When we compared survey results from these two groups, we discovered that automation leaders have a starkly different mindset when it comes to deploying automation in their organization. And this mindset translates to greater success across a variety of metrics.
Leaders target strategic automation goals.
When asked about their top goals for automation, those surveyed listed many of the traditional, well-understood benefits of the technology, including increased efficiency, time savings, cost savings, and faster processing.
However, once we divided responses between the automation leaders and slow adopters groups, key differences emerged. While the responses from slow adopters largely aligned with that traditional approach of implementing automation to achieve tactical, day-to-day operational objectives, leaders viewed their target automation outcomes very differently.
Automation leaders cited revenue growth, increased efficiency, digital transformation, and better customer service/outcomes as their top goals for automation, by a wide margin. These objectives are clearly aligned with higher-level business objectives and reflect a deeper understanding of the organization’s strategic goals, and how automation tools, when used properly, can help drive the enterprise forward.
Although “increased efficiency” was named as a top goal by respondents in both groups, we believe leaders and slow adopters diverge in how they define efficiency. Slow adopters view efficiency as a tactical end unto itself, but for leaders, improving efficiency in the form of higher worker productivity, faster processing, and time savings is simply a means to an end. Leaders recognize that getting time back through automation allows staff and management to focus their efforts on higher-level, more strategic, and growth-oriented initiatives to drive the business forward.
Leaders use similar automation tools but differently.
We asked financial services executives what types of automation tools they use in their operations, and responses ranged from simple, basic schedulers to more advanced technologies like workload automation and robotic process automation.
Although respondents across the spectrum use a diverse array of automation tools, we found that automation leaders are employing these solutions much differently—and more effectively—than their peers.
For example, we compared how the usage of integration platform as a service (iPaaS)—an emerging solution that applies event-driven automation for workflows across disparate systems—differs between automation leaders and slow adopters. Leaders spent more on this tool, at a median range of $100,000 to $250,000 each year, versus only $25,000 to $50,000 for slow adopters. And they are achieving a much greater return, citing an average satisfaction level of 8.64, versus just 7.02 for the slow adopters. It comes as no surprise that automation leaders cited digital transformation as their top goal for deploying iPaaS in their operations—clearly, it’s a strategic objective.
Leaders don’t view prioritizing automation as a challenge.
When it comes to deploying automation throughout the enterprise, all executives face challenges. In this way, it’s no different than implementing and integrating any new software solution.
However, we uncovered some divergence in the specific challenges cited by automation leaders and slow adopters and how they overcome these pain points.
Whereas slow adopters reported “other priorities” as one of their top challenges in implementing automation, leaders cited a “previous bad experience.”
This tells us that slow adopters have not aligned their automation goals with broader business objectives, forcing them to regularly shift focus to other priorities. In contrast, leaders view automation as a priority because they’ve clearly connected it to the firm’s strategic goals.
Leaders are much more willing to experiment with various automation solutions and vendors, and will try implementing automation to address very specific problems in their organization. They understand that automation is critical to their organization’s long-term success, and they won’t let a single less-than-ideal experience hold them back from achieving their automation goals.
Successful comprehensive automation requires a long-term commitment, rather than a “one and done” project mindset.
Leaders commit to continuous investment in automation.
To the previous point, automation leaders are committed to their automation goals and will invest the time, resources, and funding to achieve them.
Nearly four out of five (79%) automation leaders surveyed spent $250,000 or more in 2023, and three in four intend to spend more over the next 12 months. It’s clear that leaders are successful at obtaining budget for their automation initiatives because they understand and can clearly articulate to the C-suite and in the boardroom how automation is an effective solution that will help the organization meet its strategic business goals.
Those that do more with automation get more.
Of course, financial services is a bottom-line business, and ROI is one of the most critical metrics for any IT investment.
Our research found that automation leaders achieve a significantly higher level of return on their automation investments, with 69% realizing cost savings of $100,000 or more each year, as compared with just 41% of slow adopters reaching that level.