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APAC Enterprises Drive Digital Transformation with Automation During COVID-19

To maintain business continuity and sustainable growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading enterprises in Asia Pacific (APAC) are investing heavily in digital transformation. According to market research company IDC, Information Communications and Technology Spending (ICT) spending in Asia is forecasted to reach $950 billion in 2021, which is a 7.1% increase from 2020.

In addition, despite a general decline in spending due to the pandemic, demand for technology that directly impacts business continuity — such as task automation and cloud computing — remained strong.

So, why are APAC enterprises investing in automation?

By viewing COVID-19 as an opportunity to innovate and redesign their business models, leading APAC enterprises are investing in automation to enhance business resilience and recover faster from the pandemic.

Automation plays a major role in these aspects by streamlining day-to-day business processes, while enabling enterprises to meet ambitious business goals. With automation, enterprises can eliminate repetitive, low-value work, decrease human errors and allow employees to focus on creative, higher-value tasks that may not be automatable. This results in a better employee experience, free from the tedium and hassle of manual tasks.

Workato, a leading enterprise automation, and integration platform is a key player in the automation space. Within Workato’s APAC clientele, 75% said that having too many siloed and manual processes was the greatest challenge they faced before automation, as too much time was spent on building and maintaining custom-coded solutions for these processes. This impacted their ability to scale the business sustainably.

Automation presents a clear solution for APAC businesses to streamline problematic processes, integrate numerous applications and ultimately drive digital transformation with long-term business impact.

How are APAC enterprises using automation?

A common use case for APAC enterprises is enhancing employee experience with automation. Cycle & Carriage, the leading automotive group in South East Asia, is an example.

To keep employees engaged, the company’s HR and Rewards team run a rewards program where employees can book physical passes to visit tourist attractions with their families in Singapore, at no cost.

However, these passes were shared across the company and had to be delivered to employees directly each time they wanted to use one. There was a 3-day downtime from delivering the passes, and it was a highly manual process that required the HR and Rewards team to account for the passes at all times.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it not only took more time for the passes to be delivered to employees — there were also more hands involved in the process, which was counterproductive to hygiene practices.

What the process looked like before automation:

To eliminate the manual process and downtime from waiting for the passes, Cycle & Carriage used Workato to build a Corporate Pass Booking Bot which automated the booking pass process. With this bot, employees could reserve bookings, check their booking status, and generate a booking letter — in just a few clicks.

What the process looks like, 100% automated:

Employees now have 24/7 access to the Corporate Pass Booking Bot, and can easily secure an attraction pass on their desired reservation date, within minutes. Since the introduction of the bot, more unique bookings were made, with zero downtime and errors.

Automation for everyone, including Business & IT users.

With the rise in low-code / no-code automation platforms like Workato, non-IT professionals, what we call Citizen Integrators, can comfortably automate their business workflows and own these automations. It doesn’t matter which team you are from – IT, HR, Marketing, Finance – with Workato, anyone can create automations that make a difference for your teams and businesses.

In Cycle & Carriage’s case, a working prototype bot was ready within just a day. Their HR and Rewards team, while not developers, also learned how to build the actual workflow themselves, under guidance from the Workato team. Now, their HR and Rewards team no longer has to depend on IT to troubleshoot or manage their processes.

How have APAC enterprises benefited from automation?

Besides enhancing the employee experience, APAC enterprises have also benefited from automation in other ways.

1. Improved data integrity and accuracy.

APAC enterprises like Altus Financial and KyoChon used automation to transfer data between systems. Initially, their teams had to toggle between 2 different systems to manually transfer data. When both companies decided to automate the data transfer process without manual data entry, it eliminated the potential for human error. As a result, data integrity improved and their respective teams could collect data accurately and efficiently.

2. Ability to scale processes quickly, with the business.

Grab was in a state of hypergrowth and hiring rapidly, and needed to scale their employee onboarding process in a more efficient way. Their IT team had typically taken about 2 hours to complete the new employee onboarding process manually. With Workato to support, they used JumpCloud (a cloud directory platform) to automatically deploy a bundle of apps to the PC, with BitLocker encryption in place. Time taken to complete IT set-up for new employees went down dramatically from 2 hours to just a couple of minutes.

Low-Code/No-Code Automation will be among the most transformational technologies of the 21st century.

The Forbes Technology Council has predicted the rise of the citizen developer movement in 2022. As business leaders forge ahead in a post-COVID world, low-code/no-code automation will lead the way in transforming how enterprises run everything from people operations to sales.

The global low-code development platform market size is projected to grow at an unstoppable rate of 44.4% in 2022 to $27.23 billion. By allowing Citizen Integrators to create their own automations, low-code/no-code platforms like Workato democratise automation and allow non-technical users to own their own work processes and reimagine the way they work.

The world as we know it has fundamentally changed since the pandemic hit. Automation will continue to play a critical role in helping APAC enterprises to build robust, efficient workflows as they recover, respond and rise to new challenges. While it’s not a silver bullet for business growth, democratising the ability to automate will empower employees as they grow and scale with their organisations, build resilience and work towards quicker recovery.

Interested to see what Workato can do for your enterprise? Click here to find out more!



Allan Teng is the Managing Director and VP, APAC and Japan, of Workato Pte Ltd.

Workato is part of our Batch 4 Global Innovation Alliance Program in Indonesia.

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