Unlocking IA’s innovative potential in the cloud: Key steps to a smooth migration

By Byron Hudson, SVP & GM Blue Prism Cloud Portfolio, SS&C Blue Prism and Adam Lawrence, VP Cloud Solutions, SS&C Blue Prism.

  • Friday, 19th January 2024 Posted 2 months ago in by Phil Alsop

The cloud has the potential to deliver tremendous opportunities for businesses across all sectors. Many businesses can capitalize on the benefits associated with intelligent automation (IA) in the cloud and manage effective migration.

Despite the well-known benefits of cloud, many companies struggle to effectively migrate to it, with 75% of initiatives running over budget and 38% falling behind schedule due to a lack of clear strategy leading to budget overspend and lack of utilization, according to data from McKinsey.

 

However, with a strategically planned approach outlined below, companies can achieve seamless, cost-effective and timely IA migration.

Step 1: Evaluate your current environment

 

Understanding where IA migration to the cloud can add the most value and who to support you with the transition is the first – and most important – step in the process. The best way to find the right cloud partner is to measure and evaluate vendors with years of experience or a proven track record in your sector. Contracts, compliance and SLAs for IA migration must be guaranteed by your chosen partner.

A technology and services roadmap for the business can help determine where best to deploy IA cloud technologies to maximize savings.

Before considering the total cost of ownership, carefully examine existing and future architecture with your vendor. A security and reliability audit should be at the top of the list, followed by a look at the daily tools and features your enterprise uses, along with their cloud and migration capability.

Security architecture and IA protocols need to be considered. Every industry has its own set of security policies and regulations, which affect how a cloud platform should be deployed.

Regulated industries like financial services, energy, and health, for example, may benefit from a hybrid IA cloud solution enabling them to keep some of their operations on-premises. This flexibility is important to meet the security requirements in highly regulated sectors.

 

Your IT security and infrastructure teams should be involved from the outset. Failure to involve the right people from the start is the main way we see businesses lose momentum in their cloud migrations.

If key people aren’t involved from the start and raise concerns with the implementation plan later in the process, the initiative may be delayed and need to be reworked.

 

This step lays the foundation before you and your provider go on to build a thorough project plan.

 

Step 2: Plan, plan, plan! (Your biggest and most important step)

 

A good understanding of your IA cloud goals is essential to the planning phase. What is your business trying to achieve? Are you looking to reduce overheads? Eliminate legacy infrastructures slowing down your business? Fill in skills gaps? Create better opportunities for innovation? Reduce costs and risks? Etc.

 

These goals should be assessed from multiple viewpoints – from the C-suite down. A top-down approach facilitates the fastest time to value, helping organizations rapidly achieve digital transformation at scale, compared to a bottom-up, department by department strategy.

 

All stakeholders should be invested in success. Key stakeholders include an executive sponsor and the C-suite, security teams, infrastructure teams, and – ideally – a project manager. Involvement of all these players facilitates successful migration and lays the foundation needed to use IA in the cloud to its fullest potential.

 

As part of onboarding, ensuring your cloud partner understands your long-term strategy is vital, so make sure to discuss the benefits and challenges and focus on best value. Think about resource-intensive workflows – these are going to offer the most value by being moved to the cloud.

 

Consider elastic processes. Airlines, for example, contend with unpredictable weather conditions, which – when bad enough – can lead to surges in customer demands for rebooking, cancelations, etc. The ability to scale digital workers up or down with ease is a proven advantage for airlines. The cloud enables this ability to scale, which in turn enables companies to avoid having to pay to maintain and update costly infrastructure year-round.

 

Your long-term goals should also shape which tasks you prioritize moving to the cloud and which IA cloud technologies you adopt. Digital transformation is the most common reason companies want to move services to the cloud. For the move to be effective, stakeholders need to be clear about which technologies are going to best help them.

 

For example, most will benefit from Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for support on document scanning and automated data entry, making it a useful tool to start with. Generative AI technologies – whether it’s Chat GPT, other Large Language Models or generative image and audio content – can also add value by allowing organizations to satisfy more use cases than traditional IA can on its own and open up multiple ways to communicate.

 

With the cloud, you don’t need to adopt all the advanced technologies in one go: your cloud infrastructure has the adaptability to have new technologies seamlessly added on or taken away as needed, without the need to have them manually integrated and maintained by IA specialists. A cloud-based intelligent automation platform gives businesses single-vendor access to a suite of technologies and the flexibility to design a bespoke automation program.

 

Step 3: Time to flip the switch

 

Before beginning your IA migration, coordinate with your team and provider to ensure all the necessary steps for a seamless transition have been taken.

 

Once confirmed, it is time to start moving your processes over. If the needed planning has been done, this won’t take too long. Timelines depends on providers and unique organizational needs.

 

Once the migration is complete, review processes to check and validate they are working as they should. Choose a vendor with the tools to help you automate this review process to reduce time and effort.

 

Step 4: Future-Proof

 

At this point, your IA cloud migration will be complete – but this is not a ‘one and done’ approach. To get the most value out of your investment, you need to be willing to commit to a scalable, future-proof plan designed to accommodate the organization’s future business needs.

 

The agility of the cloud will play to your advantage. Coordinate with your provider when you need to scale digital workers up or down. Continue to update your pipeline – what automations are you going to build next? What technologies do you need to support initiatives?

 

If your outcomes are not aligning with your goals, reassess your plans, and change tack. Done right, IA in the cloud offers agility and time to value. Sysco, the world’s largest broadline food distributor, for example, needed to scale their automation program to better serve its 600,000 clients in 90 countries without sacrificing the team’s commitment to operational excellence.

When suddenly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sysco deployed more digital workers and automations as part of a critical cloud strategy to help process order entry and scale their business. Once automations were deployed to the cloud, Sysco deploys a SS&C Blue Prism digital workforce wherever it is needed across the operation and scales them to meet business demands.  Sysco has grown to 60 digital workers who collectively process 6.2 million transactions and return more than 250,000 work hours to the business—all during a trying global pandemic, without sacrificing operational excellence.

 

Cloud technology is changing the way businesses operate, providing a flexible, scalable, and cost-effective solution for data storage and processing; providing on-demand access to intelligent automation technologies; and making way for faster innovation, increased productivity, and reduced costs.

 

While many companies struggle with effectively migrating IA to the cloud, by following these key steps and focusing on long-term value, you’ll enable your business to unlock the cloud’s innovative potential.

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