What is digital process automation?

Digital process automation brings together people, applications, devices, and information across an organization to produce a truly agile and digital organization. Digital process automation is often referred to as the next generation or evolution of business process management (BPM). Like BPM, digital process automation focuses on improving and digitizing the processes in an organization. However, digital process automation extends a bit further, to enable your entire organization to build smart apps and digitize all your processes—creating an engaging digital experience for customers.

Basic back-end integration, collaboration tools, and cloud-based architecture are the primary supporting technologies that businesses use to manage processes and automation efforts in an organization. Increasingly, robust and real-time analytics are being deployed and used with digital process automation. Innovations with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are crucial for continuous improvement, an important factor for digital transformation and innovation.

Digital process automation vs. business process management

Digital process automation uses the same technologies, skills, and platform strategies as BPM. The key goals of BPM were to drive costs down and make employees more productive by improving processes generally found in back offices. However, digital process automation goals are more focused on customer experiences, digital transformation, and innovation.

While BPM is still relevant, digital process automation enables you to establish end-to-end automation of processes across your organization. BPM is mainly focused on optimizing back office tasks to reduce cost. Digital process automation has a much broader reach that extends to making automation available throughout the company. Digital process automation enables anyone in the company, not just the technically inclined, to take advantage of automation.

Digital process automation is often differentiated from BPM due to three main features:

  • Low-code development is used more often than in BPM
  • Consumer-grade user experiences are one of the main focuses of DPA
  • Artificial Intelligence-based innovation is a key component of DPA

Low-code development puts the power of automation into everyone’s hands. Digital transformation demands automation of hundreds, if not thousands, of operational processes. Low-code application development platforms allow business users to tackle this challenge and go from concepting an idea to building a fully working business application in minutes. Business users can now own and sustain process automation crucial to customer experience and digital transformation. And, because of the low amount of coding needed, this means there will be far greater business stakeholder participation in creating applications. This will ensure that the applications align more closely with business goals. Low-code platforms also enable users to have more time to focus on innovations rather than on the basics of process automation.

Digital process automation allows organizations to provide powerful digital experiences for customers on any web or mobile channel. Front-end developers can use digital process automation to create consumer-grade user interfaces that ensure frictionless function in every digital customer interaction. In fact, organizations implementing digital process automation are reporting improved efficiencies and reduced costs for their customers. Many even use their customer satisfaction scores as key performance indicators (KPI) of their process automation efforts. After implementing digital process automation, users see quick and frictionless experiences for their customers.

When you add artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) to digital process automation, you move to a term called “intelligent process automation.” AI, in the form of advanced analytics, helps automatically predict and recommend the next best path for both employees and customers, contributing intelligent decisions to the mix. AI can recognize patterns in data in ways that humans cannot and learn from past decisions to make better and more intelligence choices in the future. AI is a powerful and leading innovation in the digital process automation evolution.

Additionally, RPA, which is its own form of process automation, brings speed and efficiency to your organization. RPA uses robots that mimic human actions to reduce manual, labor-intensive tasks. With robots performing manual tasks typically undertaken by humans, the speed and accuracy of organizational processes are increased.

While the technologies described here are all powerful, you must unify them to ensure that you are taking a strategic approach and automating entire processes, not just tasks, enterprise-wide. At this point, not too many businesses are engaging in advanced analytics, RPA, and digital process automation to help improve their processes, but these technologies will provide a huge leg up to organizations that can adopt and integrate all of these methods early.

Benefits of digital process automation

Achieve digital transformation

To digitally transform and innovate, business process optimization is key. You could have the best looking website, but if the processes that follow when a user clicks on the site from order management to delivery do not match up to that excellent experience, the customer can be lost. Therefore, digital process automation is a crucial part of improving customer experiences and achieving digital transformation. Without it, you can’t win, serve, or retain customers.

Since your organization is only as effective as its processes and people, they both need to evolve to support digital businesses. Traditional processes need to move away from standardization towards ad hoc and contextual, enabling omnichannel engagement for your customers. To deliver services based on automation, organizations need to orchestrate their complex operations through automated processes.

As you proceed toward creating a digital business, low-code and process management offerings can handle all your needs and drive better decisions with faster, smarter actions and automate the customer journey across systems and teams. These solutions meet the demanding technical standards of mission-critical applications while managing your processes and offering highly customizable features to meet all process automation needs.

Create more sophisticated and intuitive customer experiences

With digital process automation, organizations can create more sophisticated and intuitive customer journeys that build on investments in data, systems, and APIs. The integration capabilities that come with digital process automation allow data from all channels to flow seamlessly and provide the information and insights you need to succeed.

Collaborate across the entire organization

Today, developers face technological silos that make it challenging to deliver consistent customer experiences across digital channels. Developers often have to hard code business logic into each individual channel—creating disjointed customer experiences and maintenance difficulties. With digital process automation, developers can create easy-to-use interfaces at all customer touchpoints while directly connecting them to enterprise-wide processes.

Digital process automation can also enable IT and business teams to effectively collaborate, another major obstacle to achieving digital transformation. By using a common process language, IT and business teams can co-document, curate, and share processes—and then automate these processes—ensuring that business and IT goals and processes are aligned, leading to a more agile, nimble organization.

Reduce operational costs

Many users of digital process automation continue to see cost reductions even though that is not the main goal. The beauty of digital process automation is that cost reductions go hand-in-hand with improved customer experiences. Efficiencies that drive down cost often result in faster and more transparent experiences for customers.

Free employees from mundane tasks to increase innovation

Because digital process automation frees employees up from the busy work, it enables knowledge workers and employees at all levels of an organization to focus on more innovative tasks. For instance, instead of taking the time to onboard a customer, an employee now has time to think about the onboarding journey and ways to improve it.

Add a layer of agility to legacy systems

One of the main obstacles to achieving digital transformation is the fear and pain of having to replace legacy technologies. However, digital process automation platforms can wrap legacy systems with a process-centric application layer that empowers employees and increases agility to enable them to enhance customer experiences—all without having to give up what they already have.

Why digital process automation?

Digital process automation provides organizations with the agility and insight needed to enable a holistic approach to automating business processes. It allows you to manage the flow of data across your enterprise, making it easier to identify areas for improvement and make quick, agile changes: a necessity in today’s digital world.

Alternatively, BPM focuses on tasks while digital process automation impacts the entire company. There are many benefits of digital process automation:

  • Creating better customer experiences
  • Becoming a truly digital organization
  • Transforming legacy infrastructures to agile, responsive systems

Digital process automation also reduces costs and frees employees to innovate rather than spend time on manual tasks. It also unites IT and the business so their goals and actions can be completely aligned, making for a much more agile organization.

digital process automation diagram