The Benefits of Having a Chief Automation Officer 

The Benefits of Having a Chief Automation Officer 

Adopting a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) program is only the first step to ensuring resilient automation – after all, all the proof of value and subsequent projects don’t mean much unless the initiatives are executed properly. According to Forrester, fewer than one in five firms have mastered resilient automation, leading to ineffective cost control which only hinders their development further.

This lack of drive and resource utilization according to an Economist Intelligence Unit’s study affects 91% of automation-deploying organizations. The chief automation officer is key in making sure that all efforts are thoroughly used to their full potential – this includes understanding when it’s time to shift processes or rethink them entirely.

Chief Automation Officer

Large companies these days generally have plenty of officers with “Chief” in their titles. There’s the ubiquitous CEO, then you have the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Information Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer, and perhaps even a Chief Compliance Officer. You can also have chiefs for Data, Marketing, Security, Administration, and Content.

But now it may be time for your organization to add a Chief Automation Officer to the Chief-level ranks. The main benefit of having a Chief Automation Officer is that your business can properly use and optimize automation for the company.

The CAO can be appointed after you’ve already started automating some of your business processes, and you realize that the implementation of the automation isn’t as efficient as it could be. It’s always a good idea to start small, so you reduce the risk even as you eventually prove the value of automation for your business. But at some point, you may have inefficiencies regarding your use of automation, and the CAO can deal with this issue head on.

Or, you can even have a CAO to start with the use of automation for your business. That way, you might even optimize your use of automation right from the start.

The Benefits of Having a Chief Automation Officer 

It’s already a well-known fact that automation has become very popular among plenty of companies across a wide range of industries. The stats portray a very convincing picture:

  • 91% of businesses are using some form of automation
  • 92% of executives regard automation as crucial for digital information
  • 82% of execs attest that automation has help their business deal with the changes brought on by Covid

Yet only 53% of these businesses are fully using automation. And for that to change, your business needs more than an enthusiastic part-timer executive to oversee the use of automation for the company. Automation needs a full-time leader. It requires a great deal of collaboration between the IT department and many of the other managers and workers in the company. And that’s where the CAO can really help.

What Does a Chief Automation Officer (CAO) Do?

A CAO’s role may be somewhat different, depending on the particular organization and industry they’re working in. But in general, the CAO is in charge with the use of automation. The business can set up a Center of Excellence department to deal with automation, and the CAO can be in charge of this CoE.

But it’s not really that simple, given that automation itself can involve a complicated set of processes. These will involve traditionally used legacy systems, various types of devices and technology, and various workers dealing with the processes involved. The CAO must be conversant with the productivity issues that workers down the ranks encounter on a regular basis.

At the same time, the CAO should also be aware of the long-term strategy of the business, so that the use of automation can grow just as the business does. The CAO has to be on top of the big picture.

Particular Roles of the CAO

Here are some of the responsibilities that might fall within the purview of the CAO:

Educating about Automation

In any long-standing organization, there will always be people who prefer the old ways. After all, these are proven methods that they’ve already mastered, so why change things? Some workers might even fear that the automation tools might replace them altogether.

It’s the job of the CAO and the folks at the CoE to inform the rest of the company about the actual benefits of automation. They can also demonstrate that automation helps workers, and not replace them at all. They can hold training seminars on how people can use the automation tools as well.

Manage the CoE

This is perhaps the main job of the CAO, since the CoE is tasked with managing automation within the company. The CoE collaborates with the rest of the company to come up with best practices and standards for automation, and then enforces those standards. The CoE helps to develop the needed software robots and then integrates them into the current processes and systems.

There’s no one single way of structuring a CoE. It can be a centralized department responsible for all the automation in the company. Or the company might have small CoE groups spread across various business units. Either way, the CAO’s job is to head all those CoE groups and deal with any potential roadblocks that might hinder their automation initiatives. These roadblocks can be organizational, technical, or even cultural in nature.

Promote Collaboration with Other Departments

With so many businesses these days updating their digital transformation efforts, people in the IT department already have too many responsibilities to deal with. The CAO can help by focusing all the involved personnel in working together more seamlessly when it comes to the automation tools and processes. Everyone can then be on the same page, working together under the same guidelines and towards the same goals.

Be Aware of New Technologies

Automation is constantly evolving, and that’s obvious given how it has changed from the early days of RPA. The CAO should always be aware of advances in automation and other related fields (such as AI and machine learning) so that they can integrate cutting-edge technologies into their processes.

With these tasks in hand, the Chief Automation Officer can certainly do a lot of good for any business.


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