What’s In Store for Process Intelligence in 2022

It’s prediction season again, and 2022 promises to be one for the record books with companies adapting to a post-pandemic world and a generally strong business environment to maneuver. The noise in the market for process intelligence in 2021 was confirmed, with plenty of corporate activity, including Microsoft’s release of its own process discovery tool and SAP’s acquisition of Signavio.

The coming year promises to be even more notable with the continued mainstreaming of process intelligence, growing both deep and wide in the enterprise. Take a look below and see what we predict for process intelligence in 2022.

Prediction 1 – Operational Excellence Captures Mind Share

As transformation fatigue settled in across companies, automation became the new transformation in 2021. In 2022, operational excellence will be the new automation. Companies have pursued process management nirvana for decades. Analysts estimate that poor processes cost companies 20-30 percent of annual revenues. For decades, companies have pursued BPM, TQM, CI, Lean, Six Sigma, and other frameworks to operate more efficiently and limit revenue leakage caused by poor workflows.

Today, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for stakeholders looking to successfully execute on the promise of operational excellence. The management frameworks, coupled with advances in technology across both process and automation solutions, make true and lasting impacts finally feasible. Just as web analytics revolutionized the digital experience for everyone and gave birth to a customized and immersive online world that spawned massive adoption, process intelligence will ultimately deliver an equally valuable contribution to achieving operational excellence and just maybe mark the end of the transformation quest.

Prediction 2 – Increased Focus on the Intelligent Automation Ecosystem

It takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village of technologies and techniques to successfully deliver intelligent automation. No one can do it alone, and providers that think it’s possible will suffer the same fate of Icarus and fall back to Earth. An ecosystem that works together to deliver best-of-breed outcomes is essential for success. Intelligent automation done right requires too many moving pieces for any one company to deliver a solution for the enterprise.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) solutions are obvious foundational elements, but process technologies, workflow tools, business intelligence, low-code platforms, and other services are critical to a comprehensive intelligent automation competency. Beyond the obvious connections, look for more outcome-based partnerships around compliance and customer service.

Companies are increasingly looking to drive greater efficiency and cost-savings out of operations that are only possible with a robust toolset. Each product can deliver value, but more total value is achieved when the solutions are used together. It’s the new math where 1 + 1 = 3 is a feasible answer.

Prediction 3 – Process Mining and Task Mining Deliver a One-Two Punch

Too many companies still think it’s a process mining or task mining decision. In reality, the technologies answer fundamentally different questions. Process mining tells you what happened, while task mining details how it happened, and at the end of the day, organizations will eventually need both to win.

Comprehensive process intelligence requires a mix of process mining, modeling, and documentation. Used individually—and properly—each solution can certainly drive value for the organization depending on the use case. When combined, it creates a 360-degree view of your operations and creates an opportunity to deliver a value-driven, process-led, and data-based transformation. 

Consider how the different approaches work better together. Process mining offers higher-level, top-down insights on core end-to-end business processes. Task discovery provides granular, bottom-up detail on user activity to define task completion. The integrated insights accelerate value creation regardless of whether the targeted outcome is an automated workflow, streamlined process, improved experience, or enhanced compliance. 

Prediction 4 – More Diverse Outcomes Across the Enterprise

Process technologies have traditionally focused on finance and accounting practices. This made sense because those activities tend to be more structured, and the data is easier to manipulate with fewer variations. Unfortunately though, the key-value streams in a company tend not to fall under the CFO’s office. Recent advances in cloud, AI, ML and analytics have enabled process discovery to be successfully deployed across the enterprise. From sales operations and contact centers to ITSM and HR, process intelligence is driving value across the enterprise.

In addition to going wider across the enterprise, process technologies are starting to go deeper into business units. Originally, the primary use case for process discovery was limited to automation as companies sought to accelerate and scale RPA programs. Today, it is seen as a key component for everything from workflow improvement and customer experience to compliance and analytics. Companies know that data-driven organizations win in the market, and process data is one of the last missing pieces of data that companies need to have a comprehensive view of their operations.

Prediction 5 – People and Process Will Drive Transformation Success

Companies have been tackling transformation for nearly two decades. It’s a major struggle. McKinsey reports only 14% of companies have achieved sustained and material improvements from transformation programs at the cost of nearly $1 trillion annually. Despite the low propensity for success, companies continue to pour resources into complex change programs. BCG notes more than 80% of companies plan to accelerate their digital transformations. The dichotomy exists because executives realize that doing nothing is not an option because a company can’t be competitive if it fails to transform.

The biggest challenge to any complex change is the lack of knowledge on current state activities. Unfortunately, most companies do not understand how they truly operate on a day-to-day basis. You cannot get to the targeted future state efficiently without a clear view of your current operations. Process intelligence gives you that “what are we doing today” operational insight to then improve and drive value for the organization. Too much of the focus on transformation has been directed towards technology as the answer without considering the people and process dimensions. Through a more balanced people-process-technology approach, transformation success rates can be improved dramatically. 

In closing, the past couple of years have shown us that instability with no clear point of action can result in chaos and confusion. 2022 will provide an opportunity for organizations to develop operational excellence through process intelligence on the coattails of the expedited need for automation technology brought by the pandemic.