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A critical component of modern business success is the ability to understand and balance the human and machine-driven processes that enable scalability in a competitive, ever-evolving market.

They must then integrate automation solutions to streamline processes in an effort to create more agility across business teams and fulfill the modern consumer's demand for seamless experiences.

There are three key elements to business leaders' successfully implementing process automation into their current workflows at scale:

  1. First, brands must establish clear business objectives and map out their current processes to determine when and where they can implement automation solutions effectively
  2. After business goals have been clearly defined, a center of excellence (COE) composed of a designated task force and change agents must be formed.
  3. The last key component of successful automation implementation is identification and prioritization of tech initiatives.

1. Establishing Business Goals

Digital transformation can be daunting. From automation and analytics to artificial intelligence and machine-learning, technology is constantly evolving. As a result, business leaders are often overwhelmed by having to keep up with new technologies and learning how to use them while also trying to lead their business and deliver value to their clients. That is one of the reasons automation implementation can seem like such an overwhelming task.

The best way to help mitigate the complexity is to take the time to establish your business vision and future-state strategy. Once you have a solid understanding of the needs and objectives of your business, along with a detailed, thought-out road map to guide you through the journey, you'll feel less overwhelmed and you will be in a much better position to start planning for the technical side of automation implementation.

2. Establishing a Center of Excellence

Equally as important as identifying your business goals and future state is making sure that the right capabilities are collected and the strongest teams are built to spearhead the movement and ensure the consistent use of best-practices throughout the organization.

That's where the development of a center of excellence (COE) comes into play.

One of the main challenges in automation implementation is maintaining the human/machine balance. The COE plays a key part in supporting that, along with the help of change management professionals, the human resources department, organizational learning and development experts, and functional business managers/leaders.

Collectively, they must drive digital transformations around the future of the business while executing the vision established by organizational leadership and driving optimizations in the way work is performed.

A successful COE must be able to navigate the changing landscape efficiently and effectively while sustaining innovation in the core business. Sustaining innovation is essential because it creates capital, either by freeing up resources (such as people and operational costs) or generating revenue that can be reapplied to disruptive innovation projects.

Focusing on disruptive innovations is pointless if the core business can't support it—i.e., you can't spend what you don't have.

3. Prioritizing Tech Initiatives

Organizations can take multiple approaches to housing the specific technologies needed to deliver on a digital transformation initiative. Although some may be centralized and others federated, both have the same challenge: prioritizing what gets worked on first.

Whether it be a disruptive innovation, such as a new type of ad product for a particular vertical, or a sustaining innovation, such as customer experience or internal efficiency initiatives, areas of focus for automation implementation shift and change over time. Accordingly, it's necessary to prioritize initiatives in a logical order to create lasting and substantial change.

The COE should first target use cases directly tied to the organization's current business strategy. That ensures the core business is well-positioned for a period of time so other initiatives can be focused on.

* * *

Any organization that chooses to embark on an automation journey will face resistance and pushback from within the company. From the outset, the biggest challenge for business leaders is to figure out how to effectively balance two opposing forces—the immediate needs of the workforce and the organization's long-term needs.

Establishing a clear business vision and strategy is the first step toward effective automation implementation. After that, it's essential to address the technical side of digital transformation with the same kind of tactical planning.

Rather than jumping into immediate technology implementation, business leaders must invest in building dedicated teams—the COE, task force, and change agents—that will plan and oversee the initiatives. In addition to spearheading the automation movement as a whole, those groups will help ensure that tech enablement always aligns with the organization's business strategy.

More Resources on Automating Marketing Processes

How to Prepare for Marketing's Flexible Future: Automated Marketing Processes

How to Prepare Your Organization for Marketing Automation

How to Use Marketing Automation to Create Contextual Sales Conversations

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image of Jay Kulkarni

Jay Kulkarni is the CEO and founder of Theorem, a digital marketing services provider.

LinkedIn: Jay Kulkarni