In this year’s Intelligent Automation Benchmarking Report, SSON highlighted three major factors in measuring the success of Intelligent Automation implementation. Ahead of Intelligent Automation Week 2019, we have highlighted each factor and, using industry leading statistics, explained why they are crucial and why your organisation needs to be paying attention to them! You can find industry leading insights, vital information, and useful statistics in the SSON IA Benchmarking Report.


Selecting incorrect processes plays a key role in automation failure. Automation works best when rule-based transactions are executed in large volume. Organisations are however, frequently picking difficult processes, which is not necessarily the right strategy for implementing automation.

Choosing seemingly more difficult processes plays a large role in failure, and simple processes become overlooked. It is these niches however that offer the most value, straightforward RPA.

The advent of process discovery and process mining is helping to alleviate the lengthy and rigorous identification process, and instead can locate process readiness, and filter out activities that are not a good fit for automation.

This trend is here to stay, more than two thirds of global Shared Services are already considering process discovery, process mining, and similar tools to make better decisions.


Initially, automation Proof of Concepts and Pilots can be used to solve a specific problem or bottleneck. But the real value of automation can be found in its broader application. Also known as “scaling”, this involves a server or platform-based approach, allowing unattended automation to work at scale. Scaling is the top ranking IA priority in 2020, according to SSON’s survey. Though this practice presents significant roadblocks.

Practitioners most commonly cite lacking skills in automation, or a lack of talent available to scale up automation. The most important skills to nurture in talent are design thinking, output-based problem-solving, understanding the data requirements for evolved automation, and most importantly, competency in automation. Choosing the incorrect tool initially does not seem to be the main problem, however.

Scaling exists in conjunction with adding cognitive capabilities or competencies as the two levers for driving performance through automation. The majority of practitioners are continuing to figure out how to do this. Almost one quarter of Shared Services are investing in new solutions that leverage cognitive capabilities, with another strategy being able to expand through existing RPA tools.

Cognitive solutions are being primarily applied to customer-facing processes, where they can impact the end customer. Though four out of ten Shared Service Officers are also applying these solutions to finance operations, this remains the most common function supported through Shared Services.

In 2019 there are a wide array of automation tools available, but the most popular ones continue to be Artificial Intelligence and RPA. Increasingly we are seeing machine learning, chatbots, and NLP becoming priorities.


A digital enterprise’s performance power hinges on their data accessibility. The data companies are using to feed automation in its various forms needs to be accurate, accessible, and should aim to be completely, if not mostly, structured.

This can be where many organisations hit a major road bump. Most enterprise data is still both unstructured and embedded across various formats, which makes it difficult to make the most of automation’s capabilities. SSON’s survey indicates that one third of global Shared Services are currently being limited by the unstructured nature of their data. A similar percentage are still working on a data management plan – meaning that they are unable to make the most of their digitalisation. This must be a priority in the next year, and beyond.

Practitioner understand that a lack of data readiness will most definitely limit their opportunities, as it has done in the past. There is a trend of more roles in the same vein of data management within Shared Services, as well as the leadership position of Chief Data Officer.

The priority for any organisation determined to succeed in digitalisation by being able to be able to take full advantage of emerging automation opportunities must make getting their data in order a top priority.

It is evident that a vast majority of Shared Services understand this is a major ongoing concern, with most being driven by the need to support the business with analytics that will enable improved decision-making abilities and drive improved intelligent automation processing.

For many companies, the objective is still unclear, and they continue to struggle to establish a proper data strategy.


Would you like to discover more about how you and your business can get the most out of Intelligent Automation?

Read SSON’s full Benchmarking Report here to find out more!