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Automation a point of difference for APJ enterprises - report

By Catherine Knowles
Fri 17 Jun 2022

There has been a massive shift in which departments are using automation tools and creating those automations, according to new research from Workato, the enterprise automation platform.

The company’s second annual Work Automation Index focused on trends that shaped automation over the past year.

During a time when the world is rapidly changing and how we work is continually evolving, the researchers find that automation has become a great equaliser, creating an opportunity to be more efficient and deliver better business outcomes.

On this, Workato discovered that the role of IT has shifted from delivering projects to being an enabler of the business. Overall, 66% of organisations now have five or more departments using automation, and the number of organisations with seven departments automating has nearly tripled since 2019.

Workato CIO Carter Busse says, “It’s amazing to see that IT teams are now becoming the less dominant automation creators within organisations. This demonstrates that when you have the right guardrails, the right governorship, and the right tools in place, business users can create automations safely.

"From finance becoming the most automated department to HR seeing the value in automation to help improve the employee experience, we'll continue to see this type of growth and adoption as automation becomes more accessible across departments.”

This years report identified the following key findings:

Enterprises globally are tapping into the power of automation. For the APJ region, financial automations are a big focus with record-to-report growing 569% in the past year, and procure-to-pay growing 514%. 

Customer support operations is a big automation growth area in APJ. As retail continues to migrate online, the region is turning to automation to meet the ongoing need for customers to easily return items. Returns and refunds automations increased by a massive 1005% for our user base in APJ.

Departments outside of IT are automating more than ever before. The number of organisations with seven departments automating has nearly tripled since 2019. Overall, 23% of automations were built by non-technical users in business operations roles, the highest of any persona in both business and IT.

Finance has risen to the top as the most automated department. Surpassing IT for the first time, finance departments made up 26% of all automations. Order-to-cash continues to be one of the top automated processes with record-to-report automation also seeing significant growth with a 290% increase. In the APJ region, record-to-report and procure-to-pay are the top two most automated processes.

HR automation continues to be a focus with recruiting automations growing 316%. As the competition for top talent continues and work from anywhere becomes the norm, HR teams are using automation to stand out and improve the employee experience right from the start.

Data is creating a way for IT to add strategic value to the business. Businesses are striving to become more data-driven and to use their data to make real-time decisions. The DataOps function is one of the top departments with 3x growth in automations in the past year.

Workato head of research, future of the enterprise, Massimo Pezzini says, “Business leaders increasingly recognise that pervasive use of automation technology leads to improved efficiency, greater business agility, faster innovation, and shorter time to value.

"Consequently, we’re seeing a foundational shift in how IT and business decision makers are embracing automation tools. A business-led, IT-enabled democratised model will become the dominant approach to automation over the next five years.”

Designed to uncover the workflows used and the role automation plays across departments and functions, the 2022 Work Automation Index analysed 900 midsize to enterprise Workato customers who use automation in their businesses.

The team looked at all of the automated workflows created at these companies from February 2021 to January 2022, as well as compared to the period from February 2020 to January 2021 for year-over-year trends.

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