Technology, media/entertainment and telecommunications (TMT) companies that optimize their back office will be positioned for successful digital transformation. Intelligent automation can be a game-changer, enabling organizations to embrace transformation.

In the digital age, people—your customers—expect transformational experiences. They expect immediate, even predictive, responses to their precise needs and desires. But a remarkable number of TMT companies run critical business functions on decades-old technologies, hobbling attempts to meet customers’ digital expectations. To stay competitive and relevant, organizations must simultaneously succeed in both the old analog world of linear, rule-driven processes—and the new world of dynamic, result-oriented, analysis-driven collaboration.

Piecemeal application of new technologies can sometimes do more harm than good when it comes to customer perception. TMT companies often sing the praises of their digital customer experiences. Yet, at the same time, support functions such as finance can be terribly dated. There’s little value in deploying a blockchain to instantaneously authenticate an invoice payment when the payment requires four to six weeks to process. The more we digitize the front office, the greater the cost, pain and revenue risk of antiquated back-office processes.


So, how can businesses close the digital maturity gap?

Organizations have a metabolism—a tempo at which they operate. In practice, organizations tend to work at multiple speeds. But to remain healthy, the whole organization must operate at the same speed. Since customer-facing processes typically operate faster than back-office processes, a natural tension exists, and organizations can become dysfunctional if they’re not responsive to the market.

(Image source: Shutterstock)

Intelligent automation technologies allow organizations to accelerate functional areas without making substantial changes to systems or processes—and, at the same time, enhance business flexibility by instantly redeploying digital workers as needed. The shift is inevitable, but with intelligent automation it will be less painful.

Businesses on the intelligent automation journey can determine the best approaches for how to scale and optimize their own future. We think about the journey as moving through two key phases:

1. Digital business enablement

The first phase of transformation is becoming digitally enabled. In this phase, intelligent automation technologies such as robotic process automation or machine learning can be used to generate the same results from the same process.

Robots can be programmed to perform many of the same tasks as humans—only 300% to 400% faster, with greater accuracy and consistency. In back-office processes, it isn’t unusual to achieve a 10% to 25% cost reduction with intelligent automation. But it’s also common to see a 70% to 90% reduction in process time in these same automations, without re-engineering underlying processes.


Digitally enabling your business allows the same results to be generated faster and more consistently without substantial cost or disruption. This is an enormous step toward improving and harmonizing an organization’s information metabolism. It also prepares the organization for the next step – transformation.

2. Creating new and unexpected outcomes

A hallmark of digital transformation is that it generates new, and sometimes unexpected, outcomes and value.

For example, chatbots can be engineered to collect time- and context-centered information from a customer so that their needs can be answered perfectly, the first time. Intelligent automation can also be applied as a recommendation engine, sorting through enormous data sets in search of the single best answer for a specific customer need. In this way, back-office functions can become enablers of growth and innovation.

But success with digital transformation requires a holistic approach, balancing both front- and back-end investment in digital. Customer-centered, front-office solutions often receive the most attention. However, back-office processes must similarly be transformed to deliver the promise of front-end solutions. If you promise to give your customers a transformational experience and value proposition, it’s critical that your back office can deliver on that promise.

Intelligent automation can be used to achieve comprehensive business transformation across customer-facing, front-office applications—as well as customer-supporting, back-office applications. By first targeting digital enablement, organizations can identify early wins and obvious vulnerabilities in their operations, which can then be used to build on digital success. A balanced, intentional and holistic approach yields the most reliable and resilient results, while providing speed, flexibility and adaptability along the way. The result is a digital enterprise that can stay ahead of customer expectations for an increasingly digital and automated experience.

Dave Padmos is Ernst & Young global advisory technology leader and EY US-West advisory technology, media/entertainment and telecommunications leader. Ken Englund is North America technology advisory services principal, Ernst & Young US, focused on helping technology companies solve critical business issues.

Explore the latest EY insights on how technology, media/entertainment and telecommunications companies can leverage intelligent automation here.