VentureBeat: Why Process Mining is Seeing Triple-Digit Growth

ISO 9000 is a set of standards for quality management developed in the late 80s. It was based on procurement standards used by the U.S. Department of Defense. But, in a long-ago training session, the entire premise was summed up by the instructor as, “Document what you do, then do what you’ve documented.”

The reasons those types of programs exist is because the documented process is rarely the actual process. But today, given the massive scale and breadth of change over the past year, it’s likely many of your processes have been altered in one way or another. In fact, a survey by McKinsey found that organizations have accelerated their digitization efforts by three to four years during the pandemic. So, before enterprises can change, improve, digitize, or automate a process, it’s imperative they first understand what’s really going on. 

A recent article in VentureBeat, “Why process mining is seeing triple-digit growth”, points to the past year’s massive change, along with many other factors, as what’s driving explosive demand for process mining tools and technologies. Gartner estimates that the market for these solutions has already tripled since 2018, and there’s more to come. Here’s a quick overview of why, according to VentureBeat.

RPA Isn’t Living Up to Expectations

Robotic process automation (RPA) initiatives and their expected ROI are based on the underlying process. Saving an hour per day for a documented process completed by your expensive procurement team could generate a nice return, for example. But, if Procurement is, in reality, already working around the systems and tasks that slowed them down, the return could be considerably lower, or it could even cost you money. Or, maybe that entire process is done differently in other regions or isn’t really valuable for Procurement, so you’ve spent money automating a bad process you’ll eventually need to spend more money to rework.

Companies are now finding that, in their haste to automate, they neither understood the actual process nor developed an optimized, scalable process built for their current needs. As the article states, “Many enterprises are finding it difficult to scale beyond a few software robots or bots because they are automating a bad process that cannot scale.”

Process intelligence, however, is giving enterprises detailed information on why their RPA isn’t driving more value. It’s also giving visibility to the true as-is processes, how they vary across the business, and where optimizations might make those processes better well before RPA is considered. 

Download our ebook: 6 Strategies to Drive Successful Automation

Benefits Beyond Simple Process Mining

Process mining, which “involves mining data logs from applications like ERP and CRM to assemble an accurate model of how a business process, like order to cash (OTC), works,” is inherently limited. Many tools in modern enterprises, such as Microsoft Office, virtual desktops, and email, don’t produce data logs. Process intelligence, or what VentureBeat refers to as “task mining,” uses computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) to directly record how a worker accomplishes any given task.

See our related post: What is Process Intelligence?

Since process intelligence doesn’t rely on data logs, it can capture more data from more applications, but also how today’s workers jump between applications. For example, maybe the OTC process requires a clerk to copy order data from an ERP system and paste it into an invoicing system, which then generates a PDF invoice that’s manually emailed to a vendor. Process mining would likely capture the ERP and invoicing logs, but process intelligence would provide insights across the end-to-end process and all applications, including the manually created email. 

Those cross-application actions are more indicative of how today’s workers work, and that’s the level of data enterprises are now demanding. Process intelligence adds AI and ML to uncover the nuance of processes and surface opportunities to optimize before you might apply RPA to automate suboptimal subtasks. 

New Applications Across the Enterprise

The inclusion of advanced AI and ML, along with the benefits of the cloud, enables enterprises of any size to quickly capture and evaluate data on enterprise-scale processes. But it’s not just limited to processes, per se, since other insights can be gleaned from knowing how your enterprise operates today and at a detailed level. VentureBeat calls it “a new sensory system for organizations.”

“In the ecology of companies battling for market share, a company with even a primitive capability of seeing invisible workflows better than the competition has a huge advantage over companies that cannot see. As Erasmus stated in 1500 AD: ‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.’”

Some examples of these in-demand capabilities of process intelligence include:

  • Understanding and mitigating complex cybersecurity threats
  • Optimizing the physical logistics of warehousing
  • Improving manufacturing processes
  • Breaking down organizational silos
  • Reducing training time
  • Identifying the root cause of quality issues

It’s also being used to enhance how humans work, such as increasing safety and automatically altering workers when steps are missed by mistake. So while the word “automation” may sound like jobs are at risk, one of the most human benefits of process intelligence is in making humans better at how they work. 

“Rather than just looking at process mining as something to impose on workers, companies may see the biggest gains by finding ways to include and reward employees as part of the adoption. After all, thousands of eyes in the field may see some opportunities that a few experts in the office might miss.”

You can read the complete VentureBeat article here.

Your Checklist to Answer, “Should We Automate That?”

Every enterprise is under pressure to accelerate growth, find efficiencies, increase productivity, and do it all while working remotely. Customers are also demanding more speed and greater value at less cost, while suppliers want streamlined invoicing, delivery, quality control, and other processes. It’s pushing your digital transformation efforts to their limits, especially as more of your internal stakeholders assume automation is as easy as flipping a switch. 

Process automation is a highly-efficient, high-ROI, and proven tactic for digital transformation. But you can’t just assume every process is ripe for automation. Before selecting a process for automation, you must understand that process in great detail. What are the inputs and desired outputs? What are the expected steps? What are the actual steps taken by workers? Which systems and data are involved? What would an ideal process look like? And that’s just scratching the surface. 

To help you answer questions and guide your process automation efforts, we’ve developed a new checklist: Should My Enterprise Automate That?

This checklist helps you create an enterprise-wide strategy for successful process automation. It’s built on a foundation of first discovering candidates for enterprise process automation in a fast and efficient manner. Then, it explains how deep, granular process data is needed to decode and document the intricacies behind how your business actually works. Finally, it provides a guide to determine which processes are ideal candidates for automation and how you can track, measure, and ensure the success of every process automation effort. 

Should My Enterprise Automate That? is an automation-centric checklist to align your process automation goals with the realities of your workplace operations. The checklist covers four key areas of enterprise process automation exploration:

  1. Process complexity
  2. Mission criticality of target processes
  3. Key success metrics
  4. Importance of detailed process documentation

Download this new infographic-style checklist today and get started on your path to successful enterprise process automation. 

Don’t Create a Monster, Create a Beast

Halloween is right around the corner, and nothing is scarier than transforming your enterprise into a Frankenstein of incompatible tools and techniques. 

You started with the best intentions. You thought you chose the right tools, most attractive processes, and the best minds. 

But you soon found the amalgamation birthed a hideous creature of stitched-together processes, disconnected guidance, and opposing insights. It’s turned your transformation into a nightmare of rotting results, festering budgets, and decaying productivity. Instead of electrifying your enterprise with new life, you’ve created a monster.

Download the full infographic

Consultant’s Brain

Consultants are the experts, and you would expect them to be the brains behind your transformation. But they’re working with limited resources and time, trying to capture process details and then extrapolating anecdotes across your organization. They’re bound to miss things, which leaves your project wandering between options and never really making transformational impacts.

Miner’s Arm

Process mining and discovery techniques are slow, expensive, and highly manual. It’s an outdated approach that only captures a slice of a process based on how users interact with one system. It limits your coverage, misses steps performed in separate applications, and could pull your transformation in the wrong direction.

Software’s Arm

Digging for process details via APIs requires even more connections with IT, developers, and application vendors. It adds time and expense to your transformation project, and even more opportunities for messages to get lost and connections to break. Plus, each application requires a separate API connection, delivers data in different formats, and forces you to manually reconnect and reanimate the insights, adding even more delays.

Data Guts

Most companies truly don’t understand how they operate on a granular user level, and this lack of current state understanding is a major roadblock to transformation success. Process Intelligence helps eliminate nightmares by efficiently creating a dataset of user activity not previously available to kickstart strategic initiatives. Convert your process problems into big data solutions.

Bot’s Leg

RPA is great, but every organization struggles with scaling programs. Process assessment and prioritization delays development. Vendors have promoted screen recorders for task discovery, but they fail to scale and actually create more rework than traditional methods. Scary indeed. The only real answer to scaling your RPA program is adopting real process intelligence. Deploying FortressIQ means rapid assessments, and finding automation opportunities at scale

App’s Leg

Know what’s really scary?Most enterprise processes–especially the valuable ones–require workers to hop between software, move data across screens, or use multiple apps simultaneously. Trying to combine those steps into a coherent process using just log files and APIs is a recipe for disaster. Process Intelligence can give you the insights to start correcting the issue so you can understand today to improve tomorrow.

Stop the Madness! Turn Your Enterprise into a Beast

FortressIQ goes way beyond all of these scary, cobbled-together options to capture every step of every process, without expensive and disconnected tools pulling you in different directions. It brings your transformation to life with real-time, end-to-end process insights captured with DNA-level analytics across all applications, departments, and processes.

Don’t let your transformation turn into a monster. Use FortressIQ to make data-driven decisions that successfully propel your enterprise into tomorrow.

Modernizing Corporate Compliance Programs with Data Analytics Tools

Incorporating data-driven capabilities into corporate compliance programs speeds response, extends coverage, and eliminates bias. But despite the value added by operational data, the pace of adoption has been glacial. That may be changing, however, courtesy of an unexpected stakeholder: the government. The result is that, as companies are scrambling to meet these new compliance expectations, they are finding surprising benefits.

Nudging Compliance to be Data Driven

This past summer, the U.S. Department of Justice instructed its prosecutors to ask companies under investigation whether their compliance teams have access to data. If so, they’re further asked if it is being used to test policies and monitor for risks. The authorities have even shown a willingness to cut penalties for companies that have implemented data analytics or monitoring tools into their compliance programs. This bias towards leniency is a major incentive for compliance officers to explore solutions that can provide access to financial and operational data.

While other parts of the businesses, most notably Sales and Finance, have long used data to drive decision-making, the adoption of analytics tools in Compliance has been slow. Budgets are often a constraint, but there is also the cultural issue of not wanting to uncover unknown issues.

Companies should be embracing the shift, however, and not only because data-driven companies tend to outperform their peers. According to Forrester Consulting, businesses that rely on data management tools to make decisions are 58% more likely to beat their revenue goals than non-data driven companies, and they see an 8% boost in customer trust. The benefits are clear and compelling.

Compliance-Centric Analytics Tools

One challenge for compliance officers in adopting data analytics tools is the lack of purpose-built solutions to support robust compliance programs. Some companies have begun the journey by simply hiring data scientists to support ad hoc exploration, or by tapping into a nascent market of third-party vendors with limited capabilities. A bespoke data analytics application may be appropriate, but it is a timely and costly proposition most companies are unwilling to tackle, instead preferring to delay implementation until solutions mature.

To help jumpstart compliance analytics programs, FortressIQ has adapted components of our next-generation cognitive process intelligence platform to serve customers today. The process archiving solution runs on-premise or in a virtual private cloud (VPC), and it can be up and running in less than 48 hours without any integrations. FortressIQ virtual agents are also non-intrusive, meaning they will not cause process disruptions or slowdowns due to network access or VPNs because they use very little bandwidth.

With FortressIQ, compliance officers can capture all the work happening right now and review it for insights when time or resources permit. They can also integrate FortressIQ insights into existing business intelligence platforms for broader and deeper analysis.

Automating Compliance in Our Current Reality

Today’s unprecedented business environment has forced organizations to adopt new distributed and remote work patterns at a breakneck pace, but that comes at the expense of existing compliance activities. Every organization has had to rewrite their playbook to deliver value in a new, uncertain world of broken supply chains, changing customer expectations, and evolving communication patterns. In addition, traditional compliance and process discovery methods in the form of on-site consultants or business analysts, which have typically been used to address strategic challenges, are currently not an option. That is especially true for those with a global, remote workforce.

Through trial-by-fire tactics, companies are triaging and re-engineering processes just to address the basic needs of their employees and customers. Countless hours, combined with trial and error, has enabled distributed teams to build tribal knowledge on new and innovative ways of delivery. But the need to overcome pandemic-induced obstacles has forced many companies to pause traditional compliance programs. That is unsustainable.

Anticipating that variations of today’s disrupted business environment will likely occur again, it is imperative that this business knowledge be converted into institutional comprehension. Compliance initiatives are an ideal starting point. And not just because of potential judicial leniency.

Guaranteeing Privacy in a Time of Unprecedented Uncertainty

Three years ago, we founded FortressIQ with the idea that by leveraging computer vision, we could radically transform the way organizations understand their processes, thus accelerating their transformation. A little over a year later, we released our process intelligence platform, which has been deployed across Global 2000 companies in diverse industry segments. At the same time, the pace at which computer vision has been advancing is nothing short of breathtaking, but with great power (AI) comes greater responsibility. At FortressIQ, we believe that if we invest tens of thousands of hours in improving computer vision, we also have an ethical and moral responsibility to address use cases that can abuse those same advances. With that in mind, today we’re releasing Privacy Enhanced Gateway (PEG), the world’s first adaptive and learning computer vision-based firewall. And to stand unambiguous in the belief that privacy is a human right and that organizations who create technology that has the potential for abuse have an obligation to provide solutions to that abuse, we are making Privacy Enhanced Gateway a standard part of our platform at no additional cost.

With the adoption of FortressIQ across major global enterprises collectively employing over 5 million people, there’s proof in the industry that computer vision-based process intelligence can deliver unprecedented levels of information, creating an entirely new category of data and insights. The need for process intelligence has only become more critical with current workforce upheaval caused by work from home orders, global supply chain disruptions, and ongoing uncertainty. Part of our mission is to expand the usage of process intelligence to improve outcomes across the enterprise and to mitigate external forces at play. But, to attain the level of ubiquity that we’re seeking, we can’t ignore the security and privacy concerns associated with large-scale deployment of computer vision-based applications.

The scale of a challenge created by AI can only be solved with AI. This is why we took our expertise in computer vision (object detection, scene text detection, and recognition), natural language understanding, and data mining and created PEG, the world’s first learning and adaptive computer vision-based firewall.

A core component of our Process Intelligence Platform is the software-based sensors that are deployed on an end user’s desktop or laptop. These sensors tap into the video card of the machine and create a low bandwidth video of all screen activity, which streams to our cloud, where we convert the unstructured video into a structured log file. While we are HIPPA, SOC II Type 2, and ISO 27001 compliant, the idea of streaming a user’s activity (with the associated data) to our cloud, proves to be challenging.

Privacy Enhanced Gateway essentially takes some of the core AI from our platform and allows it to run at the edge under customer control. It is packaged as a virtual appliance that can be deployed on-premise or within a customer’s VPC on the cloud provider of their choice. Any sensors deployed then connect to their private gateway, which redacts all customer information from the video stream before sending the data onto us.

The core of this technology is a joint AI model which has learned the individual types of objects which compose a software screen, and the meanings of their labels and values. We can determine every control, like a drop-down list box or radio button, the label for that control, along with the data within that control. We then can redact the data leaving only the empty software screen remaining, thus alleviating the challenge of protecting sensitive data.

Using PEG, our customers get the best of both worlds. They can leverage the scale, cost savings, and rapid advancement of our cloud-based platform with the security and privacy of an on-premise deployment.

PEG takes us one step closer to unlocking the limitless potential of the global workforce by accelerating the responsible and ethical use of AI in the enterprise. We look forward to partnering with our customers to provide an unprecedented level of insights while at the same time proactively protecting the security of their data and the privacy of their employees. We’ve shown how computer vision-based AI can co-exist with privacy, and we invite other process intelligence vendors to join us in delivering responsible AI-based solutions.

Together, Humans and Software Agents Drive Enterprise Automation

“What is the calculus of innovation? The calculus of innovation is really quite simple: Knowledge drives innovation, innovation drives productivity, productivity drives economic growth.”

—William Brody, Scientist

 

 

Every company – no matter what size – knows that in order to remain competitive, you have to embrace change. Massive economic shifts tend to drive change more quickly and significantly, and this has never been more true or urgent. No matter what stage of your digital transformation journey you are in, the current environment is likely accelerating your process optimization initiatives. Additionally, the traditional emphasis on front-office activities need to be reevaluated. Most transformation programs in the last decade have focused on customer experience, but today, indicators suggest the emphasis moving forward will shift toward back-office operational excellence in departments including finance and accounting, HR, and procurement.

From the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, much has been written about the potential permanent job loss from the drive for increased automation in the enterprise. Experts predict up to 800 million jobs worldwide could be lost to automation by 2035. Enterprise veterans know, however, that the human element will never go away – it will merely change. While these headlines spark a lot of article views, they fail to address the positive opportunities and changes we will see in the workforce as a result of innovative automation.

Improved Employee Experiences

When done properly, automation should support and complement human activity. It removes the low-value, manual and tedious tasks that consume a majority of our work hours, letting employees focus on higher-value activities. Identifying areas where employees can add value by applying their skills to more strategic work not only increases productivity, but also overall employee happiness. The shift away from manual tasks has been going on since the Industrial Revolution, and HR departments are hyper aware that retaining employees is more cost-effective. A recent study by Employee Benefits News states the average cost of losing an employee is equal to 33% of their annual salary.

Increased Need for a Human-Centric Approach

When first approaching automation projects it’s important to validate the tasks and processes identified to make sure they are good candidates for RPA. Those who have been involved in enterprise workflow programs know the golden rule that there is nothing worse than automating a bad process; it simply magnifies the inefficiency. On the flip side, automating a good process has the advantage of magnifying the efficiency. Without the use of modern discovery techniques to accurately document the current state and identify process variations, it’s very difficult to distinguish a good process from a bad one. Automated discovery tools like FortressIQ surface the insights of tasks and processes at a detailed level previously unattainable with more traditional methods. Once this data is gathered, however, it ultimately needs a human element for success. Whether internal or external, process optimization experts, business analysts, automation SMEs, developers, project managers, and others will play a crucial part in successful planning and execution.

Enabling the Citizen Developer

The future of automation will see a shift from a more traditional top-down “you must automate” approach led by management to a bottom-up “how can I be more efficient” employee-driven trend. Bots will be packaged up with standard office apps and services to increase usage across organizations. Coupled with no-code offerings this will allow anyone – no matter what department or role they have at the company – to easily automate a tedious task or portion of their job without engaging IT. Imagine if sales executives could spend less time updating CRM systems, sales operations could auto-generate pipeline reports, product managers could consolidate and group customer feature requests from various channels, the finance and accounting department could eliminate copying and pasting of PO numbers into multiple systems, and if call center and support employees could auto-fill customer ticket information, among countless other examples to make life easier for employees. Putting the power of this technology into the hands of your workforce allows them to make data-driven decisions more quickly, increasing overall corporate performance.

The future of automation will be a seamless blend of the next-generation workforce and software agents, including bots and assistive technology. Enterprises who determine how to successfully incorporate these capabilities will remain competitive and relevant. It will improve their organizations and accelerate the pace of innovation. For a jump start on your RPA efforts, check out our handy guide, “Should my Enterprise Automate That?” available here.

Changing the Game with FortressIQ & Microsoft Power Automate

Today I’m excited to kick off the next phase of our Microsoft partnership. FortressIQ + Power Automate, generally available starting today, make it possible to grow your business productivity by automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks through digital and robotic process automation. With the integration of FortressIQ and Power Automate, we provide organizations with an end-to-end solution for intelligent automation–from cognitive process intelligence to AI-enabled workflows and business insight.

Process Discovery and Automation are Value Drivers for Complementary Enterprise Solutions

Process Discovery is Essential for Automation

Enterprise organizations who are embracing new technologies such as process discovery and automation to achieve their transformation goals understand the value that these solutions bring in addressing digital challenges. Early adopters, in particular, who have overcome initial RPA deployment setbacks, and are now looking to more intelligent automation solutions understand the importance of process discovery and mining solutions and how necessary they are to maximizing the ROI of automation tools.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

Companies who have adopted these solutions for internal use should also consider how their own products and solutions could add additional value to their customers if they were process discovery and automation-friendly. This is especially relevant for software and IT services companies. The same challenge of scalable implementation encountered by companies internally when they were deploying automation will be faced by their customers as they too try to implement automation at scale.

Gartner recently published the February 2020 “Product Managers Must Use Hyperautomation to Enhance Offerings” report, which names FortressIQ as a robotic process discovery tool. According to Gartner, “within the last few years, many organizations have faced competition from digital “natives” and increasing pressure to cut costs. Automation is often key to addressing these challenges by increasing speed and efficiency while reducing costs, but the typical overly long response times from more traditional IT approaches are holding this back. Hyperautomation is about fixing these pent-up automation requirements at speed. Through excellent governance and planning by their product managers, vendors are thriving by aligning their products to this pent-up demand for quicker and more automation inside their customer organizations.” We believe that companies whose solution offerings can be configured to add increased value by complementing RPA and process tools can improve their customers’ experiences, increase ROI, and gain an advantage over competitors — a win-win.

Understanding Process Discovery 

In order for companies to tweak or adjust a product successfully, the product team needs to thoroughly understand the capabilities of the tools they’re trying to align with. FortressIQ is an enterprise platform that accelerates transformation with data-driven metrics on current state business operations. Using AI we discover, map, and document all processes and tasks executed by your workforce to deliver deep insights not achievable with other methods or tools. These insights enable companies to make better decisions about how to address complex initiatives such as automation.

Not all process discovery solutions are created equal. FortressIQ brings a cognitive, intelligent approach at enterprise scale. Our hyper-scalable solution can automatically create a rich, structured view of an organization in as little as a few weeks, with no integrations or APIs needed. As a result, automation initiatives can both scale and be extremely targeted. Additionally, the extremely granular and feature-rich data collected can be used to validate and test an organization’s overall transformation strategy.

To summarize, when companies producing enterprise software and IT services, automation vendors, and process discovery solutions all align to highlight the respective offerings, the customer wins.

Interested in learning more about cognitive process discovery from FortressIQ? Learn about our approach, or request a demo here.

Enabling Automation Success: What to do Before And After Deployment

Enterprise organizations all over the world have jumped on the RPA bandwagon. Your executive staff is asking questions about this automation technology: licensing, where it can help, and how quickly could it be up and running. Maybe you’ve deployed some bots already and are looking elsewhere for additional automation opportunities. Or maybe you’re just getting started. Where do you go from here? Below are a few key actions you must take – prior to implementation – that will enable you to deploy RPA faster and recognize better results.


Identify a starting point.

Just like every other major phase of your digital transformation journey, the starting point is very important. It may seem easy at first, as there seem to be myriad places that bots can be of value in any company. Refuse the urge to throw bots at a problem without details and a plan. First, make sure to get a complete and accurate picture of your current state business operations. Taking the time to get all this information will easily enable you to identify the areas that will have the most impact. And using an automated process discovery solution like FortressIQ will feed you those answers much more quickly, and with more detail so you can validate your recommendations with the team and proceed with confidence.

Define metrics for success.

Having a successful deployment model (or RPA roadmap) is crucial to maintain the momentum for bot utilization and maintenance. Many enterprise companies have purchased tens to hundreds of RPA licenses and have only used a fraction. Having a system to quickly identify with your team where to target automation and using auto process discovery methods to support the recommendations will keep you on track to deploy more rapidly and track along the way. We recommend creating a custom prioritization template with input from departmental subject matter experts (SMEs) and business analysts to define consistent mechanisms to track and report on progress.

Plan on rework.

While the implementation of bots has been made easier with more accurate documentation and easy coding, what is often unplanned for in an automation project is the fact that bots can and do break; they have to be constantly monitored and fixed. Enterprises that do not add in these steps, potential costs and overhead into an RPA project plan end up scrambling for resources when a problem occurs. Building this into your plan will ensure you have the resources to swiftly address problems and not get stuck spinning your wheels on rework.

Continuously check and pivot strategy.

At the end of each round of bot deployments, document how the process has changed and what the estimated ROI will be for those RPA licenses now in use. Taking this action will ensure you are checking on overall progress along the way. If you’d like to dig in a bit more on what it takes to make RPA successful, check out our infographic on questions to ask before implementing automation.

Delivering Process Intelligence to Microsoft Power Automate Customers

“We create technology so others can create more technology.”

– Satya Nadella, Microsoft