ASUG and Precisely Research on the State of Automation Precisely, a global leader in data integrity, and ASUG, the America’s SAP User Group have released a new study. The 2023 State of SAP Automation Report looked at the role of automation and trusted data in digital transformation.

The report found that 87% of leaders agreed on the importance of automation, with 55% rating it as important or very important. However, 95% admitted their business has low to medium levels of adoption. Why? It seems that digital transformation goals are being impacted by data, process, and organisational complexity.

John Reda, Senior Vice President – Product Management at Precisely.
John Reda, Senior Vice President – Product Management at Precisely.

John Reda, senior vice president of product management at Precisely, said, “By eliminating manual data creation and management processes, companies can improve speed, agility, and crucially, the integrity of their data.

“To achieve successful digital transformation, organisations must first take steps toward delivery of trusted data to their business through fully governed automation solutions.”

Organisations failing to take advantage of automation

Automation and hyperautomation have become buzzwords across IT for several years. Its benefits are widely accepted, although the route to getting there, and exactly what should be automated, varies widely.

Process automation has been one of the main focal points for much of the conversation. This is where low-code and no-code vendors have targeted their products. Yet despite this,  35% of respondents said that very few processes are automated in their business. A further 13% revealed that they haven’t even started automating processes.

50% of respondents blamed the complexity of business processes for holding up process automation. The more data-intensive the process and the more users that are involved, the less chance there is for automation.

Another reason not to automate processes (58%) is the complexity and governance of data. What is not clear is whether the governance issues are down to regulatory compliance or problems with internal controls.

A spokesperson for ASUG Research said, “Automation drives efficiency at scale – something ASUG members are continuously trying to improve.

“It’s encouraging to see the results that organisations report when they successfully implement automation, with 74% saying it delivers efficiency, and the same percentage saying that it reduces manual or lower-level work.”

Poor data quality and data integrity are a major issue

Unsurprisingly, poor data quality and data integrity are cited as a major issue. Data quality is not a new challenge. Organisations still spend significant sums on cleaning and enriching data before using it operationally.

Data introduced into the main systems of record is often not clean. That creates a problem with data integrity which has a knock-on effect. The biggest effect is to create questions about the trustworthiness of the data. It also results in organisations repeating cleaning and enrichment processes, further wasting money and time.

One solution to this is to remove the manual steps involved in data creation and management. By fully automating all the processes involved, organisations increase trust in, and use of, data.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean?

Data quality has held companies back for decades from maximising the value of their data. Yet despite the tools available to them, few get all the benefits from having clean and trusted data.

This report puts that into a sharper perspective for many organisations. The need to continuously digitally transform the business is a competitive issue. If you don’t do it, your competitors will and you will be left behind.

What will surprise many about this report is not the recognition of the importance of automation. It will be the number of organisations, 95%, that admit they have failed to properly capitalise on automation. Some may be holding out for a greater introduction of AI to fix the problem. Unfortunately, AI is dependent on the quality of the underlying data making this a false strategy.

The report does give some solutions to the problem. However, the key issue here is how to fix a problem that remains endemic in how we create and manage data. It’s time for organisations to properly fix their data or watch their competitors and challengers, leave them behind.

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