On this episode of Wonderful Work, Workfellow CMO Lari Numminen sat down with Jaakko Lehtinen, Director at Sogeti and Keynote Speaker, to talk about hyperautomation and how he built a career in technology. We've summarized their interesting chat to help you on your quest for intelligent automation.
From opening envelopes to managing departments
As a kid with a talent for maths and physics, Jaakko knew from a young age that he'd go on to study science. In 2006, he graduated from the Helsinki University of Technology with a master's degree in science, systems analysis, and operational research.
But he got his foot on the first rung of his career ladder even before university began. After graduation, he went to work for OpusCapita, a business and procurement solutions company that employed him to sort paper and envelopes as a teenager. There, he was promoted to global development manager, operations manager, and then the leader of their pioneering robotic process automation services.
A day in the life of Jaakko
Jaakko doesn't really have a "typical day." Some days he advises people on different projects. On other days, he'll be a consultant for a project. He'll even be involved in sales, marketing, and recruitment, as well as managing various people.
"Prioritization and seeing the difference between essential and non-essential tasks are things I constantly do, as well as doing the right things at the right time,"
Jaakko's advice for starting a career in automation
Jaakko worked at OpusCapita from 1998 to 2017 and has seen huge developments in automation during his career. He attributes his success to spending time with people "more intelligent" than himself. Of course, there are many different types of intelligence.
"One of my managers was extremely empathetic. She taught me a lot about working with other people. Another one of my managers was talented at making things happen. I wanted to learn the best parts of their behavior," says Jaakko.
Breaking down the meaning of hyperautomation
The term hyperautomation was coined by Gartner to describe a business-driven, disciplined approach used by organizations to identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.
Some people find this explanation somewhat complicated. For a more bite-sized definition, we asked Jaakko how he explains hyperautomation to his family.
"I must say that I like Gartner's definition," Jaakko explains. "But, to me, hyperautomation means using technology to automate everything you possibly can. But your defining statement about hyperautomation should always show understanding, illustrate that you have the means to develop it and that you have the right tools to identify what you can automate."
When it comes to hyperautomation implementation, Jaakko says: "In the context of knowledge work, many hyperautomation tools are intended for scale. They can often be quickly implemented and easily learned, especially if you're already fluent in IT.
How to successfully implement hyperautomation
Businesses where most employees sit at a desk running processes and business applications are ideal candidates for hyperautomation. "I see a lot of hyperautomation initiatives starting in departments such as payroll, HR, finance, and accounting," Jaakko says.
But there are many different companies with many different needs out there. Jaakko advises avoiding copying processes made by others to remedy their harmful processes.
"Ask yourself questions such as: where do I have the most people? Do I need to recruit more employees? Where are the worst bottlenecks? You'll find what's going well and what needs to be improved in the answers to these questions."
How Jaakko defines RPA to a 7-year-old
"Robotic process automation means that computers are working by themselves. It's as if somebody is using the computer with a mouse and keyboard. Nobody is there to use the computer, but things keep on moving on the screen," Jaakko explains.
The benefits of hyperautomation
Many companies start hyperautomation initiatives to save money. Automatic processes save time, too. "People who already use automation tend to see things working a lot faster than they used to," says Jaakko.
Simple transactions can be completed in almost real time. Sitting in some queue, waiting for humans to process something, is a thing of the past. But the most interesting benefit of hyperautomation is the huge impact you can see on activities you never automated at all.
Take a customer service department, for example. According to Jaakko, "Automating all the obvious and easy things gives employees time to deal with the most difficult tasks requiring human intelligence."
Common mistakes people make with hyperautomation
But many things can go wrong with hyperautomation. And when things go wrong, it's usually a result of bad planning. You need people who are motivated to make automation successful and think deeply about how to automate, what to automate and how to create a backlog of ideas.
"Ownership must be somewhere which enables scale. If the owner is in a single department, you risk automating only one part of the business rather than scaling it in your entire organization," Jaakko explains.
Another common stumbling block is metrics. Many companies believe their process is going well if they have done, for example, 350 automations. But big numbers don't always translate to big results. A lot of automations doesn't necessarily mean success. These metrics need to be measured, and people need to think if the costs and risks of automation outweigh the benefits.
The difference between hyperautomation and RPA
Hyperautomation and RPA are related, but they are not quite the same thing. Here's how Jaakko describes their differences.
"Hyperautomation is more like an ideology that makes you want to automate everything you possibly can. Of course, this only makes sense when you can identify what you want to improve. RPA comes into the picture when you know what you want to improve and what to do. After this, it's time to identify the best tools out there. RPA is only one tool in the larger hyperautomation backpack."
Jaakko’s most interesting RPA cases
Jaakko has worked on many interesting cases, but perhaps the most famous is the case with the Finnish government. "We started to implement RPA quite early in the Finnish government service center for their finance and HR departments. This was groundbreaking as the Finnish government was one of the first public sector organizations to use RPA."
In the private sector, Jaakko worked with a company that knew the project costs were higher than the expected working time savings. But they were confident that having a real-time view of their purchasing processes would generate multi-million euro benefits.
Find out more about Jaakko on the Wonderful Work podcast
If you'd like to learn more about Jaakko and his view on hyperautomation, check out Jaakko and Lari's full chat on the Wonderful Work Podcast.