Automation & innovation – The key ingredients of digital transformation

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The global economic and technological ecosystem is evolving, at a much higher rate than it ever did before. Each industry is ripe for disruption, and digital transformation or digitization might just be the pathway to a new dawn.

When we talk about digital transformation, one automatically correlates it to automation as that is what is enabling the elimination of manual processes.

However, simply automating things is not enough. It is equally important to innovate every step of the way. Maybe take the good ol’ automation technology and implement it in a manner that enhances the overall efficiency. Or, introduce innovation into automation to develop something completely novel and groundbreaking.

Undoubtedly, automation and innovation are the two key ingredients for a successful digital transformation recipe.

Walt Carter, Chief Digital Officer & CIO at Homestar Financial Corporation, spoke on our recent podcast about accelerating digitization through automation and innovation, particularly in the financial services sector. This blog is an excerpt from his conversation on QATalks podcast.

Embracing change for better customer experiences

Change is the only constant – As clichéd as it may be, it is true nonetheless.

Talking about the current scenario, Walt points out that there has been a recent impact on how businesses are done, how they think about customers, and how they think about their employees.

When we talk about customer experiences, today we are at a much lower than the acceptable levels. Therefore, something has to change.

Walt says, “The world is moving away from stodgy, old businessman presentation and into more of a fluid dynamic digital world. So, there’s willingness to explore that future and to look at what’s really happening and changing as you move through the demographics, that more and more openness to technology, greater and greater expectations all the time that need to be met with how you engage your customers, how you retain your customers, how you support your customers through the journey, every step of the way. You’ve got to be building credibility, which means your technology has to work and deliver on the promise to the customer.

Walt recommends the industry leaders to be willing to think through and listen down.

He explains, “We’re really good at listening to the folks above us in the food chain or not as good as we need to be listening down. The people that are closest to the customer have great insights and times they have great insights about what potential solutions might be deployed or used, or at least the framing of a solution. I think our executives have got to be willing to humble themselves maybe as a right word. If not, I think at least be open to the conversations with the folks that are closest to the customers, gathering that critical information and being able to then turn around and deploy that information back out through the rest of the executive team to operationalize improvements in customer experience, improvements in employee experience and then improvements overall in delivery of the operational throughput.”

Best practices for implementing digital transformation

Although automation is a key component of the digitization journey, it has evolved into many advanced forms such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), cognitive automation, and hyper automation.

Walt takes a dig at these technologies and lays out the best practices for implementing digital transformation, especially in the financial services sector as:

  • End-to-end automation of the business processes
  • Use of AI, conversational bots to capture the end user experiences
  • Migration to the cloud and protection of data

Winning at digital transformation

While answering the question about the best practices for accelerating automation initiatives and the key metrics to measure the efforts, Walt referred to the book – “The four disciplines of execution” by Covey.

He says, “All of that, thinking about value first, how we’re going to measure what the leading indicators are, what are we going to do if they’re telling us things are bad, those are important things for leadership to contemplate and really isolate down to because that provides the focus. If you don’t have the focus you wind up with scope leap, scope creep, and you wind up with really very little to show for it. That’s why they say 70% of digital transformations are logged as failures. It’s because people haven’t focused down properly, I think. If you lead with, how am I going to know when I’m done? You win a lot of times.”

Impact of prioritizing what to automate

Walt touches upon the need to prioritize the areas that need to be automated as –

“On the technology or the process side, what we are seeing is the automation happens in the operation side of it with respect to the financial institution, so where we can efficiently improve the processes, wherever we see the highly manual and repetitive process and where there is a huge volume of transaction that’s happening and it is frequent and it runs every day, every week and on a monthly basis – that’s an area where we are looking to automate.

He also specified how automation differs in financial institutions as there are a lot of rules, templates and a lot of decision making based on the standards and predictive rules is involved.

“We need to look at the processes in the holistic view, in the sense like when we need to look at what’s the inventory of those processes and how long it has been there, how stable it is.”

The biggest challenge is not the technology

It is change management and Walt emphasizes on it too –

“The biggest challenge is getting the user community and the teams in the business to embrace the change. I’ve spent a lot more time trying to figure out how do I unlock the potential for the psychological part what I call is overcoming the organization’s psychological inertia to change. So, none of this stuff is super hard in some ways, and none of it is super easy either on the people side, but, you just got to think through, and, I call it over communicate, you just got to over-communicate – here’s what we’re doing, here’s why we’re doing it, here’s when we hope to be done. Can you guys help us get done by them?”

A partnership for success

At Cigniti, we are aiming towards moving our organization towards the digital. So as much as we shift ourselves from testing to a quality engineering, we are shifting towards the digital assurance side as well, and to see how we can help clients when they migrate from cloud digital is a broader spectrum of all the technologies. It includes cloud, it includes AI, it includes Blockchain, it includes RPA, you name it, all those next gen technologies. You call them as digital because that’s where you’re automating many of the processes in a digital way. We are evolving towards that journey, and most of our resources are trying to get into the digital certifications such as Azure is one of it says, Scaled Agile Framework, AI certification, RPA certification, many of those certification and tools and technologies that we are adopting today to meet the world in the digital scenario.

Schedule a discussion with us to consult our experienced team of digital assurance & testing experts for experiencing a smooth digital transformation.


  • Cigniti Technologies

    Cigniti is the world’s leading AI & IP-led Digital Assurance and Digital Engineering services company with offices in India, the USA, Canada, the UK, the UAE, Australia, South Africa, the Czech Republic, and Singapore. We help companies accelerate their digital transformation journey across various stages of digital adoption and help them achieve market leadership.

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