Jonathon Glennie was introduced to Service Automation technology and methodology in 2009. He was working as a consultant for a US based national food and beverage retailer with 325 stores in 17 states. He was a leader on a team, which sourced, planned and deployed a service automation technology solution to manage facilities support functions for the stores. This solution is still working and has been rolled to other formats within the company, very successfully.

Jonathon’s background includes strategy, tactical and operational planning in support of Corporate Real Estate functions and IT. He has recognized the value and benefit of service automation, digital transformation and the evolution of digital automation technology. We sit down to talk with him and learn his thought about service automation.

1. What is the first time you heard about service automation?

In 2009, as I was working as a consultant for a US based national retailer with 325 stores in 17 states.

2. What is your opinion on the impact of service automation on technology and people’s lives?

First of all, the term Service Automation is a recent one, having grown out of the automation world, and only until recently (1990’s) has it been applied to the delivery of services internally and externally for organizations. The impact is still taking shape and in its infancy. Some of the impacts currently, include cost savings, improved CX/UX, speed to market, higher functioning for employees, due to freeing up time from repetitive tasks and improved competitive advantage in the marketplace for organizations.

3. What do you see as the main benefits of service automation?

Based on my answer above, you can see there are many benefits, depending on the goals of the service automation approach. As technology continues to evolve and transform organizations, two benefits standout; first, the culture of the organization will change to one of rapid change and ability to adapt to market forces quickly and second, the technology transformation of automation will drive new roles and capabilities within organizations.

4. How do you apply service automation in your organization?

As a consultant and advisor to organizations on digital transformation, RPA and other forms of digital automation, my approach is from a design thinking perspective. I listen and attempt to understand what a client is trying to accomplish and then provide feedback on my understanding. Once on the same plane of understanding, I will develop a solution to meet and exceed client goal(s). Service Automation is an enabling tool an organization can use to move into a new way of thinking and operating.  Applying the Service Automation Framework will move an organization to another plane of understanding how to compete in the marketplace.

5. What do you think are key technology considerations to achieve service automation?

The one consideration which comes to mind, to enabling service automation is IT legacy systems. These systems require a lot of time and labor to support and change. Some have API’s and some do not. Even with API’s it can take significant time to integrate for proper functionality. From a perspective of choosing a service automation solution there are many considerations, including corporate goals, business unit needs, corporate culture, cost, risk, speed to market, in-house capabilities and many more. These need to be viewed from a holistic approach.

6. What are key lessons that people need to think about when planning for automated services?

The key lessons include; this effort is business driven in close partnership with IT, people culture will need to change and change management will need to be active. Also, key considerations, which come to mind include repetitive time consuming tasks, exceptions, high level human intervention, low cost, low effort, CX/UX quality, stable process. All of these taken together can enable successful planning.

7. What kind of structure or framework do you use to design and deliver automated services?

As a consultant and advisor, need to be flexible and adapt, if necessary, to a client perspective. Depending on the need, and/or solution provided this approach may be different. The five keys include Technology, Governance, Processes, People Culture and Organization. I use the Design Thinking approach. From here the pathway for implementation can follow many formats. I like the Uipath format; Discovery, Build, Manage, Run, Engage and Measure.

8.  How do you manage organizational change when moving towards automated services?

Change management plan! Simple to say, but much planning is needed to change the culture. It starts with the very top in the organization signing on as a “Champion” and not a sponsor. The C-Suite needs to be involved and active participant on communications and engagement. Unless this happens, a transformation strategy will not succeed.A plan to adopt digital automation is a marathon and not a sprint. You need a leader for the long hall.

10. How do you see service automation developing towards the future?

This technology will continue to develop and improve with the application of IA, ML and Hyper-automation. Additionally, the use of service automation will continue to grow in the marketplace and transform organizations. One change, which I believe will take place in the marketplace is the consolidation of service automation firms. This will occur in two ways; one, larger enterprises will purchase automation companies to provide them with in-house capabilities versus building out and two, service automation firms will consolidate with each other to provide a portfolio of capabilities to serve a larger client base.