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The Hyperautomation Playbook – C‑suite Buy‑in, Cultural Change, and end-to-end process automation

Roland Alston, Appian
May 10, 2021

From hyperautomation to the remote-work revolution, the post-COVID world is changing at blazing speed and organizations everywhere are struggling to keep up.

In the financial services industry, for example, the largest wealth and asset managers are struggling to keep a lid on rising operating costs amid fast-changing regulations and customer expectations. The volatility is like a pressure cooker that’s driving demand for business process automation in an industry traditionally slow to embrace digital.

As a sidebar:

  • Wealth management is the professional work of investing and growing assets while minimizing risk and preserving wealth.
  • The industry represents an estimated $89 trillion in assets under management.
  • More than half of these assets belong to institutional investors like banks and funds. The rest belongs to smaller organizations or individuals.

Enter: Gurdeep Batra, Business Transformation and Technology Consulting Leader for Wealth and Asset Management at consulting giant EY. With over 20 years of experience in global financial services across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Batra is fighting the good fight against accidental automation. In fact, if he were a superhero, Batra’s superpower would be helping EY clients get the most out of their hyperautomation journey

It’s hard to navigate the massive disruption of COVID-19, but Batra urges us to look forward rather than back, to automate our way to progress even in the gloomiest of times. No, business automation stories aren’t always heroic, but Batra reminds us that C-suite buy-in, cultural change, and end-to-end process automation repeatedly wins the day. Enough said. Let’s cue the first episode of this two-part blog: The Soul of Hyperautomation: C-suite Buy-in, Cultural Change, and end-to-end process automation.

Appian: So, let's start out with you telling our readers about yourself and what you do at EY. Let's start there.

Gurdeep: I sit in a consulting service line (at EY) that focuses on financial services. I’m responsible for what we call the wealth and asset management sector. And I primarily focus on business transformation and technology consulting in the financial services including wealth management, asset management, hedge funds, etc., basically anything to do with financial securities, capital markets and the like.

Appian: Okay, so talk a little bit about how you work with Appian in terms of the consulting you do with clients. What kinds of use cases are typical of how you work with Appian to help your asset and wealth management clients?

Gurdeep: Absolutely. Think about the disruption the asset management industry has experienced over the last 12 months. And, you know, we can talk at length about COVID-19 and how the pandemic has caused a lot of volatility in the markets. The pandemic has put tons of pressure on the legacy asset management systems of our clients.

Appian: How, in what ways?

Gurdeep: Historically, these systems depended on lots of manual and paper-based processing. There was a lot of focus on human interactions. There was also tremendous pressure to go digital to cope up with all of the disruption that came with the COVID crisis. So, for example, customer service modernization became a high priority item for clients. The thing is, if you’re a senior executive, and you want to thrive in a crisis, you need to be able to adapt quickly.

Likewise for the automation technology behind your financial management systems. So, when I think about the Appian low-code automation platform, I think about the phenomenal job it’s done in helping us bring together the broad ecosystem of hyperautomation tools and capabilities to address our clients’ challenges.

Appian: Can you give some examples of that?

Gurdeep: Appian allows us to provide our clients with everything from business process management (BPM) capability to low-code development. Which means our clients don’t have to go through the whole life cycle of a traditional software development process before making changes to their business processes. Low-code allows us to help our clients quickly move in and look at acquisitions and integrate new and existing capabilities and systems in a seamless way through BPM. On top of that, a low-code platform gives us the capability to keep up with the fast-moving convergence of intelligent automation and BPM.

Appian: So, what are the biggest drivers for your clients, what are their top priorities in the post-COVID economy?

Gurdeep: I’d say it’s customer experience, cost optimization, and mitigating risk. So, this whole automation ecosystem combined with low-code and BPM has helped our clients hit the mark with their cost optimization and digital transformation goals. But if I had to identify the number one priority of our clients, I would say it’s to improve customer experience. Reducing costs and mitigating risks are important but keeping customers happy is at the top of our clients’ wish list.

Appian: So, cost savings is not the biggest driver.

Gurdeep: No. It’s important but when I talk to boards and C-suite execs, they consistently prioritize improving customer experience and managing operational risk over cost.

Appian: But there are still a lot of companies out there, a lot of senior executives who hesitate to double down on their automation investment. Many of these companies are stuck in the pilot phase of automating critical business processes. So, how do you deal with that kind of lack of urgency at the senior exec level. What's your playbook for that?

Gurdeep: At a strategic level, scaling automation across the organization is essential. But when you’re talking to a line manager, he or she may think only about automating specific functions. But if you’re a senior exec, you have to think about automation in the context of meeting the organization’s strategic business priorities. If your automation game plan is not aligned with that, you’ll come up short or create a lot of confusion.

I think it’s essential to think about automation in the context of the kind of firm you're trying to be in the marketplace. Then, think about your hyperautomation journey from both an operations and technology perspective. Think about it as a primary driver for achieving your business objectives, and support that with two or three key themes.

Appian: Could you elaborate on that? What do you mean by themes?

Gurdeep: So, for example, your first theme should be to win buy-in from top management. This is critical to winning support from the top of the organization. But be clear that your automation strategy is not about reducing your workforce but improving business processes across the entire organization.

Watch this space for the final episode of: The Hyperautomation Playbook: C-suite Buy-in, Cultural Change, and end-to-end process automation.