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Ask an Expert: Harry Nicholson, Part 2

August 25 2020

3 min read

We spoke with Harry Nicholson, Senior Product Manager – Automation and Process Management at Blue Turtle Technologies, South Africa’s leading enterprise technology management company, about the evolving automation landscape and best practices for driving digital transformation success. Check out part 2 of our conversation below and catch up on part 1 here.

What are the biggest hurdles you see around embracing emerging tech? 

We come across various obstacles when introducing new solutions, particularly to organisations incorporating tech capabilities that have not yet been introduced into the South African market. Each customer is different in their own ways, but one of the main issues we encounter is around usable and compatible data. Companies need to have the correct data in the right amounts while ensuring security and privacy. We are seeing a major push from organisations to go through data cleansing initiatives to remove outdated and inaccurate data.

All organisations are mandated to try and cut costs, so showing the value upfront is imperative in initial discussions with prospects. There are other legal and regulatory factors that companies need to adhere to in order to avoid penalties, and security will remain one the highest priorities when looking at new technology solutions.

Another hindrance that seems to pop up is around existing business processes. Legacy and outdated processes are cumbersome and constantly deviating from the original blueprint of what the process was designed to achieve. A lack of understanding and ownership of certain processes is another major stumbling block when building out a strategy to automate these heavy processes.

What advice do you have for getting started and successfully scaling new tech?

Moving to a fully digital autonomous enterprise is by no means an easy feat. It takes time, effort and having the right mindset around where you see the organisation moving towards. I think the starting point is having the correct leadership in place. Having a leader that is familiar with digital technologies is key to a successful transformation. Being committed to a strategy with the right vision is paramount to lead an organisation forward into a digital first era. Enterprises need a clear purpose, well-defined goals, sound reasoning, and communication to ensure your workforce is fully behind the vision of transformation.

Empowering employees to give their input on digitisation reinforces the commitment to transformation and makes the path a lot less bumpy. This is supported with tools and technologies and also by equipping the workforce with the necessary training and skills to move to the next level.

I can’t overstate the importance of clear communication throughout the process. This keeps the targeted vision in sight, ensures everyone is aligned and leads to a smoother transition.

What advice do you give to companies looking to select and implement an Intelligent Document Processing [IDP] solution? 

I would say understanding the difference between automation and intelligent automation is a good start. Companies have been using automation for some time now, but with the inclusion of AI and Machine Learning, automation has become a super-powerhouse. This form of intelligent automation is creating the current hype not only in South Africa but globally.

When introducing IDP, most clients have some form of legacy OCR technology doing one specific function. IDP solutions leverage capabilities such as AI and ML to successfully automate more of the business processes. Clients face similar challenges around understanding their data and how best to utilise it to deliver business value. Presently, the human workforce is tasked with managing this, which becomes a mammoth of a task, and results in issues with inaccuracies and human errors, costly time delays, penalties or compliance issues.

As companies expand, there will be an ever-growing influx of data that is going to be challenging to have a human workforce to control. IDP has evolved to take this burden away. Companies need to look at their current volumes of documents and whether their current automation solution is able to scale to this level. Automating their current data capture, classification and extraction processes paves the way to becoming a digital autonomous entity.

What’s been your most rewarding moment at Blue Turtle to date?

The most rewarding part of what I do is providing clients with leading solutions that will help them drive towards specific automation strategies from initiation through the closing phases. Being able to meet those complex requirements and share the knowledge and expertise of the various fields that I oversee is an amazing feeling in itself. Knowing that your customers rely on you to build on their curiosity around new tech making waves globally and thinking how these could be applied to their long-term business needs is the kind of challenge I thrive on.

What’s your recommended source of industry information?

I try to keep up to date with the latest ideas and information occurring in the automation landscape across Forbes, McKinsey, Accenture and Forrester. I also find a lot of useful information through LinkedIn. Automation is an exciting space to be in right now, and companies are leveraging automation solutions to enhance productivity and improve business processes across their enterprise.

Thank you to Harry for your time and insights! You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.