Is Change Worth It? Assessing the Risk and Rewards of Implementing Workflow Automation Tools

Change, such as implementing workflow automation tools, involves risk and reward.

There is risk and reward involved in any type of strategic change. The ability to accurately assess risk, and make the right choices to maximize rewards, can be the leadership factor that differentiates a successful company from one that becomes irrelevant. When approaching digital transformation and considering workflow automation tools, big data, and other Industry 4.0 technologies, it’s important for leaders to cultivate self-awareness about their personal risk framework as well as about the potential rewards latent in the adoption of workflow automation tools and other business technology.

Assessing your personal risk framework regarding digital transformation and workflow automation tools

As business leaders and decision-makers strive to make objectively correct strategic decisions, it’s important to assess the factors that may cloud objectivity or lead to unnecessarily conservative approaches to new technology. 

The Economist notes that at the outset of Industrialism, groups including the Luddites, Romantics, and socialists worried that the new way of life would spell the end of craftsmanship, the beauty of the natural world, and force people to toil away in “smoke-belching mills.” However, Industrialism eventually led to increased education and life-saving discoveries in science. They argue that “history still argues, on the whole, for optimism.”

Related: Common examples of workflow automation

What are the risks of change?

Change does entail leaving the known, and entering the unknown. Many efforts toward digital transformation fail. The World Economic Forum’s report on The Digital Enterprise delineates 8 early-stage failure patterns of digital transformation, as: 

1 – Many enablers with unclear business value 

2 – Experimenting with many apps without effective enablers

3 – Gaps in investment that leave holes in strategy

4 – Range of small investments without overarching strategy

5 – Short-term investments without long-term vision

6 – Far-sighted investments without short-term impact

7 – Overly centralized “Big Brother” style, lines of business are not empowered 

8 – Excessive decentralization with duplicate investments

While the risks of change are real, the risks of not changing are greater. 

What are the risks of not changing? 

In addition to the perceived or emotional risk of transitioning from the known into the unknown, there are immediately tangible risks and uncertainties of adopting a new strategy, process, or technology. The risks of not changing has plagued man for hundreds of years. Take the Victorian carriage-driver in London who had to ask himself whether he should risk trading in his trusted Hackneys to invest in one of these new-fangled Daimler “taxis”. Will this taxi cab need maintenance? Will he be able to learn auto maintenance to replace the curry comb and hoof-pick? What if the thing falls apart, once the carriage has already been sold? The man likes driving the carriage, and he has his family to care for. 

Likewise, business leaders and decision-makers have the immediate and long-term fiscal well-being of their organization’s employees to consider, and must legitimately consider what they risk losing, any time a significant transformational strategy, process, or technology change is to be made. However, the risks of not changing are also the same as the carriage-driver in Victorian London who sells his Hackneys for a Daimler cab. Within a few years, cabs would proliferate, and carriage-driving would eventually become defunct except as a novelty, just as iTunes has replaced the cassette tape. Unless your enterprise strives to shift its business model to focus on the nostalgic analogue novelty market niche (and which customer doesn’t long for the era of impersonal customer service and long service wait times? The days of listening to jazzy hold tones while waiting for approval processes or product support?), then introducing digital transformation technologies, such as workflow automation tools, cannot be a question of if, but when. 

Risks for Businesses who do not adopt new technologies:

  • Failing to live up to contemporary customer expectations
  • Losing market share to innovators
  • Becoming an undesirably outdated workplace
  • Wasted time and money
  • Processes become unsustainable in contemporary competitive environment
  • Change is more costly and complex later, as processes continue to scale and systems grow older

For example, digital competition for traditional credit approval processes

One example of an industry (besides bed-and-breakfasts or movie rental stores), where traditional providers may soon be overtaken and made irrelevant by the competition is credit approval. Fintech has enabled a much faster, mobile credit approval process, and new credit cards like the Apple use automation to approve or deny credit in a matter of minutes. The risk of not getting on board with data and workflow automation tools in this sector is that customers will simply begin to find your offering irrelevant. 

How can you confidently make successful changes? 

The 8 points listed above delineate how change can fail; so what is the right approach to make change succeed? 

  1. New technologies such as workflow automation tools offer more return when deployed in unison, rather than as disparate point solutions. 
  2. Enablers such as integration and workflow automation tools are necessary to make the SaaS ecosystem work. 
  3. Lines of business need to be empowered in the integration and automation process without being excessively decentralized, and the system needs to be centrally governable by IT. 

When the competition is laying a strong foundation of enterprise application integration with iPaaS, and automating data flow, business processes, and workflows, your organization needs to stay in step with or ahead of this trajectory. Though adopting SaaS applications is an important step, solutions (SaaS apps) without enablers (iPaaS and workflow automation tools), will lead to a fragmented approach. Changes should be implemented strategically and cohesively, with the end-goal clearly envisioned. 

Though adopting SaaS applications is an important step, solutions (SaaS apps) without enablers (iPaaS and workflow automation tools), will lead to a fragmented approach. Share on X

Taking steps toward successful transformation with workflow automation tools

Workato is an enterprise automation platform that allows organizations to implement a strong foundation of enterprise application integration in tandem with data flow, business process, and workflow automation. To learn more, request a demo from our team.