Decoding Automation: Key Takeaways from Industry Leaders.

In an exclusive event organised by BW Businessworld for HCLSoftware with industry leaders held in Mumbai delved into the transformative power of automation, addressing challenges, trends, and the evolving landscape: Excerpts

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AI and automation are becoming increasingly important. Automation helps make things more efficient and reduces the need for traditional jobs. However, it also raises questions about what the future holds for human work and life. 

Francesca Curzi, Associate Vice President, HCLSoftware WW summoned the panellists for a discussion on hyper-automation and orchestration. The discussion highlighted the importance of a unified orchestrator, particularly sharing insights on implementing advanced iPad automation in their enterprise. The key focus was on the critical role of a metal orchestrator in seamlessly integrating various automation tools, eliminating isolated systems, and creating an efficient automation fabric.

The Evolving Curve of Automation:

McKinsey reported that in the present era, 50% of tasks can be automated, showcasing a significant potential for efficiency gains. Additionally, 31% of businesses have already achieved full automation in at least one of their functions, indicating a notable adoption of automated processes across industries. 

Balaji Rajagopalan, CTO, SBI stressed the importance of providing frictionless instant services at the convenience and flexibility of the channel preferred by the customer. He talked about the need for contextual-based customer services and efficient communication/notification. System processes have to be optimised and Re-engineered to improve the overall efficiency of the Bank. Balaji highlighted the significance of using tools that can manage these communications both in real-time and asynchronous processes.

Kunal Dhingra, CTO, of RBL Bank addressed the challenges of emerging technologies like AI and blockchain in the context of orchestration and automation. He humorously highlighted the cyclic nature of technology adoption, emphasising the importance of avoiding piecemeal automation efforts. Dhingra noted a prevalent issue at the board level, where each department pursues its own agenda without holistic alignment. He stressed the significance of understanding the ground-level impact and suggested a return to grassroots thinking. Dhingra illustrated the need for technology to simplify processes, citing examples from HRMS and IoT. He cautioned against indiscriminate technology investments without a clear understanding of actual business needs, drawing on his diverse experiences across industries. 

Monish Parekh, VP of Technology Transformation, at HDFC Life highlighted the practical applications of AI in the insurance sector, particularly in distribution and internal operations. He discussed the significance of AI in streamlining the sales process, allowing agents to focus on selling rather than extensive paperwork. Monish also emphasised the role of AI in the employee-centric developer community, with tools like co-pilot-enhancing testing, test case emulation, and overall developer productivity. Additionally, he touched on the benefits of AI in underwriting, reducing human bias, and ensuring consistent results. The use of automation in claims processing, especially for low-ticket claims, was highlighted for faster turnaround times, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Future-Proofing with Automation: 

In recent years, automation has seen a significant boom due to heightened IT demands and limited resources. The COVID-19 pandemic further emphasised the necessity for businesses to adopt automation techniques to enhance workflow efficiency with the resources at hand. According to McKinsey, retailer automation investments are expected to drive considerable industry growth: the warehouse automation market will reach $51 billion by 2030, with a CAGR of 23%.

Balaji highlighted key points on application consolidation/ Simplification, process reengineering and building enterprise components for legacy banks. He emphasized the need to eliminate silos and adopt a unified API approach for better engagement. Modernization of Infra-structure & Applications is essential for the future. In terms of infrastructure, Balaji stressed the need for redundancy, resiliency and high availability at every component level. He advocated for Re-engineering /optimizing the underlying processes, containerization, and ensuring applications are cloud-native. The speaker also addressed the importance of standardizing the tools, process & automation. Integrated ITAM & ITSM process, integrated network, security and resiliency operations are vital for the pro-active & predictive analysis. Balaji emphasized continuous improvement in the modernization journey.

Dhingra emphasised the importance of data modernization, likening data to soil that requires proper cultivation for fruitful outcomes. He debunked the notion that data is oil and stressed the need for utilising data effectively. Dhingra highlighted the role of data in digital transformation and foresees a shift towards a restaurant model, where consumers access what they want rather than a predefined buffet. He expressed the need for simplification of processes and emphasised the customer's choice in reaching service providers, foreseeing a move away from predefined channels to a more flexible approach.

Parekh offered a contrarian perspective on the widespread adoption of microservices, questioning the necessity of transforming every application and advising a thoughtful evaluation, particularly for systems like HRMS. He emphasised the importance of creating an inventory, identifying tech debt, and applying the right framework and architecture. Regarding the initiatives for 2024–2025, he highlighted the need to assess every layer, from engagement to system of record, viewing it as an automation journey that requires a phased approach aligned with organisational readiness. The ongoing process was portrayed as a logical progression rather than a sudden, comprehensive change, emphasising the need to prioritise initiatives based on organisational appetite and effective change management.

Curzi summarised the panel session, highlighting key topics such as microservices, cloud-native approaches, and automation challenges faced by enterprises. Francesca extended gratitude for the insightful discussions and looked forward to the HCLSoftware view as a solution to the identified challenges.


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