Automation: The essential tool for supply chains to operate as usual in ‘the new normal’


Abhishek Shah, Co-Founder and Group CEO, RSA Global
Abhishek Shah, Co-Founder and Group CEO, RSA Global

Co-authored by Abhishek Shah, Co-Founder and Group CEO, RSA Global, and Milan Sheth, EVP - IMEA, Automation Anywhere

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Published: Mon 1 Jun 2020, 1:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 2 Jun 2020, 2:20 PM

Global supply chains have become more complex and interconnected than ever. The advent of automation and digital transformation journey has ensured that there is a complex chain of human and digital workers collaborating to make the modern supply chain as seamless as possible. For consumers, these supply chains appear shorter as they witness movement of goods and products at lightning speeds.

However, what the current Covid-19 situation has shown is that the new normal for businesses is already here. Business continuity plans are being revisited to adapt to the unprecedented climate. It is not surprising that automation now features higher up the priority lists for some, as it ensures that certain business operations can operate with the same or increased effectiveness.

Early movers reaping the rewards of intelligent automation

While automation deployments still present new learnings and findings, supply chains that are already running automated processes have an advantage. Automation is a key part of large-scale digital transformation projects and it is designed to keep routine and repetitive tasks functioning as usual with minimal human supervision. Thus, dealing with the Covid-19 situations might have been easier for some.

At RSA Global, the foundations of manual processes are being excavated and replaced by robust digital alternatives. This is paving the way for a more transparent, non-compromised and high-quality customer experience, particularly important during the current crisis when RSA's promise to its customers is “Dependable, Flexible and Innovative.”

Automation Anywhere’s Intelligent Digital Transformation platform has further helped RSA to deal more effectively with mass remote working while maintaining high productivity. IT resilience is a key part of automated supply chains, and the ability to perform business as usual is a massive benefit. It reinforces the unseen advantage of intelligent automation, creates a culture of acceptance within the enterprise and boosts team morale. Furthermore, these initiatives are buttressed by a strong focus on cybersecurity.

Clear benefits of intelligent automation

In the logistics industry, old-school processes and multi-stakeholder relationships add another layer of complexity. For instance, the global wide transportation of cargo is steeped in paperwork and manual processing. Automating such tasks can save a lot of man-hours and costs. Similarly, customer-facing jobs such as invoice management, conflict resolution and real-time updates create a link between all vendors in the supply chain. Each of these tasks provide value and automating them impacts effectiveness.

It is recommended to kick-start intelligent automation in supply chains with the low-hanging fruit. By automating repetitive tasks that require data and accuracy, supply chains can begin to realise benefits. There are numerous areas where automation can directly boost revenue generation such as data analytics, preventive maintenance, and smart transportation. Other areas where indirect benefits can make the supply chain more effective must also be explored.

While devising automation implementation programs and CoEs, supply chain enterprises often look for ROI too soon. The real benefits of automation begin to trickle down through the value chain only once some processes are automated and people begin noticing the value it brings. Such a cultural shift is not easy to initiate without some working models in place.

Deriving holistic value from automation at RSA Global

At RSA Global, initial process discovery was a key challenge that had to be overcome. Several departments and stakeholders were consulted to determine which processes could add the most value, if automated. Assessing time spent on each activity and its importance in the value chain was not easy. Several team members were part of these feasibility discussions.

Currently, automation of identified processes saves anywhere between five to 80 monthly hours, depending on complexity. Each hour saved can be diverted towards delivering better customer experiences. This shift is in line with the company’s strategy to become 100 per cent digital by 2021 and boost productivity.

There has been no better time for man and machine to work side-by-side, towards mutually beneficial objectives. The supply chain industry is just one of many that is going to see increased adoption of intelligent automation over the coming years, and RSA Global’s working models of harmonious relationships are proof of that.

Milan Sheth, EVP – IMEA, Automation Anywhere
Milan Sheth, EVP – IMEA, Automation Anywhere

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