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Improved FM services through hyperautomation

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What is hyperautomation?

Hyperautomation is a term that’s becoming more and more ubiquitous, so much so that analyst giant Gartner recently named it one of its top strategic technology trends for 2021. But what exactly does the term mean?

The first thing you should know about hyperautomation is that it isn’t a single technology, but an ecosystem of technologies. Put simply, it’s about increasing the automation of business processes, for instance financial processes, marketing processes, and operational workflows.

With a goal of aiding business decision making, hyperautomation supports business activities by introducing and automating multiple technologies, tools or platforms. Some of the most popular include artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), natural language processing (NLP), low code application development, the Internet of Things (IoT), process mining, and platform solutions such as Planon Facility Services Business Solution.

Through this process, hyperautomation can provide data that offers a level of business intelligence that was not available before. As a result, organisations can eliminate repetitive tasks, reduce error-related risks, enhance operational efficiency and resiliency, and enable better employee performance.

The benefits of hyperautomation for organisations

Hyperautomation enables organisations to visualise how their process management, business functions and key performance indicators interact in order to drive value. To define a good hyperautomation strategy, a business should:

  • Identify and recruit a multi-stakeholder project team from across operations, IT, customer service, field workers, and administrators
  • Define desired business outcomes and related processes to achieve those outcomes
  • Address challenges to developing or implementing a hyperautomation strategy
  • Analyse the effectiveness of existing processes
  • Identify business and IT improvement opportunitiesReview, select and implement the appropriate tools to achieve desired business process management outcomes

    Any company that is deploying hyperautomation will undoubtedly see positive results, especially when it comes to gaining performance insight into existing business goals and processes. For example, traditional areas where these tools are expected to take off – particularly in this decade and beyond – include database search querying for items such as asset registry data, project management automation, customer relationship management (CRM) automation, ERP integration, fulfilment and the tracking of things like leads, people, processes, and stock resources.

    However, perhaps the most promising consequence of hyperautomation for businesses is related to the workforce, with employees becoming more efficient, creative, and innovative - thus improving a company’s performance. The bonus here is that this will also result in significant cost reductions.

    In fact, Gartner predicts that hyperautomation will reduce companies' operating costs by 30 percent by 2024. The analyst house says that the major contributing factor in these savings is the integration of a hyperautomation strategy with a service management software solution.

    Incorporating structured and unstructured data

    Robotic process automation (RPA) is a good performer when it comes to automating pre-defined and standardised steps. For example, in situations where rules define the location and type of data being captured or written (like pulling service requirements from a work order completion ticket, or validating the accuracy of a client invoice, etc.). However it’s not always the best course of action. This is because RPA can’t promise to deliver on pre-set automation goals when data is presented in unstructured or different formats and with diverse content.

    However, by utilising a hyperautomation strategy that incorporates technologies like machine learning and machine vision, organisations are able to extract the relevant information they need from multiple sources, which results in more efficient operations overall.

    Hyperautomation can provide businesses and their leaders with the following benefits:

    • Improved operational quality
    • Increased customer retention
    • Better transparency on performance and contract compliance
    • Increased employee satisfaction and motivation
    • Greater compliance and reduced risk
    • Increased employee capacity and skills utilisation
    • Access to real-time business specific knowledge base
    • Instant, accurate insights
    • Better productivity and operating margins

    Helping service providers remain competitive through hyperautomation

    Deployment of facility services is expected to become increasingly technology-intensive in order to address industry trends - such as a need for shorter work turnaround times, workforce shortages, a need for energy efficiency, and the increasing complexity of service agreements, and facility operational solutions.

    ‘We are already hearing that some workers will be working three days a week from home, so this means our services need to be rescheduled. Furthermore, individuals will only come to the office if good services are underpinning it.’
    – Peter Deroover (Sales Director for the BeNeLux region at Atalian Global Services)

    According to business consulting giant Frost and Sullivan, analytics-based applications are anticipated to play a key role within this ecosystem. These are expected to drive improved service execution and innovation, especially when it comes to the future successes of activities such as Planned Preventative Maintenance and Field Service Management.

    Hyperautomation can also provide service provider IT departments with software solutions that are easy-to-use, scalable, and that will work with existing operating processes. Tools to implement a hyperautomation strategy should be close to, if not, ‘plug and play’, and able to pull data from different sources and use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and RPA to talk to existing software.

    Scroll down to learn more.

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    The possibilities of hyperautomation for FM service providers

    Smart planning and work allocation

    Many facility service providers struggle with finding the right skilled people due to an aging workforce and the battle for new talent. Hyperautomation technologies can optimise the resource capacity of your planning and operations staff. One way is by using sensors to assess the conditions of assets to reduce unnecessary planned maintenance and cleaning activities. The planning of other tasks, such as reactive maintenance, can be improved with solutions such as advanced planning and scheduling algorithms or a virtual planning employee, that can plan and dispatch jobs automatically. Automatic planning and dispatching will take into account parameters like people skills, certifications, traffic, weather, and personal preferences. This allows planning staff to focus on higher priority and more complex tasks. Intelligent automations can simplify work assignments and work administration using image analysis and smart responsive video to guide operational staff through complex activities.

    Monitor customer sentiment to improve responses to high priority events

    Hyperautomation can help a business achieve its key value drivers more easily, particularly those around customer retention. For example with AI, communication channels can be monitored and analysed to sense the ‘mood’ of the customer when they are reporting a call or sending a request via one of the omnichannel apps. This analysis of customer sentiment enables account managers, customer success managers, or service delivery managers to better understand the customer’s perception of the importance of the request and the service provider’s ability to fulfil it. This means an organisation can more easily hold on to satisfied customers while attempting to salvage those who may feel dissatisfied. Implementing a hyperautomation solution will allow a service provider to dispatch the nearest qualified field worker to respond to high priority events during the day and/or to notify the appropriate on-call shifts to ensure a quick response to emergencies.

    Ensure contract compliance & timely, accurate invoice processing

    For organisations’ accounting departments, handling invoices is one of the most paper-intensive tasks and demands a high amount of input from employees every month. Thankfully, hyperautomation technologies can simplify the capture of incoming information and the calculation of outgoing invoices and billing data. This is especially important since invoice processing is one of the main areas in business where errors and slow processing times are likely to occur, resulting in additional costs to service providers.

    Because commercial agreements vary and are becoming more complex, it is important to derive tariffs, key performance indicators, collaboration rules and potential bonus and malus information directly from the service contracts. This information can be proactively monitored using a contract-centric operations platform. This ensures correct billing information is processed and that regulatory work is planned on time, health and safety procedures are always followed, and associated contract non-compliance penalties are prevented.

    Disadvantages of alternatives to hyperautomation

    If your business isn’t willing to embrace hyperautomation, it can expect:

    • Complicated, time-consuming manual processes that are repetitive and unmotivating for employees
    • Increased risk from human error
    • Lower accuracy in process outputs
    • Contract compliancy risks
    • Constrained operating margins
    • Difficulty staying competitive as business requirements become more complex and quicker decisions are required

    Not to be confused with ‘digitalisation’, or ‘digitisation’

    Anyone not already familiar with hyperautomation should be aware that the practice is known by a few different names. Market research company IDC refers to it as ‘intelligent process automation', and research advisory firm Forrester dubs it 'digital process automation’.

    While hyperautomation is a strategy to link several digitalised tasks to automate an end-to-end process, the term should not be mistaken for digitalisation. Despite popular misconceptions, the two cannot be used interchangeably. Digitalisation is the process to automate individual tasks that rely on digitised data. Hyperautomation is related more to the process of extending digitalisation across functions within an organisation, the results of which should be referred to as digital transformation.

    In the same vein, we must also be sure not to confuse digitalisation with digitisation. While both sound very similar, digitisation refers to converting analogue files to digital files, for example, scanning documents or using OCR to digitally read a document and pull out specific information. As for digitalisation, this is the process of using digital tools and data to impact work. An example of this is automating specific tasks such as the pop-up that appears when you only have five minutes left in your virtual meeting.

    To put it into perspective, when using a digitalisation strategy, a company can automate inefficient processes but this does not help it to most effectively reach its goals. Part of a hyperautomation strategy is reviewing your existing processes and automated tasks to see where they can be optimised and improved. Therefore, hyperautomation is used to improve the performance of a digitalisation strategy.

    Continued growth

    The growing popularity of hyperautomation is associated with it rapidly shifting from an option to a necessity for most businesses. But why? Take the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance. This played a significant role in accelerating the requirement for businesses to embrace an all-digital approach. Processes that weren’t digitalised before coronavirus struggled when operations were forced to a virtual, remote-anywhere world. IT leaders have therefore had to refocus their use of hyperautomation technologies as it’s become apparent that they’re now must-have ingredients for addressing critical business demands.

    How well prepared is your organisation to reap the benefits of hyperautomation? We’ve developed a brief assessment to help you assess your position. By completing 6 questions, you will get a clearer picture of where you stand and suggested next steps towards a hyperautomated organisation.

    Real-world hyperautomation: how Planon solutions can meet your needs

    Since the 1990s, Planon has provided a versatile range of facility management software solutions to help building owners, tenants, and service providers to optimise their business processes.

    In close partnership with the industry and existing customers, Planon has developed industry specific solutions with unique functionalities for service providers such as SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa – leading multi-technical service providers in Europe - to improve operational processes and support business growth.

    Thanks to our software, SPIE was able to considerably advance their processes at all locations, giving their customers better transparency and much easier access to their services.

    The Planon Universe platform

    The above example shows how businesses have taken advantage of the innovative software solutions available under the Planon Universe platform. This includes configurable and future-proof standard solutions that are not only based on highly innovative technology, but offer seamless integration with ERP, finance, HR and other systems. Planon can evolve with your organisation over time to enable best-in-class service delivery performance.

    To find out more, watch the recording of our webinar about hyperautomation and take our interactive assessment where you can assess your own strategy, get tailored advice on your next steps in the journey towards hyperautomation, and get in touch to discuss how Planon can support your FM business growth.

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