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Customer expectations have changed substantially in the last five years. They now expect real-time and personalized responses, greater ease of use, and accessible digital and mobile channels. As customer expectations have shifted, so have organization’s digital transformation strategies, as well as their understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Between digitizing documents in real-time, leveraging mobile capabilities, empowering citizen developers and accelerating enterprise automation initiatives, organizations across a wide array of industries have advanced their digital transformation strategies to meet a changing world. Here are five of the most important lessons we’ve learned from digital transformation in the last five years.

1. Desktop Automation Does Not Equal Digital Transformation

We’ve advanced beyond the days when desktop automation equated to digital transformation. Now, digital transformation initiatives are holistic. They span diverse workflows, connect disparate systems, and are integrated across the organization. They also span higher value use cases that impact an organization in mission-critical ways, from customer onboarding, finance operations, compliance and customer experience.

Digital transformation has graduated beyond siloed, ad hoc and small-scale automation projects to initiatives that are more strategic and impact every facet of the organization. 

Related Article: The Role of Robotic Process Automation in Digital Transformation

2. Mobile Channels Are No Longer a Nice-to-Have

While mobile offerings may have been a luxury five years ago, they are now an indispensable channel. Many organizations previously viewed mobile services as a nice-to-have, or as an offering geared towards a younger generation of tech-savvy consumers. However, now that contactless operations are the norm, offerings that incorporate mobile capture and mobile onboarding are a must-have for meeting the needs of the new digital-first consumer.

From check deposits to application submissions, mobile services can go a long way in providing convenience, accessibility and ease. Organizations that embrace mobile capabilities and seamlessly connect them with back-end systems are well-positioned to enhance the customer experience and improve customer retention.

3. AI Has Created New Possibilities for Process Mining and Discovery

Five years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for an organization’s process discovery methods to be defined by one-on-one interviews, firsthand observations and manual analysis. It was typical for business leaders to map out processes via post-it notes — what used to be referred to as “walking the wall.”

Now, however, organizations are turning to machine learning and predictive analytics to discover and analyze their processes in a more accurate way. In fact, according to a Forrester study conducted in the first quarter of 2020, 28% of organizations are planning to expand their use of process mining and process intelligence technologies. It’s become clear that technology is needed for understanding processes in a reliable, real-time and data-driven way.

Process intelligence technologies have made process discovery and analysis fast and comprehensive and have enabled organizations to make strategic, fact-based decisions (as opposed to simply relying on process assumptions) in their digital transformation initiatives. 

Related Article: Good Business Processes Are Key to Resilience

4. Document Processing Is Real-Time

Previously, many companies believed that simply digitizing content was enough. It’s now widely understood that digitization is just the beginning. Organizations must also know how to generate the greatest value from their digitized documents, including turning unstructured content into data that is actionable and can lead to tangible business results.

Today, document processing occurs in four stages. The first being digitization, which involves getting rid of paper and digitizing archives and incoming data. The second and third stages involve classification, extraction and optimization, which involves reducing manual activities and leveraging machine learning technologies that are able to continuously learn from content within documents. Reaching the fourth stage requires integrating intelligent automation into business-critical workflows in a manner that enables straight-through processing with content intelligence. 

Advancements in technology have made document processing a real-time process, as opposed to a function that happens separate to core workflows. With the capabilities of content intelligence technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and optical character recognition (OCR), document capture and processing is no longer an afterthought and is now being integrated directly into processes. Document capture and processing is now increasingly being done at the point of customer interaction — when quick and seamless access to data is imperative. 

5. Business Users Are Playing a Bigger Role in Digital Transformation

Digital transformation deployments are no longer just for the tech-savvy. Thanks to no-code and low-code solutions, everyday business users are empowered to take on a greater role in digital transformation initiatives. Low-code solutions make it easy and accessible to set up, implement and optimize projects while working alongside a digital workforce, even without coding knowledge or technical experience. These solutions take the dependency off of the IT department, shift the focus towards Centers of Excellence, and empower citizen developers to leverage advanced technologies to transform their organizations. 

Related Article: The Risks and Rewards of the Citizen Developer Approach

Looking Ahead to the Next 5 Years

Intelligent technologies will continue to play an important role in digital transformation strategies and influence the way we work. They will also impact how we identify and execute higher value initiatives that have the greatest impact across operational efficiencies, service innovation and customer loyalty. Organizations that continuously embrace new technologies and develop digital intelligence strategies that are integrated and holistic will be in the best position to emerge as market leaders in the next five years.