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Enterprises Understand Automation’s Benefits but Many Tasks Still Manual

Redwood Software released results this week from a survey of corporate “decision-makers” at 300 firms in the U.S. and UK that shows that nearly every enterprise (99 percent) spends “considerable personnel time doing repetitive manual tasks.” Nearly three-quarters of them (74 percent) spend “over a quarter of their time doing so.” That’s a lot of time wasted.

The researchers at Vanson Bourne found that “all organizations claim to automate processes to some degree, but this is largely limited to certain tasks and functions within organizations.” Top of the automation list: billing (at 16 percent) and human resources/payroll (at 15 percent) and billing. (One caveat: the survey only asked about a limited number of application categories.)

On average, only 44 percent of respondents said their enterprise automates their IT and business processes; about half do it on-premise, a quarter use the cloud.

Survey participants understand the benefits. Respondents thought the biggest benefit would come from automating IT processes and business intelligence and reporting.

Nearly four in five (79 percent) that have automated processes at their enterprise acknowledge that automation has delivered time savings. More than two thirds (69 percent) claim that automation improved their business productivity, though I’m surprised the number wasn’t higher. Nearly as many (61 percent) agree that automation regularly provides cost savings. These aren’t theoretical or expected benefits -- these are the benefits they’re enjoying now.

Given that the benefits are clear, why aren’t enterprises automating more tasks?

At the top of their list (at 64 percent): “Not being able to integrate legacy applications with new applications.” Next in line: it’s tough to use automation to manage complex processes (63 percent). Just over half (52 percent) chalk it up to “not having the right knowledge.”

Tijl Vuyk, CEO at Redwood Software, says that all of these issues can be solved by a process automation solution. He should know -- that solutions are Redwood’s specialty. In a prepared release, he noted, “It seems that businesses have just cherry-picked the ‘easy’ automation targets across a range of processes rather than tackling them from A-Z, despite seeing the value in doing so -- it’s a contradiction in terms.”

Though half of respondents use the cloud for private data storage, only a quarter of all respondents (25 percent) run business process automation in the cloud. Those who don’t say it’s because they lack resources (23 percent) or are worried about the perceived risk of doing so (20 percent).

A graphic summarizing the survey’s results is available at no cost here (no registration required).

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted on 10/26/2012

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