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  • Writer's pictureOliver Nowak

Automation with a Purpose

In the ServiceNow space we talk a lot about digital transformation. But why are we interested in digital transformation?

We care about it, not because we care about the mechanics of computers or the intricacies of code, fundamentally, we care about technology because we see the potential it has to revolutionise human experiences. We are interested in digital transformation with ServiceNow because we are interested in transforming experiences for customers and employees.

Automation has been identified by many companies as central to that word ‘transformation’. The majority of ServiceNow customers that I speak to talk about wanting to leverage automation. But are they automating with a purpose?

Most of us are tech-savvy enough to understand the benefits of automation. Take a manual, repeatable process and get technology to handle it, rather than a human being. But can we confidently say that that approach is delivering quality, efficient transformation? In most cases, again, it’s very clear and very tangible how a process is running better than it was before, but is it resulting in a better experience?

So, let’s take a step back first. We’re talking about automating processes, but do we know enough about what processes are? It’s at this point in my research that I hit upon a new term that I’ve heard a little here and there about but nothing in detail – process mining.

At its core a business process is a structured set of activities that lead to an outcome. Let’s take a simple example, when an employee orders a new laptop a long list of activities are triggered to provide that individual with a new one. Those activities are the process.

But how do we got about improving the laptop request process to create a better experience? First, we have to understand the process in more detail. We have to understand how people are interacting with it to understand the experience it’s creating. That’s process mining.

It starts with a fundamental part of modern IT infrastructure – event logs. During the process of requesting a new laptop, that individual is likely to interact with the system in many different ways, through a chatbot like ServiceNow’s Virtual Agent or by posting a comment on the ticket. Every time they do, event log data is generated. These event logs create a record of all activities that take place between the ServiceNow platform and the individual to create a detailed model of the laptop request process.

So now, let’s multiply that across the business for every individual who requests a new laptop. Now we’re armed with a huge list of event logs that we can use to gain an understanding of how people are interacting with the laptop request process in real-time. From here, we can identify any inefficiencies, bottlenecks, or other problems which are negatively impacting the experience for both your end-users and your fulfillers alike.

Now this is just a simple example, but it carries a powerful point on its shoulders. So many organisations spend far too much time buying new tools or trying to completely revolutionise their IT infrastructure from the ground up when truly the secret lies in the detail, or in the processes. Put a bad process into a great technology and your technology becomes bad. Put a great process into a mediocre technology and your technology becomes exceptional.

So, what’s the takeaway?

Start simple.

Can you confidently say you understand the detail behind how people interact with your processes?

Do you think about automation at the tool-level or at the process-level?

Just for fun, pick a simple and innocuous process and have a mine, you might be amazed what you find!

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