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Driving Business Transformation With Analytic Process Automation

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Many companies recognize the need to upskill their entire workforce and harness data and advanced analytics to drive business outcomes. Getting to that point is the challenge.

A recently commissioned Forrester Opportunity Snapshot surveying global business leaders highlights the challenges organizations face. The main culprits blocking companies from tackling their biggest analytics issues include silos, inadequate data literacy across the organization, and a lack of data democratization. People are unable to get their hands on the data they need and, even if they do, they’re still bogged down by day-, week-, and months-long processes.

What’s more, companies know these limitations inhibit their ability to remain competitive, forcing employees to work longer, less efficiently, and lean on gut feelings for crucial decisions. As they fight both internal analytics infrastructure issues and a workforce lacking in data skills, their insights-driven counterparts continue to outperform them.

Refreshing Outcomes

Coca-Cola faced a similar situation before laying out a roadmap to business transformation. They identified the same problems as everyone else. They also identified a better solution.

In August, the global beverage company rolled out a new networked operating model that placed data analytics at the core. It was the next step in their multi-year business transformation process to decentralize and democratize data and analytics — and ultimately put insights into the hands of employees who could use them to make better, faster decisions.

To make this happen, they deployed Analytic Process Automation (APA). The results speak for themselves:

  • Coca-Cola now pulls hourly data from many disparate sources and enterprise systems.
  • Coca-Cola, its bottlers, and their top retail customers audit results in minutes, using analytics, data science, and process automation to inform proper stocking, merchandising, and sales strategies.
  • Supply chain managers move product faster, with smarter warehousing strategies.
  • Advertising and marketing departments get more immediate campaign feedback.
  • Financial leaders automated financial processes, accelerating the flow of information rapidly back through the organization to achieve efficiencies.
  • Restaurant owners get predictive soda fountain maintenance, a locally targeted mix of beverage flavors, and personalized reports to optimize inventory.

Analytics-led transformations like Coca-Cola’s are the driving force of modern business. They harness the superabundant amount of data available and accelerate your ability to analyze it and hand the reins to the people in the front lines of your organizations. While point solutions can still serve individual roles in companies (such as RPA for automating data scraping), Analytic Process Automation converges all of them (data, processes, and people). This categorical shift in technology flips the business decision-making model from data-focused to outcome-focused, delivering deeper impact.

The Forrester Opportunity Snapshot mentioned earlier bears this out, too. In a survey of global business leaders, those using end-to-end analytics process technology reported seeing substantial business benefits, with the top three being improved decision-making, a better ability to plan for the future, and greater access to data.

Analytics-led transformations are the driving force of modern business.

What makes APA different is that it works outside-in and bottom-up, placing the focus on business outcomes and the people on the front lines, instead of starting with a dataset and a highly trained specialist. It takes a historically cumbersome process and makes it easy — which is why adoption in marketing departments, supply chains, finance functions, and other lines of business is accelerating. (As of this writing, more than 6,955 organizations, including 38% of the Global 2000, use Analytic Process Automation to automate analytics, data science, and data-driven processes.)

With subject matter experts from lines of business at the wheel, the focus shifts. Business outcomes come first. Gone are the half-measures based on data-first approaches. You know, the ones that make you leverage dubious insights out of whatever information you can scrape together.

What’s at Work with APA

  • People on the front lines get access to relevant information at their fingertips. APA makes data readily available in one view from all manner of internal and external sources.
  • Everyone in the company can make data-based decisions — often in hours, not days. APA platforms automate the preparation and analysis of data and delivery of insights to people and applications, liberating data manipulation from the domains of information technology specialists, data scientists, and data analysts.
  • Analyzing data becomes as familiar as drag-and-drop, click-and-run. APA presents all your employees with intuitive, engaging ways of applying data-driven insights to business outcomes.
  • An end-to-end, self-service platform replaces disconnected point solutions requiring advanced training and manual handoffs. Many tools today are niche point solutions and/or require advanced knowledge to use. They can take months to implement and realize transformational impact, and often early results are not easily scalable, repeatable, or automated.

In addition to democratizing data and analytics and automating data-driven processes, APA drives the upskilling of our growing leagues of data decision-makers, breaking through a persistent choke point in business transformation. In the Forrester Opportunity Snapshot cited above, business leaders named employee data literacy as the top challenge in their data and analytics programs.

“Data and analytics programs suffer from silos, inadequate data literacy across the organization, and a lack of data democratization. Addressing these issues is key to accelerating business outcomes.”

—Forrester Opportunity Snapshot: “Data and Analytics: The Key to Driving the Business During Challenging Times”, A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Alteryx

What Happens When You Put Business Outcomes First?

Organizations of all sizes around the globe are delivering business impact by putting APA to work. Here are just a few more examples:

  • PwC US has been extending Analytic Process Automation across its staff, recognizing results from productivity gains, new revenue streams, and a firm-wide data culture that executives say is winning in the competition for talent.
  • Athletics retailer Gymshark uses APA to pull raw data from customer touchpoints, centralize it in an analytics database, gain insights on what’s happening across different channels in 131 countries, and get a complete view of its customer.
  • Brookson, a financial services company, is seeing significant upskilling and automation results across the business, supporting 15,000 customers with real-time, automated financial and tax advice. “We recognized that we couldn’t teach our traditional developers accountancy but knew that we could get experienced accountants to execute advanced analytics [with Analytic Process Automation],” said Brian Milrine, Business Strategy Director.

Along with these success stories, we’ve also seen an organic grocer achieve 757% efficiency gains through pricing optimization, standardization, and more timely deliveries. A major retailer registered top-line growth of $1.5 billion, with daily merchandising optimization across all products in more than 2,000 stores. And an airline we’ve worked with tapped $80 million by discovering unused rewards in its customer loyalty program.

Most organizations aren’t as far into their transformations as the examples above. But when surveyed by Forrester, about half of companies that have begun deploying APA said they have already seen improvements in such critical areas as their decision-making capabilities and their ability to plan for the future.

That can translate into remarkable business capabilities across industry sectors and business functions. Here are three examples:

  1. Customer acquisition: Customer capture-to-close automation uses customer-targeting data science, micro-segmentation, and predictive conversion to trigger daily action.
  2. Logistics: Routing-to-delivery automation uses route optimization, geospatial analytics, and on-time delivery analytics to keep supply chain operations running 24/7.
  3. Sales: Price-to-placement automation involves forecasting, price optimization, and supply chain automation for everyday in-store merchandising requirements.

A Culture of Upskilling

Forrester’s research found companies are struggling to apply data and analytics across their business. Two-thirds called digital literacy an area of needed improvement due to poorly integrated tools and limitations. APA is transforming workforces as it’s transforming business, and for many top executives, it can’t happen fast enough.

Data Isn’t the Problem; People Are

The top two challenges decision-makers cited are people-based: a lack of employees with data skill sets and a lack of skills among business users who must use insights from data.

—Forrester Opportunity Snapshot: “Data and Analytics: The Key to Driving the Business During Challenging Times”, A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Alteryx

People Are Also the Solution

APA is helping usher in a culture of upskilling that puts the power in the hands of your people. Upskilling can help discerning data-driven businesses build an internal pool of talented data workers who have the skills, desire, knowledge, and analytical skills to be successful. These programs, while future-proofing your growth, are lifelines for employees.

The Takeaway

Companies large and small are recognizing the power that’s unleashed as APA converges data, process, and people. Coca-Cola and others have already started. It’s an encouraging sign for others who are looking for the solution to bring everything together and creative a competitive business.

Read This Next.

With APA’s convergence of data, process, and people, transformation is now.

Read more in Forrester’s new report: “.”forrester-opportunity-snapshot

Written By
Shane Remer
Shane Remer
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