Company: IBM Corporation
Nomination Category: Leading Transformation Award
Industry 4.0 is the expression for a new industrial era characterized by the convergence of technological capabilities including Artificial Intelligence, robotic process automation, blockchain, analytics and cloud. This disruption can be intrusive, frustrating and add complexity to our lives.
Each day at IBM thousands of us across the world are executing manual, repetitive activities such initiating quotes, developing pricing and financing, registering contracts, creating orders, billing and collecting cash. Enterprise wide transformation is the norm as is transforming the organization, skills and the way we work. We knew we needed to transform faster, at scale.
Recently, our teams have been reorganized into agile squads to become more efficient. On its own, this shift resulted in improved operations and practitioners who are ready to take on challenges. But, the greatest challenge is more than 300 disparate legacy systems, databases and applications, processes resulting in a massive amount of manual, repetitive tasks that limit the practitioner’s opportunity to spend time on higher value activities.
This reality required a strategy, so we created the Automation Center of Excellency (COE) to enable emerging technologies like RPA. The most intriguing topic at the time and now is how to shift from ‘people executing processes supported by technology to technology executing processes supported by people.”
The COE started the journey with 3 imperatives:
Organize for Speed and Scale - a hybrid operating model to enable local automation
Governance and Practices - establish IT platform, accelerate change, track progress
Agility to ensure a healthy pipeline, manage capacity and efficiently deploy robots to the cloud (virtual, digital workforce)
The first step was a massive focus on skills. The COE developed a practical hands-on training approach called “BotCamp” that uses real cases from the local participants. For example, is a process to register 148 contracts with a 95% accuracy rate that normally takes over a week. At the BotCamp participants created a simple robot to perform the same activity in 8 hours with 100% accuracy. In that first BotCamp the success of the projects and the advocacy earned by the participants was eye opening for our executives. It resulted in additional support and sponsorship to perform BotCamps in 18 locations across the globe, with 24 hands-on training sessions performed and 469 people trained. This skills-based approach resulted in the automation of more than 305,000 hours of manual activity which is time given back to the business to shift to higher value.
Developing tomorrow ready skill accelerated the maturity of the Automation COE and more importantly the satellite automation squads. This resulted in new paths to shift from operations roles into technical roles and other roles to support the automation solutions. The shift to ‘people executing processes supported by technology to technology executing processes supported by people” was becoming a reality and it encouraged the teams to double down. Using this human design approach permeated into all areas of the COE’s approach including the co-delivery approach taken on complex projects, collaborate design of measures, establishing standards and practices, sharing technical deliverables, aligning operating model, etc.
The COE has become an integral part of the strategic execution of IBM’s enterprise wide strategy. The human approach used resulted in personal and business outcomes that translated into personal stories shared from peer to peer, employee to leader, leader to leader across the organization. This approach is liberating individuals and teams to innovate and contribute, and other leaders in IBM are taking notice and the industry as well. The COE is taking on new mission and has been recognized externally for Automation Impact. In a very large and complex company this is not easy. The team continues its journey focusing on the human side of automation and is riding the momentum and outcomes created by the approach.
- Created the Automation COE to enable emerging technologies like RPA.
· Developed and deployed our Strategic Framework: a singular and cohesive strategy focusing on 3 imperatives:
-Organize for Speed and Scale
-Governance and Practices
During past 18 months we trained over 469 people. 18 of those individuals shifted into new technical roles and close to 100 work on projects locally as volunteers. This skills-based approach resulted in the automation of more than 305,000 hours of manual activity which is time given back to the business to shift to higher value.
This approach is liberating individuals and teams to innovate and contribute, promoting employee engagement and higher level of job satisfaction.