The successful automation of business processes

Digitization begins by necessity in those business processes that form the basis of every business model. This is because business processes define in detail every step, and those connected with them, in the value chain. It is therefore necessary to begin at this point. This means either optimizing what already exists with the newest digital technologies – in this way, and for the most part, traditional processes remain preserved – or, the complete and disruptive renewal of business processes; meaning completely re-thinking them. In doing so, revenue models are revolutionized, a business is carried indirectly by finance injected into marketing, or by means of massive start-up funding large monopoly platforms are placed in the market.

For disruptive business models it is self-evident that no pre-prepared templates for the corresponding processes and their reliable execution are available. The supreme discipline of digitization corresponds therefore to the complexity of the model. Nevertheless, step-by-step optimization is also one way of achieving one’s aims. Both approaches result ultimately in a re-design of the IT landscape in a company which is oriented towards newly designed business processes. It is incontestable that significant expense will arise, whichever path is chosen. The aim is therefore to find ways of minimizing this cost.

Buch von August-Wilhelm Scheer

The aim must therefore be to transfer new, digital and automated business processes into IT systems. In so doing, maximum flexibility must be guaranteed, so that even when the processes themselves are subject to ever larger changes and adjustments, the software does not need to be re-developed.

In the past, this was successful for standardized processes in accounting or for travel expense claims. To this end, interfaces for ERP standard software that performed the automated customizing depending on the process model of the standard software were procured. In this way standardized business models were, and still are, transferred easily into functioning software.

Digital business models, however, actually require methods, in the form of software tools, which map new and non-standardized processes, in particular in IT systems, quickly and at low cost. The aim is, for example, to integrate human users with every conceivable end-device, new IoT objects or bots as well, together with diverse technologies such as blockchain or cloud applications and also standardized ERP systems and office tools. An entirely new architecture is required which, even at the modelling stage, can flexibly enhance all these technologies, objects and data-driven fields of application and transfer them into the integrated software. The aim must be that a company no longer orients itself towards the software, but that the software orients itself entirely towards Industry 4.0.

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