The majority of automation projects are successful, yet some still fail miserably. So, could personality have an impact? It turns out — it can.
Recent research by Sapio, commissioned by ABBYY, reveals that strategies for implementation and post-deployment actions if things go wrong can vary immensely depending on the personality of the CIO. The survey was conducted among 1,208 IT leaders across the US, UK, France, Germany, and Japan. It looks at where businesses have invested in automation projects, why they have adopted technologies, and how behavior has impacted the success of projects.
The study also looked at answers based on whether the person overseeing DX described themselves as extroverted or introverted. Below are some common traits and differences between the two and how they impacted decision-making. I give my opinion on who does it best.
Reasons for Upgrading Your Automation Project
The decision to spend on new technology is never taken lightly, so the reason for instigating change must be solid, purposeful, and rewarding for the company. This was the first area where personality makes a difference.
When asked about the reasons behind digital transformation, introverts cited more human factors such as pressure from employees (32%), addressing staff burnout (44%), or supporting the neediest teams (47%).
Meanwhile, extroverts focused more on the type of tech and company goals, such as replacing old software (48%), achieving the most ROI (43%), and pressure from the market (47%).
A Listening Ear
The pandemic certainly pushed ahead transformation in a big way, with many organizations introducing employees to more intelligent automation.
Working from home required more cloud-based and user-friendly applications, and CIOs augmented staff with digital workers who could accomplish tedious tasks in a human-like manner. The pandemic resulted in many organizations accelerating digital technology adoption plans by three to seven years, with 45% of IT decision-makers implementing three to four automation projects over the last two years.
Listening and understanding employees’ needs, especially when there are several external factors causing fear, uncertainty, and doubt, are essential attributes to the success of automation projects. However, being pragmatic by understanding company goals and good ROI are also critical.
Winner: Introvert – Research shows that professionals with empathy perform 40% more in decision-making and coaching, and 90% of top-performing employees have emotional intelligence.
Analyzing a digital transformation project’s success depends on expectations and anticipated ROI from the outset.
Are you looking for outcomes that are 2x the investment cost, just 1x or as much as 3x? Once again, this may depend on the personality of the automation leader. For example, only 19% of introverts expected 3x the ROI, compared to 25% of extroverts.
However, it seems the introvert leaders are more realistic, with 16% actually achieving 3x the ROI.
The survey also shows differences among the opposing personalities regarding the results delivered. For example, introducing AI improved business efficiency according to 53% of extroverts, while only 29% of introverts agreed. The same went for intelligent document processing (IDP), with almost half of extroverts boasting that it had helped grow revenue compared to only 27% of introverts. Also, more than double the number of extroverts attributed process mining for an increase in customers compared to introverts (33% v 13%). Perhaps this is due to changes in processes that make life easier for the customer. For example, by undertaking a deep analysis of the onboarding process, businesses can have more seamless applications with tools like Proof of Identity, speeding up the KYC practice and enabling companies to confirm that people are who they say they are.
Winner: Extrovert – Introverts may be slightly more realistic about numbers, but what about negative feedback on results? Overall, 95% of organizations participating in the survey said automation had improved performance, which is a very positive outcome. So my vote goes to the optimistic extrovert on this one.
Recipe for Success
It’s encouraging to see respondents to the survey felt digital transformation projects turned out well. A healthy 96% of respondents reported that their project had been ‘very or somewhat successful, with ‘easy to use technology is the main reason for success (44%). This may be down to the huge increase in the amount of low-code/no-code technologies now being implemented across the enterprise – which gives employees the chance to use ‘drag and drop’ or out-of-the-box tools to perform upgrades and instigate their changes without the need to involve IT in a long-drawn-out process.
The most popular tech introduced was document-centric process automation (54%), process automation (54%) machine learning (48%), while the least implemented was RPA (39%). The low introduction of RPA is likely because many companies have already deployed RPA and are now augmenting it with AI-enabling technologies.
In terms of which departments see the most success, it is IT (69%), Accounts/Finance (44%), and Operations (32%).
What happens when things go wrong?
What about the projects that didn’t work? If you have an introvert leading your team, you’ll find out sooner rather than later if things go wrong. The survey revealed that introverts are twice as likely to spot a failure in the early days of deployment – 50% v 25%. More worryingly, however, is what they do about it. All (100%) of introverts said they would replace it with new technology, compared to only 38% of extroverts.
This suggests stereotypical extroverts have more tenacity in not giving up on investment and will fight for a solution to fix the problem.
Also, when citing reasons for failure, introverts blamed it on too hasty a deployment (50%), double the number of extroverts. Both, however, agreed equally that automation goals being too vague was a significant reason for the disaster. Again, this highlights the importance of CIOs understanding their processes and how employees interact with systems before starting an automation project to set their workforce and business up for success. I was also interested to learn that 100% of introverts blamed remote working for contributing to failure, compared to only 13% of extroverts. This surprised me, mainly because most of the changes addressed WFH challenges.
Winner: Extrovert. We’re glad to see introverts spot problems early on, showing actual attention to detail and analytical skills. However, it’s not a welcome move to want to rip the whole thing out and start again with new technology – a waste of money. This time my vote goes to the extrovert.
A People-First Approach
There are many factors influencing the success or failure of digital transformation projects, but undoubtedly the study showed the personality of automation leaders plays a key role in the outcome. But, more importantly, with the number one reason for successful deployment being an easy-to-use system, business leaders must take a people-first approach to automation to be a true overall winner.
For employees, empower IT and business users with low-code/no-code tools to make data from documents more accessible to serve customers better. In addition, it makes processes more streamlined by understanding more clearly how employees complete tasks by interacting with systems.
Indeed, McKinsey reports that investing in digital skills for people has become a clear priority, indicating that employee skills need to match a company’s technology investments. So much so that attracting and retaining customers and employees took a backseat in priorities for IT decision-makers; according to the survey, an unusual result shows that employee retention could be at the heart of decisions above all else.
An easy-to-use system applies to the customer, too. Make interacting with your company more enjoyable. Onboarding for new services, for example, should be quick and easy when they need to provide proof of identity information. Enable customers to tap and click documents and biometrically match their faces in a one-step process. Also, make the chatbots they interact with online more innovative by giving those bots intelligent automation.
Digital transformation is an ongoing cycle involving embedding a culture of innovation to empower your teams and encourage and support change across all business departments.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; AdobeStock; Thank you!