design platforms for the business so they can have the power and control to manage technology at their speed and not be dependent on IT. Business built, business managed.
Without argument, all three strategies continue to play an important role in business transformation but only #3 has the opportunity, if addressed properly, to begin to realign this business / IT relationship for the better… remember, treating the cause (technology at business speed) vs symptom (less IT dependent) is our goal. Treating the symptom here only focuses on technology enablement by giving the business yet another NoCode/LowCode tool to continue them down this path of becoming less IT dependent. Taking a “treat the cause” approach refocuses the business away from becoming IT Independent and instead focuses on the realignment of the people, process and technology required to deliver technology at business speed. Investing in a NoCode/LowCode platform for RPA is a great first step on the technology side but without proper alignment and ownership of the other two transformation pillars, you may end up sacrificing long term transformation for short term wins and risk losing this truly differentiating technology in the trough for good.
About the author Scott Merritt is a passionate advocate of “Responsible RPA” having spent the last 15 years embedded in the process optimization and RPA space performing over 100 process automation assessments and supporting over 50 RPA implementations. As Global Head of Automation for Jacada, Scott leads the go-to-market strategy for their automation portfolio and works as a trusted advisor for customers and prospects actively pursuing a digital transformation strategy. Scott has 20+ years’ experience in enterprise technology, serving in consulting, sales and sales leadership roles and carries with him a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt which he acquired earlier in his career during his tenure at Cardinal Health.