Mailing lists like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com are often overlooked. Especially those where customer requests come in. A lot of people look at those potentially multiple people start replying. Or even sending mails to figure out who's replying. A process can help with the selection of who's going to answer, ensure there is exactly one person answering and reminders and escalations can help to ensure SLAs are met.
Although I believe that real automation is in many cases still not present or poorly implemented, I encounter that other issue: Business processes that have been automated, rather than optimized.
Rather than thinking twice and reengineer the fundamentals, processes sometimes seem to being automated just for the sake of automation. Workflow can be an excellent example here: Imagine we have 7 departments (or roles) playing some part in a process. Paper based workitems are being transfered between these departments following a certain flow. The worst you can do is to mimic the same flow by automating it. Yes, it will be quicker, and yes, perhaps you have better control. But you have not thought about the WHY.
In our country - Uruguay - in particular, there is a process that is being deployed fast to several public organizations: Electronic Communications and Notifications (e-notifications). This award winning process based on INTEGRADOC, lets any citizen or private company to have an electronic address where they receive any communication or notification issued by any public body in the country. It provides a huge benefit for the citizen/private company, given they don’t need to have one electronic address for each public body, instead of this, they have only one that concentrates legal communications and notifications.
But, in the rest of Latin America, there aren’t solutions like that. So each public body implements its own “electronic address”, and citizens have to use dozens of different applications. I think there’s a huge improvement opportunity adopting a single BPM solution like the one presented below, en every Latam country
A commonly overlooked opportunity is the contact database unification via digital channels.
We might receive feedback (suggestions, complaints, etc.) from customers via different channels: social media, email, WhatsApp, website form... and each one of them might require a different answer. It would be best to have a unique and centralized process that "collects" all those communications and doesn't come to an end until the client receives a proper answer.
That way we could also have useful KPIs, such as: which channel receives the most feedback, amount of complaints, customer satisfaction, etc.
Government: there are far too few citizen-facing BPM-driven applications at every level of government. Two places we are seeing improvement in this area are at the local level, where there's some real innovation going on in places like Milwaukee suburb West Allis, WI; and in public universities, which are increasingly turning to BPM for applications engaging students, staff, faculty, parents, alumni, and prospective students.
Healthcare: go to any BPM conference today and you'll discover an overwhelming percentage of presentations are healthcare-related. This is a positive development, and yet, with all the money flowing into EHR, combined with the heavy regulatory demands of HIPAA, one might reasonably have expected to have seen a lot more. There has been tremendous growth in case management in this space, but BPM in general has plenty of headroom.
I could go on. Keep this question in your mind the next time you are interacting with a customer service agent, buying something online, or filling out a government form. I guarantee you'll find your own favorite example.
Agree with most commenters that automation is a means, not a goal.
Besides that, automating is not the same as BPM. 'Automated' doesn't mean a 'well managed process that does what you promise'
So every possibility for automation (what does this actually mean: done autonomously or supporting a human?) should be brought into a process context to understand wether are not it has value.
And most value will be in parts that annoy employees or customers or are done 20 million times a day and need the same outcome all the time.
And that can differ from process to process.
For example. Intake for a very common insurance like car insurance; I think that can be automated. Enter some data; software calculates premium: done!
That's what the customers wants. What do I have to pay and what is covered?
But when he has damage, I think the claim process needs a human touch. The customer wants to be heard, might be a little stressed and might have many questions. I would not automate that. But of course the employee is helped by all kind of systems, but as asked before; is that automation?
So concluding; don't automate because you can, automate because it has value for your processes.
Thanks for interesting discussion. I would add that the most overlooked opportunity is "enterprise-as-a-system-of-processes". See ref1 and ref2.
What opportunities for automation are most overlooked today? (Dr. Samarin says "unused opportunties".)
A fascinating and important question, and the wealth of insights so far is evidence of opportunity. The key here is "overlooked"; otherwise this discussion is a repeat of popular topics on BPM.com.
I like Mr. Baeyens' comment that inbound customer inquiries is an overlooked opportunity for automation! Seriously? Yes! A humble, important and ubiquitous aspect of almost any business or government service. And yet automation is too often missing in action. Is inbound customer service an "overlooked opportunity", or possibly just too difficult?
On the other end of the scale, Dr. Alexander suggests that the whole enterprise as a system-of-processes is itself an overlooked opportunity. Again, "overlooked" or "too difficult"?
In both cases, from micro to macro, what "business / technology space" are we in?
1. DOMAIN -- "Automation" is about the application of technology as a force multiplier for human effort, both physical and cognitive.
2. BUSINESS CASE -- An "opportunity" is first a use case, then a business case, which must be ranked to see if it is a worthwhile investment (the "investment case").
3. INNOVATION -- An automation opportunity is specifically a opportunity concerning "innovation", i.e. changing how things are currently done.
4. OPPORTUNITY -- And "overlooked" suggests business opportunity, because the market for automation opportunities has systematically discounted a given category of automation use cases.
Now we are in Geoffrey Moore and Everett Rogers territory, with the sociology of innovation processes. What do visionaries and early adopters need to help them pursue innovation? BPM is fantastic technology, what I believe is the core technology of work automation.
All the challenges of selling new technology apply, especially two challenges: (1) BPM technology maturity and difficulty in use and (2) governance and the socialization of knowledge of business process technology throughout management.
My conclusion is that the biggest overlooked opportunity for automation is to sell BPM for automation more vigorously, and with the acknowledgment of the unique requirements of that evangelization effort. It's a step-by-step process and we are only at the beginning of the journey.