Today’s diverse automation options are already beginning to coevolve and converge into a broad weave – a “fabric”– that sits above the app layer (Forrester, Automation is the New Fabric for Digital Business report)

In order to be successful in today’s increasingly tech-dependent business landscape, technology executives must understand how automation can improve their organisation’s processes. But most companies focus primarily on easy AI implementations, such as robotic process automation (RPA) in siloed business areas, to see fast results and patch up specific problems or inefficiencies. 

For a longer-lasting transformational change, the key is creating an automation fabric for your organisation. Automation fabric goes beyond the basic building blocks of intelligent automation (IA). It is a much more comprehensive and holistic automation toolkit, offering both physical automations and integrated solutions to organisational processes.

Back to basics: What is the automation fabric? 

Especially post-pandemic, intelligent automation has revolutionised many business processes. Thanks to RPA, digital process automation (DPA), process- and task-mining, intelligent document extraction, and more, gone are the days of struggling with brittle, manual applications to complete simple tasks.  

However, nowadays, automation must go deeper. It needs to be aligned with strategic digital goals, not just cost mitigation and singular problem-solving. Automation is a critical last-mile enabler for multiple levels of transformation.  

If automated processes are understood and implemented in silos, then they won’t live up to their potential as transformative technologies. Similarly, many companies only implement automation as tactical bandages to patch up pockets of inefficiency. The underlying application or process remains manual, which leads to long-term unpredictability and technical debt.  

Automation maturity, or understanding the full automation fabric, means that a single united team will coordinate work and standards so that the entire company can benefit from integrated automation. 

In order to successfully build an automation fabric, your organisation must be agile enough to continually adapt and improve its technologies. 

A mixed approach to automation fabrics  

Companies that get automation right will perform much better than those that don’t. Their business will be tech-driven with integrated, scalable, and adaptable processes.  

For example, the best automation fabrics will combine RPA, low-code tools, integration platforms as a service (iPaaS), process intelligence, chatbots, and machine learning all in one unified and flexible architecture, rather than depending on multiple large (and often monolithic) enterprise applications independently.  

Also, technology executives must remember that both customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) are keys to the long-term success of their automation fabric. Although the pandemic required us to produce more with less in the digital world, the result was often a poorer user and employee experience. Effective automation technologies must empower people and foster experience innovation, not replace them.  

The big decisions that lie ahead and how to tackle them 

Shifting to an integrated intelligent automation fabric in your organisation will affect top or bottom line effectiveness, efficiency, and business risk. Technology executives need to:  

  • Make hard platform choices. There are at least four IA platforms you could choose from: automation support platforms, DPA platforms, RPA pure plays, emerging AI-led platforms, integration-centric products (iPaaS), and even enterprise service management platforms. These short-term platform choices must be seen as investments, and you must be ready to adapt them quickly as your automation fabric evolves.
  • Treat the automation portfolio as an enterprise product to truly unleash the value of intelligent automation. This means visualising a roadmap of continuous improvement, leveraging user-centric thinking, communicating the business value of automation to all stakeholders, and incentivising automation-first behaviour across a variety of user personas. 
  • Use basic low-code tools to design your automation fabric. This will make your business more user-friendly as you get started. Over time, these basic automation creation tools will become more refined and allow more flexibility within heterogeneous, bot-based, and API-based workflows. 
  • Level-up process intelligence with AI. Automation teams need data to answer key questions about business models and process streamlining. AI-enhanced observability of these processes will deliver critical insights that can guide firms and executives to the best answers and solutions.

Here at redk, we are ready to help your organisation design and implement an automation fabric that will work seamlessly for both you and your clients. As experts in digital transformation, we are ready to help your company unleash the true power of intelligent automation for business success