In a recent episode of Wonderful Work, we chatted about intelligent automation with Pedro Berrocoso. Pedro is an intelligent automation and digital transformation leader based in Switzerland and has held many strategic roles in global companies. In his last role, Pedro led the Center of Excellence for Digital Innovation and Intelligent Automation at Takeda. He is also active on LinkedIn as a thought leader.
What makes Pedro wonderful in the workplace
According to Pedro's colleagues and family members, Pedro is good at bridging cultures, a skill he attributes to growing up in Switzerland with a Spanish heritage. "Some people think I inspire many of my newer and younger colleagues and help them get ahead by offering coaching and support," Pedro explains.
How Pedro ended up working in process excellence
Pedro has devoted the first 15 years of his career to improving people's lives at work by making processes smoother with technology. Pedro started working in procurement, but after studying business administration, he wanted to enter a corporate life, so he took up a role in operational procurement in a Swiss company based in Finland. There, he was able to work on his passion for technology and solutions and began to work on system implementation.
"Things lead from one place to another. I think people don't necessarily always have a linear career," Pedro explains.
Procurement and its reputation as a strict industry
According to Pedro, people who work in procurement don't see it as a strict industry. "In my view, the role of someone in procurement is not fully understood," Pedro says.
"It's about fulfilling the company's needs, not just having a supply of goods and services at the right time. It's also about building relationships with suppliers whose v values match with the company.
Often the requirements being imposed on the procurement process from different stakeholders including compliance, influence how the process is structured, which some people believe is strict."
Pedro's view on digitalization in procurement
"In the past, a lot of work has really been focused on things such as the execution process, such as Requisition to Pay, etc.," Pedro says. These days, it's much more about creating a user experience. "The digitalization of procurement can be supported with solutions like automation and artificial intelligence to provide teams with insights and recommendations."
Pedro's work at Takeda
Takeda is a global pharmaceutical manufacturing company established way back in 1781. Pedro worked there for over seven years and learned a set of values for running a business to fulfill the patient's needs and build relationships with stakeholders. "Having a clear purpose is nice, because it offers a clear view of where you're heading and how you can improve patients' lives," says Pedro.
What western companies can learn from Japanese business practices
Japanese businesses have a sustainable perspective. "It's not just about thinking about today. It's about thinking about how you can leave the world a better place. It's also important to create alignment when it comes to objectives and targets and how you go about achieving them," Pedro explains.
How Takeda shaped Pedro's view on operational excellence
In previous companies, Pedro was used to centralized approaches, which were methodologically run by central teams and then adopted by regional teams. But Japanese culture taught him that, even when walking on different paths, people can achieve the same results when they are listened to.
Leading the Center of Excellence for Digital Innovation and Intelligent Automation
"It was created to harness the value and benefits of technology to use as a tool to improve our processes and be closer to our patients," Pedro says.
Its original aim was to discover process opportunities for automation, digitalization, and artificial intelligence to structure an approach to help his team make the best choices. Over time, the project became about bringing forward innovative solutions, enhancing the employee experience, and developing better processes.
Pedro's explanation of intelligent automation
“To put it simply, intelligent automation is a set of approaches and technology solutions that emulate human behavior and work. The solutions do what humans do every day on computer applications to free up people from repetitive, mundane activities to give them time for high-value work or augment the capabilities of employees," Pedro explains.
The biggest opportunities in intelligent automation
In Pedro's view, the most significant opportunity companies can get from intelligent automation is simplifying processes with repetitive activities and resource constraints. Intelligent automation also improves the customer and employee experience, especially in industries where there is a lot of work going on and systems that need to be integrated.
How to introduce more intelligent automation into global business operations
Start by understanding all the processes contained in a specific function and think about the user journey. Then think about the potential growth opportunities within your organization and how automation can solve bottlenecks.
"Finding opportunities requires stakeholder engagement and alignment during the discovery phase." According to Pedro, companies should think about how things will look if they remove all their current processes and only use technology to help alleviate, for example, repetitive work. Thinking about this shines a light on areas where human input is needed.
Benefits companies get from investing in process intelligence
In the past, companies could only find out how their processes were running with manual mapping, interviewing, and gathering anecdotal evidence. "Process intelligence gives you a systematic approach to help uncover the reality of how processes are actually run. Organizations see these processes with their own eyes through flows provided by process intelligence," Pedro says.
How human-centric intelligent automation impacts the workplace
"For me, it has always been crucial to making sure that people are part of the change," Pedro explains. People are part of digital transformation as well as the journey the company is on. An important approach is taking away anxieties people have that technologies like this will reduce jobs or change company culture, etc. By getting involved, people can drive change and be equipped with the necessary skills and become empowered."
Pedro's explanation of citizen development
"Citizen development is about giving people outside a center of excellence of IT the necessary skills to develop solutions within the remit of guardrails and standards given by a central center of excellence," Pedro explains.
Citizen developers are people who have jobs that aren't necessarily focused on these activities. Their roles may focus on operations, marketing, finance, etc. But they can devote certain parts of their work week to building solutions to help themselves and others to be more automated and augmented with virtual assistance.
Pedro’s program to improve digital literacy
"I believe digital literacy is quite crucial at this time," Pedro explains. We have a lot of talent constraints in organizations, while at the same time we have different generations in the workplace, we have digital natives, digital immigrants, we have Gen Z's, etc."
Digital literacy enables people with different skill sets and understandings of technology with a common understanding of technology within their industry, what the technology solutions are about, and how they can best serve the purpose of a company.
Pedro's new career in intelligent automation
Right now, Pedro is advising companies to set-up improve their centers of excellence for intelligent automation and their programs for citizen development and uncover potential for process intelligence for digitalization for automation and AI.
"I am passionate about supporting organizations to get the best out of new technologies and combining process knowledge with human centricity," Pedro says.
Follow Pedro on LinkedIn for more information
Pedro is very active on LinkedIn and often publishes exciting posts about technology, intelligent automation, and digital communication. "If there are specific questions you have, I can answer them in the comment section or via direct message," Pedro explains.
The Wonderful Work podcast
If you'd like to learn more about Pedro and his views on intelligent automation, check out Pedro's and Lari's full chat on the Wonderful Work podcast.