29 Apr 2021

The time is right to drive strategic value with intelligent automation

Organisations can seize the automation-led opportunity to deliver improvements to efficiency and productivity, better citizenship experience, increased employee satisfaction and more intelligent decision making by focusing on some common challenges, writes Simon Perks, Head of Robotics and AI at Agilisys. Part of techUK's Intelligent Automation Week #AutomationUK

There's no doubting the fact that automation has already become integral to public sector transformation. At Agilisys, we've seen rapid growth in our automation division, as organisations across central, regional and local government, as well as policing and healthcare, have turned to automation to deal with multiple challenges.

While RPA has been the mainstay of the public sector adoption of automation to date, we're now talking to numerous organisations that are looking to exploit the potential for more advanced intelligent automation (IA). It's easy to see why organisations are looking to build on the success of RPA. Across the 23 local authorities, we've delivered solutions for, as well as our healthcare partners such as NHSX, NHSBSA and the Royal Marsden; multiple benefits have been delivered, including:

  • Efficiency and productivity gains – high-volume tasks and manual processes free up resources for the public sector to achieve more with the same resources.
  • Boosted employee satisfaction – freed up from the mundane, employees can spend time focusing on added value tasks, often doing more of what they signed up to do. This has been achieved through our work with NHSBSA, for example.
  • Improved citizen experience – end-to-end digitisation is often enabled by automation, allowing the design and delivery of more customer-centric services.
  • Smarter data-led decision-making – automation can sift through vast volumes of data – working 24/7 – to extract insights to support human decision-making.
  • Quick wins, strategic potential – automation can provide quick tactical wins in addressing cumbersome processes (read more here about our work to automate Child Plans for Aberdeen City Council). However, it can also contribute to the strategic redesign or replacement of a process or application.
  • Greater governance – automation is contributing to data security and meeting GDPR demands. Robotics sticks to the rules without the dangers of error or temptations to misuse the data.

Crucially, automation has the opportunity to reach all parts of organisations across the public sector, right up to central government. Front office, back office or anywhere in between. It can be HR, finance, IT, clinical services, social care or anywhere you choose. But only after a number of challenges are met.

One of those, described in an earlier blog for TechUK, is the need to think business integration, not systems integration, to unlock the full potential of automation success. I can't underestimate the role culture plays in the successful adoption of automation, whatever the complexity. It's the combined power of people working with technology that will allow organisations to deliver the greatest value. Automation needs the involvement of subject matter experts, those who know the processes. These are probably the busiest people in the organisation, so working with them to ensure they have the time to get this work done, is how you will start seeing value.

This goes hand-in-hand with the need for a detailed business case, which is often difficult for the public sector when much of the rationale for investment is in its future potential. That said, it is possible to identify a number of processes to which intelligent automation can be applied, make calculations on savings, and show how these can cover the initial cost. Once this is done and those first savings delivered, it lays the ground for other implementations and makes it easier to obtain further investment.

Another major challenge that I think is often skipped past by the public sector is identifying the correct technology so that you buy once. Finding the right partner to get you started on the journey is vitally important. Not just to deliver automation success but also so you're not relying on them in the long term if you want to exploit automation yourself. Deciphering the different marketing spin of the solutions into reality, and therefore easy for people to understand and reassure around, is also vital.

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the time is right to drive strategic value with intelligent automation. Organisations that seize this opportunity and overcome the challenges discussed here will deliver improvements to efficiency and productivity, better citizenship experience, increased employee satisfaction, and more intelligent decision-making, making a case for automation a no-brainer.

Agilisys partners with organisations across the public sector to unlock the potential of technology and transform the services that improve lives. ​To find out more, visit www.agilisys.co.uk

You can read all insights from techUK's Intelligent Automation Week here

Sue Daley

Sue Daley

Director, Technology and Innovation

Sue leads techUK's Technology and Innovation work.

This includes work programmes on cloud, data protection, data analytics, AI, digital ethics, Digital Identity and Internet of Things as well as emerging and transformative technologies and innovation policy. She has been recognised as one of the most influential people in UK tech by Computer Weekly's UKtech50 Longlist and in 2021 was inducted into the Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK Tech Hall of Fame. A key influencer in driving forward the data agenda in the UK Sue is co-chair of the UK government's National Data Strategy Forum. As well as being recognised in the UK's Big Data 100 and the Global Top 100 Data Visionaries for 2020 Sue has also been shortlisted for the Milton Keynes Women Leaders Awards and was a judge for the Loebner Prize in AI. In addition to being a regular industry speaker on issues including AI ethics, data protection and cyber security, Sue was recently a judge for the UK Tech 50 and is a regular judge of the annual UK Cloud Awards.

Prior to joining techUK in January 2015 Sue was responsible for Symantec's Government Relations in the UK and Ireland. She has spoken at events including the UK-China Internet Forum in Beijing, UN IGF and European RSA on issues ranging from data usage and privacy, cloud computing and online child safety. Before joining Symantec, Sue was senior policy advisor at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Sue has an BA degree on History and American Studies from Leeds University and a Masters Degree on International Relations and Diplomacy from the University of Birmingham. Sue is a keen sportswoman and in 2016 achieved a lifelong ambition to swim the English Channel.

[email protected]
020 7331 2055

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Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Head of Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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Chris Hazell

Programme Manager - Cloud, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Chris is the Programme Manager for Cloud, Tech and Innovation

Zoe Brockbank

Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

[email protected]
020 7331 2174

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