Navigating the future: How Business Process Automation helps to master 4 global megatrends

MARCH 13, 2023

Summary: Enterprises have often responded to crises in a reactive manner which is generally forced. Because these actions are not forethought of, it can lead to disarrayed efforts and financial mismanagement leading to cost cutting measures once the peak of crisis is over. Seismic change does not happen overnight but ignoring a disruption in its early stages typically makes it tough to make amends later. To capture the opportunities, it’s critical to understand what, when and how key trends will impact your strategic ambitions in the coming years.


  • Identify near-term and future trends that can have a serious impact on the business operating environment and start leveraging automation and digitization to tackle them.

  • Newer challenges call for a renewed approach to software. Over-reliance on outdated technology or methodology when dealing with newer and modern challenges can be a recipe for irrelevance.

  • Open up to newer technologies and disruptions by taking small steps now to be ready later. This will help the business to remain relevant in uncertain and changing times. For example, do not think AI will take decades to disrupt your industry, it can be in the next few years.

Enterprises were greatly challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic and were forced to embark on a much-belated digitization and automation journey. From building automated loan management systems, and office space reservation systems, to remote customer support, enterprises were pushed to embrace digitization and automation. Fast-forward to the post covid world, and we see much more severe challenges affecting enterprises worldwide. Let us look at some very important mega trends that emerged from a combination of societal and technological factors to see how these challenges can offer great opportunities for enterprises.


1. Geopolitics

From a deadly war in Europe, and territorial tensions in Southeast Asia, to spy balloons in North America - the world is going through an unprecedented time where uncertainty looms. The very idea of globalization and global order is being challenged.

What does it mean for enterprises?

  • Disrupted supply chains

  • Recessionary trends in demand

  • Anti-globalization

  • Ultra-sensitive messaging on social media

All these challenges open great opportunities and use cases for the organization to go full bazooka on Business Process Automation initiatives.


What opportunities does it yield for companies?

Creating a digital twin of your supply chain: Use Business Process Automation to implement a process-driven digital twin by listening to the events occurring at the process level and deriving the digital twin out of that. This can be helpful, especially in the manufacturing industry where a Digital Twin can help optimize the supply chain, reduce, and predict costs, build a robust supplier network, and enable data-driven decisions at ground level.

Next-gen customer experience: Leverage BPA to connect disparate systems that hamper customer experiences. It is not the duty of your customers to realize that after 3 weeks from filing a request, your customer service department is unable to access the response from the demand fulfillment team (e-commerce) or credit check team (banking), or insurance settlement team (insurance), all because the systems do not talk to each other. BPA can help give a seamless end user experience to your customers by enabling you to design complex scenarios using case modeling, process modeling, and decision modeling.

Cost optimization: BPA can significantly impact cost optimization by automating repetitive, low-value tasks and streamlining processes. By reducing errors, improving efficiency, and enhancing agility, BPA can help organizations reduce operational costs, enhance productivity and drive business growth, making it an essential tool for digital transformation.

Building plug-and-play digital capabilities: Prepare for the uncertain environment by building smart reusable digital capabilities backed by automation. These capabilities come in handy at times of crisis when quick response becomes a competitive advantage. For example, by using BPA you can build a standardized process for customer onboarding. This process can be implemented across different product lines or business units within an organization when needed.

2. Aging Population

With the median age of the population rising significantly due to better healthcare and declining fertility rates, the working population is set to decline at an unprecedented rate across the globe, barring some exceptions, such as India and China. As reported by the World Health Organization “there are more than 700 million people aged 65 and over worldwide and more than 240 million of them live in the Western Pacific Region. This number is expected to double by 2050. The Region is also experiencing unprecedented ‘depth’ of the aging population, with the number of people aged 75 years and above also growing significantly. Currently, there are more than 84 million people 75 years and older in the Region, with this number expected to triple by 2050”. This means that with time labor shortage will be an acute problem and this is the time to act.

What does it mean for enterprises?

  • Skilled labor shortage

  • Inability to grow exponentially

  • Changed product mix


What opportunities does it yield for companies?

Autonomous operations: comprehensively plan to minimize human inputs in critical operations in the enterprise. The first step in this journey is implementing Business Process Automation solutions which can make many parts of your operations touch-free. BPA can help enterprises tackle the aging population issue by streamlining workflows and reducing the reliance on manual labor. As more workers retire and leave the workforce, businesses are faced with the challenge of maintaining productivity levels while dealing with a shortage of skilled workers.

Productivity: Digitization and automation can help streamline workflows and eliminate bottlenecks, increasing productivity. Specifically, Business Process Automation can help businesses maintain their output levels even with a shrinking workforce.

Enhancing collaboration: BPA can help facilitate collaboration between workers, regardless of location. This can help older workers share their knowledge and expertise with younger workers, ensuring important institutional knowledge is not lost.

3. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

One of the biggest megatrends of the 21st century is AI and ML. From manufacturing to services to telecom, the rise of AI and ML is transforming the complete business landscape, and enterprises not focusing on this technology risk becoming irrelevant in the next 5-7 years.

As AI becomes more prevalent, it is changing the way businesses operate and compete, and those that fail to embrace it may find themselves falling behind. The new era of generative AI opens opportunities in multiple areas of business-like research and development, product design, content creation, and financial analysis amongst others. With that said, it is also important to note that generative AI doesn’t just present opportunities, but it comes with its threats too. Potential risks include the creation of fabricated media, copyright violations, and other harmful uses of generative AI technology that may be directed at your organization.

What does this mean for enterprises?

  • Disruptions at an unprecedented pace threatening established business models

  • Risk of falling behind: No AI/ML adoption means lagging competitors who use these technologies for ops and customer experience

  • Inefficient Ops: Without AI/ML, enterprises risk outdated and manual processes, leading to inefficiency, higher costs, and slower turnaround

  • Poor Decisions: No data-driven insights from AI/ML can lead to poor decision-making, missed opportunities, and bad outcomes


What opportunities does it yield for companies?

Build an AI talent pipeline: Find evangelists in your organization who understand the importance of AI. Try to build a team that chooses the best opportunities or use cases with AI and empower them to build a minimum viable product (MVP).

Combine the power of BPA and AI to tackle some already known use cases, such as the following:

  • Customer Service: Combining BPA and AI-powered response systems can help automate customer service inquiries and streamline customer support processes.

  • HR Management: AI algorithms can complement the workflow design and automation capabilities of a BPA tool to automate the end-to-end hiring process including resume/CV screening, interview scheduling, offer, and onboarding.

  • Supply Chain Optimization: AI algorithms can work in tandem with BPA tools to optimize order processing, automate forms and procedures, transportation modes, and delivery times, reducing costs and improving efficiency.

  • Personalization: A combination of AI algorithms and automation technology can help personalize end user messaging, automating messages and product recommendations based on customer preferences and behavior, improving engagement and conversion rates.

This will help build confidence and visibility within the enterprise that would be required to garner support once an opportunity for a much more complex use comes along in the future.

4. Software Reimagined

Many enterprises still rely on traditional software development approaches that can leave end users and operations disconnected from the process. However, the landscape of software development has significantly evolved in recent years. Cycle times have shortened and end users are increasingly involved in all steps of the process.

This shift has been enabled by the emergence of low-code development methodologies that promote the co-creation of solutions and provide greater agility and flexibility in the software development process. There are multiple benefits of low-code development in your process automation initiatives, such as:

  • Reduced reliance on external support

  • Increased involvement of end users in the buying decisions and co-creation of solutions

  • Improved execution of digitization and automation projects, with greater efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and adoption

  • Enhanced reusability and composability of modular software components, which can be leveraged across multiple contexts to accelerate development and reduce costs

What does this mean for enterprises?

  • Faster turnaround time for new digital offerings, boosting business agility and outcomes

  • Reduced costs from IT development can improve spends on R&D to gain market share


What opportunities does it yield for companies?

Innovation: Innovate faster with a more agile, collaborative development process that involves end users and reduces time-to-market for new digital solutions.

Scale more effectively: by empowering business users to take ownership of development initiatives, reducing the burden on IT teams and enabling greater efficiency and scalability.

Customer experience: Improve customer experience by developing and deploying software solutions that are aligned with business needs and user requirements.

Tushar Srivastava

BPM enthusiast and former Gartner Analyst with a decade of experience in business process and requirement gathering, process mapping and management.

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