Overcoming Common Industry Challenges With Intelligent Automated Solutions

The future of organizational growth and efficiency

In the rapidly evolving world of document management, workflow automation and technology, the landscape is constantly shifting beneath our feet. To keep a pulse on trends and solutions to overcome business challenges, many leaders look to the most influential research and consulting firms for guidance. Each year, industry trends are published, and in 2024, it’s clear that automation will be top of mind for leadership across many industries.

Although departments within different sectors can leverage automation and technology for similar tasks, each industry or vertical has common needs that can be overcome with intelligent automated solutions. Intelligent automated solutions refer to a category of tools and services that streamline operations, address labor shortages and increases in cost and can afford excellent opportunities to provide a better experience for staff, customers and constituents.

This year, there is a tremendous opportunity for leaders to embrace intelligent automated solutions that can power organizational growth and efficiency. A survey we recently conducted with finance and IT leaders of healthcare, manufacturing and finance organizations indicated the majority are planning on embracing solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI), generative AI (Gen AI) and robotic process automation (RPA), just to name a few, and will be consistently looking at building up their automation to positively impact the organization and deliver excellent customer service.

These solutions redefine how to communicate and collaborate within an organization and with those they serve, bring newfound speed, efficiency and capability to ingest, share and process information.

Addressing the rising costs of traditional operations

A driving force behind adopting intelligent automated solutions is to improve productivity to outpace rising costs. The Productivity and Costs Fourth Quarter 2023 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that during 2023, the unit labor costs and hourly compensation in the nonfarm business sector increased by 2.3% and 1.8% respectively. At the same time, productivity only grew by 1.2%. These statistics underscore the importance of becoming more efficient to drive profitability and overcome the deficit between costs and productivity.

Rising costs can hinder growth and competitiveness. However, even with a higher upfront investment cost, it is typically a smart strategic decision to outsource specific tedious and repetitive tasks. Outsourcing tasks can help get the work done more efficiently than asking your current staff to do more, or trying to find staff during a tight labor market. Making transformative changes to your operations like this will help make them less labor-intensive, more efficient and more adaptable to the demands of the digital age.

Enhancing data governance and compliance with intelligent  automated solutions

Regardless of the industry or sector, data governance and compliance are crucial foundations for every organization. When thinking about process improvement, intelligent automated solutions cannot only help, but ensure adherence to rules and regulations.

Data governance establishes a structured framework to manage data throughout its lifecycle. This framework includes policies, procedures and defined roles to ensure data quality, integrity and security. Effective data governance not only improves decision-making processes but also mitigates the risks of data breaches, unauthorized access and misuse.

Similarly, compliance with regulatory requirements is imperative for businesses operating in any industry. Each industry is subject to specific regulations governing data collection, storage and usage from healthcare to finance, or from retail to manufacturing. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to severe consequences, including hefty fines, legal actions and reputational damage. Therefore, robust data governance practices and compliance measures are indispensable for safeguarding sensitive information, fostering stakeholder trust and sustaining business continuity in an increasingly data-driven world.

Intelligent automated solutions play a vital role in ensuring the security and compliance of data. By automating processes and enforcing rules and regulations, these solutions provide organizations with a powerful tool to maintain data integrity and mitigate risks.

Streamlined and outsourced services replace paper-initiated processes

Even with today’s focus on technology, many organizations’ processes begin with paper. That includes incoming mail that arrives daily or documents received – paper still exists. Business process outsourcing (BPO), also known as outsourced scanning services, convert paper files into digital files to be more easily accessible.

BPO scanning services can free up the time people take to open the mail, manually enter the information from the document into your line of business solutions and free up space by removing filing cabinets and paper files throughout your office and within storage. The resulting digital documents can be easily accessed using intelligent automated solutions, which enable you to easily store, search for and retrieve data and documents with a simple search within a central repository. Gone are the days of shuffling through paperwork in a cabinet or file folder.

Provide top-tier customer and public services

Serving your customer or the public can be challenging, especially when your staff spends excessive time on manual or paper-based processes. Time-consuming processes can cause backlogs, bottlenecks and data silos that lead to low productivity, poor constituent service delivery and eventually, frustrated customers or citizens.

AI-enhanced workflows are essential to streamlining manual and repetitive processes within your department or agency. Leveraging AI to capture and extract critical data from key documents can reduce the amount of manual data entry done by your staff. Compared to manual data entry, there’s no doubt that an intelligent solution is better at gleaning accurate data from the document and routing it to the next step, helping you boost your productivity.

Enhance engagement and accessibility with portal solutions

Another way to improve your efficiency, reduce costs and enhance the overall digital experience for those you serve is with the help of portal solutions. These are solutions designed to decrease administrative burden and improve engagement by providing digital portals that enable two-way information sharing between the two parties. These solutions are secure, accessible, WCAG 2.1 (Section 508) compliant web interfaces, and offer 24/7 access with a responsive mobile experience.

Within a portal solution, you can leverage user-friendly and accessible web forms to enable customers or constituents to submit a request and then route the submission to your existing or new systems. This eliminates the need for manual data entry and decreases the chances of errors, ultimately saving time and resources. Additionally, portal solutions can also provide self-service options, such as checking the status of a request or making updates to their information.

Moreover, portal solutions often come with analytics capabilities that allow you to track user activity and gather valuable insights into how those you serve are digitally interacting with your organization. These insights can help inform future strategic decisions.

Drive collaboration and efficiency with case management solutions

Case management solutions facilitate seamless communication, task allocation and information sharing among team members by centralizing and streamlining the management of cases. Through integrated communication channels, such as chat features or discussion forums, stakeholders can collaborate in real time, exchange updates and resolve issues promptly, thereby fostering a culture of teamwork and synergy.

These intelligent solutions also leverage automation and workflow optimization to enhance efficiency. They enable the automation of repetitive tasks, such as data entry or document processing, freeing up valuable time for staff to focus on higher-value activities. Additionally, these solutions offer customizable workflows that align with specific business processes, ensuring standardized procedures and reducing the likelihood of errors or delays.

By providing visibility into the status of cases and performance metrics, such as turnaround time or resolution rates, these solutions empower organizations to identify bottlenecks, optimize resource allocation and continuously improve operational efficiency. So by harnessing the power of intelligent automation, these organizations will achieve overall greater productivity and satisfaction levels.

Efficiently accomplish repetitive tasks with RPA

RPA is another innovative automation technology that is making a significant impact on many industries, particularly healthcare. RPA involves using software robots — or “bots” — to automate repetitive and manual tasks, such as manual data entry and claims processing, freeing up staff to focus on more complex and critical tasks.

In the healthcare industry, overcoming challenges in accounts payable is a primary driving factor, followed by billing and patient services. In addition, organizations are piloting automation in pharmacies to track and monitor inventory and seamlessly process the request to fulfillment, helping to document the entire process and provide an audit trail.

Another driving factor of investing in RPA is to reduce the number of mundane tasks each staff member does on a day-to-day basis. AI-enhanced workflows are one way that organizations are helping to accomplish this goal. Organizations that are further along in their adoption of RPA and automation are developing their Center of Excellence (CoE) to gain even greater efficiencies. 

The shift toward intelligent automation, digital document management and business process outsourcing is an undeniable reality. With the proper guidance and support, this shift becomes an opportunity for organizations to become more efficient, innovate, grow and excel. Embracing digital transformation with a trusted advisor means adapting and thriving in change to help you overcome industry challenges with intelligent automated solutions.  

Ron Thompson Jr.

Ron Thompson Jr. is Vice President & General Manager, Intelligent Information Management, Konica Minolta.