As organizations grow, business processes and systems tend to become more complex. Companies are in constant search of tools that will boost agility, helping them meet growing customer expectations. Most business have understood the importance of automation and have been taking strategic steps towards ensuring it is underway. A research paper by MarketsAndMarkets.com stated that the business process automation market will grow from $9.8 billion in 2020 to $19.6 billion by 2026.
From a traditional standpoint, the automation of a process was primarily to lower operational costs. Today, process automation is being packaged as a consumable service that can be deployed across several processes to ensure standardization. It helps with integrating eco-systems and numerous value chains across the company, helping a business discover newer opportunities. Where automation of processes was once considered important only to some aspects of a business, today it can be implemented across an organization and across several industries.
According to Grand View Research, there is an accelerated demand for automation of workflow management systems. This is a result of digitization and a concentrated focus on streamlining business processes. The forecast is for the market to grow from $4.8 billion in 2018 to over $26 billion in 2025.
What Slack and Mulesoft Bring to Process Automation?
Salesforce acquired Slack recently and it is a 360 degree platform that helps create a single source of truth or data for every individual connected to the business – from employees to management to vendors and customers. It connects all the apps that each of these people use to plug their workflows to the main system. Mulesoft is an integration platform that assists businesses in connecting with data, a range of applications and devices, across environments and settings – on-premise or in the Cloud.
During the pandemic, when almost every sector had to switch to remote working and move their workspace and processes online, there was a surge in demand for a digital-first workspace that was easily and securely available. Slack played a huge role in ensuring business continuity across the globe. Based on research it was found that new Slack workspaces, presumably created by businesses themselves, increased by hundreds of percent between March 12 and March 25th, 2020. They also found that during weekdays, the cumulative active use of Slack for users worldwide was in excess of one billion.
Mulesoft has been vital to organizations that are working on digital transformation. As a connector to Slack, Mulesoft helps companies create what are known as composable enterprises – where all applications, devices and data are structured like building blocks, ensuring agility and efficiency. With all applications connected effectively, the workflow system functions as a whole, creating an efficient application network. Along with Mulesoft, Slack connects this network of applications to the different people that need to work with them. Every time an action is triggered, everyone in the network connected to it is in the loop.
Slack and Mulesoft ensure that there is better collaboration and integration. Slack functions on an out-of-box integration system and come with several thousand apps in its directory. These apps are intuitive, easy to use and are a great value addition. Within this eco-system of apps, several integrations can be built between Slack and other systems to address specific issues. This ability to build connections is further simplified and enabled with Mulesoft, allowing complex multi-system integrations to be created.
Mulesoft’s capabilities are particularly seen where advanced customization is necessary. Slack’s workflow creator is not geared to handle such requirements but Mulesoft’s Anypoint Platform steps in here to give IT developers the base they need to work on customizations. With the Anypoint Platform, developers can create complex and multiple-use integrations that provide an extension to Slack’s capabilities. It gives an enterprise the flexibility of custom code and being able to roll out your own coding.
Mulesoft and Slack Use Cases
Let’s start with an example from the healthcare industry. Despite the automation technology in the field of medicine, a 2022 Medscape report titled Physician Burnout and Depression Report says that 47 percent of physicians reported burnout. One of the many causes of this burnout is the extraordinary number of hours doctors have to spend on filing paperwork. While the average patient visit time remains the same, doctors are spending up to 15.6 hours a week on paperwork and administrative duties – a trend that is reflective of the past decade or so.
The lack of uniform automation plagues almost every industry and this results in a loss of productivity. Bringing in a system that is powered by Mulesoft and Slack can ensure that a single data entry point – for example here, patient medical history, filled in by the patient himself or the doctor examining him, is filed away securely. Over multiple visits, all the doctors need to do is update the file rather than go through entire process of filling medical history forms again. These can be pulled up by medical personnel in the emergency department if necessary; by specialists that the patient may get referred to by his physician, and by the various procedure departments that the patient has to visit. At every level, the paperwork is updated, and the latest, truest version is available to every stakeholder involved in patient care. A study by Harvard Business Review found that almost 50 percent of the initial business process re-engineering software adopters recounted perceptible developments in their top-line performance. One of these companies realized a 20-fold increase in revenue, discerning new market segments that stood a chance to convert two and a half times more. The business was also able to find market segments that were 2.5 times more likely to convert.
The application of such automation of business processes to the medical field has had proven track records of substantial benefits. There is an increased efficiency of managing appointments by almost 60 percent. It also has a 71 percent positive impact on revenue growth in 2021.
Easing the Process of Addressing Customer Escalations: Every organization has its teams roughly categorized into those who are part of the front office, those in the middle and the back-office support teams. In most cases, each of these teams has its system of functioning and in many cases, platforms on which they handle cases, solve problems and manage their projects. The onus then falls on the service teams to ensure there is a collaboration between each of the departments to help solve a customer escalation. For example, a service agent may be helping a customer resolve an issue in the service cloud, but he needs support from the technical team. All the agent has to do is raise a ticket through Jira for the technical team right from the service cloud. Mulesoft Composer helps with this and there is no need to switch between screens. The technical team is instantly notified and all relevant information is immediately available to them. Further, Slack will notify the original sales representative of this issue, ensuring transparency and better preparedness in anticipating similar problems.
Seamless Updates on Tickets Raised: Managing customer escalation is just the first step in the creation of an intelligent workflow and business process automation. As a next step, ensuring collaboration between teams, various professionals and even those at the managerial level, helps in quicker and better resolution of any customer issue, leading to a better experience. All service teams know the importance of keeping all stakeholders apprised of the progress of a case. MuleSoft Composer and Slack help ease this process by eliminating manual follow-ups. As a continuation to the above example, if the technical team closes the ticket raised on Jira, the updates are shared with the service cloud immediately so that the agent handling the case is aware of it, without needing to check into other systems. When the issue is finally resolved, the agent gets notified via Slack.
Automation of Customer Follow-ups: The first step in the example above is the integration of systems used in different siloes. The next is the creation of automated and smart workflows that keep all stakeholders updated in real-time. The final step is notifying the customer when the issue is resolved. This is done via an automated notification from Slack that is sent to the customer’s private account channel through Slack Connect. This channel provides internal and external collaborators with one place to engage with each other. It brings the client, the sales team, and the service teams all on the same platform.
These examples are an illustration of how Mulesoft and Slack and their various components are enabling strategic digital transformation in the industry.
Creating Platforms for Automation
Research by Camunda titled The State of Process Automation, says that 97% of organizations believe that business process automation is critical to digital transformation. By the year 2025, the digital process automation market is set to grow at a CAGR of 13%, to touch $16.12 billion.
However, automation of processes is increasingly becoming difficult thanks to fragmented systems and sources of data. A basic digital interaction currently uses around 40 data and system siloes, making automation hard and increasing the gap between all stakeholders. What is needed is a single secure base that enables composability and automation.
The average enterprise has more than 800 separate applications or systems in use. In most cases, less than one-third of these are integrated. While the IT team may require the latest data to create real-time, digital-first experiences, it may be spread over a range of technologies, on-premise or in the cloud.
Here is where MuleSoft Anypoint Platform can come in to serve as a unified platform. It merges integration power, management of APIs and the process of automation on a secure and compliant base. It ensures that all stakeholders – customers, employees and related vendors can make the most of the digital-first experiences.
A case in point is Cisco Meraki which has used MuleSoft Anypoint Platform for the integration of its data and system silos. This has made the business a composable one considering its API-centric approach to integration. It has succeeded in making the enterprise agile and efficient. As a composable business, Cisco Meraki now has secure and safely accessible siloed data and systems that serve as building blocks via APIs, enabling innovation across the board. Composability and automation go hand-in-hand as one enables the other.
Another option that IT departments have to ensure composability is to use Mulestack Slack Connector to bring together multiple siloes through APIs directly into Slack. With this, various teams can take up tasks such as rectifying sales forecasts, saving inventory or updating service tickets across all business apps in Slack. This can be done by triggering all the necessary systems in the workflow. Productivity increases across the enterprise and all existing applications and systems are optimized too. Here below is an example of how this multi-tier automation across the departments of sales, service and human resources can take place
Ensuring Sales Forecast: Multi-tier automation can help with streamlining sales operations. The accuracy of the sales forecast can be done by using Slack to notify accounting teams when orders placed or revenues received are lower than earlier predicted in Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.
Upgrade Customer Experiences: Speed up the process of solving issues by automating the creation of ServiceNow tickets or Jira issues. This can be done with the help of Salesforce Service Cloud or by using Zendesk case updates and also notifying specific teams through Slack.
Improve Employee Experiences: When new employees are onboarded, or existing profiles are updated, automatically sync these from enterprise systems such as Salesforce or Zendesk to systems such as Oracle or Workday. All relevant stakeholders can be immediately informed through Slack once done.
Levels of Maturity in Process Automation
These case studies are all references to business process automation and have happens across three separate levels of maturity. Understanding the differences between each of these levels is essential to creating unbeatable customer experiences:
Business process automation (BPA) – This is where technology is used to improve business processes while addressing a specific pain point for any of the stakeholders. This could be for the customer, the employee or a related vendor. Pain points could be slow processes or incorrect experiences.
Business process optimization (BPO) – This is a stage where business processes are designed afresh, after a detailed review, to remove any redundant steps or tasks.
Business process integration (BPI) – This is the stage where several layers of processes across an enterprise are automated. Here activities that are common across processes are standardized via shared services. This helps every kind of stakeholder.
How Process Automation Adds Value to Your Business
Here’s a look at how process automation can make a significant difference to the way your business functions and gives a competitive edge in the market.
- Boost Employee Productivity and Efficiency: With automation, the additional cost of multi-tasking is significantly reduced. A Salesforce survey of IT leaders found that 73% of them observed a savings of 10%-50% in time employees spent on manual tasks. The same survey found that 57% of leaders agreed that automation saved 10% to 50% of costs that went into manual processing. MuleSoft Anypoint Platform along with Slack can reduce employees having to context switch between applications as it creates automated multi-system workflows.
- Removing Costs of Licensing: A critical mandate for CIOs is reducing the cost of technology that an enterprise uses. Besides savings of time and finance, there is a significant saving on software licensing. For example, if a company has 1000 service requests coming in per month and has 25 people to handle these, moving as high as 90% of these requests to automated processing done through an API will require a smaller number of employees dealing with requests personally. This brings down the number of licenses you need to purchase, thereby reducing costs. When Salesforce and Netsuite are integrated, changes made by a sales rep in one system get updated automatically in the other and the rep does not need to exit Slack for this.
- Better Collaboration Between Teams: When an enterprise works with a completely integrated technology architecture, it helps employees put into context the many systems of engagement such as Slack. This enables better collaborative efforts. Employees will have access to quality information to make better business decisions and a company can realize a full return on investment on all the technology introduced.
Automated business processes are critical to ensure an enterprise is flexible, works efficiently and is sustainable in its approaches, all the while remaining competitive. With automation tools such as Mulesoft and Slack, companies will be able to match the accelerated pace of technological growth and customer demand.