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Sateesh Seetharamiah, CEO of Edge Products, EdgeVerve Systems Limited – Interview Series

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Sateesh Seetharamiah is the CEO of Edge products, EdgeVerve Systems Limited (An Infosys Company), and a board member and Whole-time Director at EdgeVerve. A leader with entrepreneurial, management consulting, operational and IT leadership experience spanning over 25 years. He is a strong believer in the immense potential AI and Automation have in transforming enterprises of the future. Sateesh is one of the founding members of EdgeVerve and comes with rich experience in the product and platforms domain. Being a passionate technologist, Sateesh has been instrumental in establishing many foundational technology capabilities that drive todays EdgeVerve strategy.

Could you share the genesis story behind EdgeVerve?

We began in 2014 with a mission to create a world where our technology augments human intelligence and creates possibilities for enterprises to thrive within. Our digital platforms across Document AI (XtractEdge), Automation (AssistEdge), and Supply Chain (TradeEdge) help businesses transform into data-driven enterprises, accelerating growth in the digital world. These also enable enterprises to digitize processes, optimize human effort, connect supply chain partners, and unearth insights from documents.

Global corporations leverage our platforms across financial services, insurance, retail, consumer & packaged goods, life sciences, manufacturing, telecom, and utilities.

You should check our website (www.edgeverve.com) to understand how enterprises worldwide are unlocking hidden business value with the help of our best-in-class digital platforms.

EdgeVerve is a leader in Robotic Process Automation (RPA). For readers unfamiliar with this terminology, could you describe what it is?

Allow me to enumerate the different aspects of this powerful tool:

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) helps automate repetitive, rule-based business processes guided by business logic and structured inputs. RPA has already become the most sought-after technology adopted by enterprises worldwide despite this relatively new technology. RPA assists businesses by processing workflows much faster and more efficiently. This frees human workforces from mundane tasks to focus more on strategic work. Consequently, business operations, data security, and productivity are all improved. Intelligent RPA takes automation to a whole new level. It offers the ability to learn from human intervention and helps to handle processes intelligently. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are propelling RPA to mimic human decisions, but we are just getting started.

For instance, our client, Royal Philips, is a global healthcare technology leader to exemplify this in action. They leverage advanced technologies deep clinical & consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Their challenge was to automate 800+ tasks executing mission-critical Finance and Accounting processes, 230 human checkpoints, and multiple ERPs. Using our AssistEdge RPA solution, they could automate 1 million work hours in finance operations, enable end-to-end automation across the finance operations domain and centralize BPM operations. The result? 225+ use cases and 100+ processes were automated in 65 countries, resulting in 16M+ savings.

You’ve described the holy grail of automation as being where humans and a digital workforce co-exist. Could you share more details about this vision?

Firstly, I’ll explore this by saying that at EdgeVerve, we envision a world where two forces – the human and digital workforce- converge to co-create a future worker. This enables a synergy of people, processes, and technology. As automation gains momentum, businesses need to find and embark on the Automation Singularity journey. This is the end state of the future workforce.

Now, Automation Singularity serves as a beacon for enterprises to conceive, design, structure, and deliver products plus services. Change in this world of Automation Singularity will be pervasive, exceeding the boundaries of enterprises and touching value chains. Moreover, it will create public discourse on various issues, including employment, human reskilling, data privacy, etc. This change will impact grassroots, encompassing people, technology, risk, and governance.

The evolution of enterprises towards Automation Singularity will fuel rule-based automation with efficiency at a task level towards a state of human-empowered automation. This is where decisions on (task) allocations and process design are crafted based on data and optimization algorithms. Future workers will lead in thinking, recrafting, and delivering on possibilities.

That said, organizations must realize that their automation strategy should contextualize their journey. Even with identical verticals, no two enterprises are the same. A cookie-cutter approach to an inherently intuitive and flexible discipline could hinder rather than a benefit. Any movement towards Automation Singularity should be preceded by a thorough and objective business status and aims audit. Upon understanding that competitive advantage can be driven by differentiated products and services (supported by excellent service and execution), it can make specific changes.

Hence, Automation Singularity will soon become a norm in enterprise and beyond.

You were instrumental in championing the concept of process discovery; what is this specifically?

In today’s world, enterprises are constantly focusing on being agile, hyper-productive, and resilient. They need to fulfill significant cost pressures, intense competition, and evolving customer needs. While automation-led transformations have been successful, I strongly felt enterprises could enhance automation benefits by unlocking hidden business value trapped in processes.

This then conceptualized “Process Discovery” as a new discipline that helps digitize processes, potentiate human-machine interaction, and innovate human efficiency enablement. Process discovery captures exact keystroke data in a privacy-compliant environment, providing transaction insights. Sophisticated algorithms analyze this data to identify process insights, automation potential, continuous monitoring for compliance, and process training opportunities. This data can be integrated with other tools, including process mining and workforce management, to develop broader process visibility and business transformation.

A Process Discovery platform should be equipped with:

  • Smart sensors for data capture
  • Native AI Engine that converts empirical data into process insights
  • Interactive Process Maps for granular visibility into processes
  • Process Metrics to continuously monitor and optimize processes
  • Automation Blueprint offers a view on process readiness
  • Secure, privacy compliant, and GDPR ready to meet enterprise security guidelines

How does process discovery enable enterprises to optimize their ROI?

 Process Discovery gives organizations powerful insights by drilling data down to an unprecedented level of granularity. This analyses every process into its constituent data. This information can powerfully drive digital transformation with machine learning and data mining.

A deeper understanding of processes sets the stage for cognitive capabilities. These can redesign operating models from scratch, rewire processes and inject agility into the enterprise bid. This helps to fulfill the evolving market and customer demands. The most prominent enterprise growth avenues are acceleration and amplification. Both of these need efficiency and process discovery. Process Discovery delivers the combination of clarity, coherence, and capability, helping enterprises drive automated-oriented results sustainably.

For instance, our client, a leading US financial service company, wished to identify opportunities for automation process standardization. They also wanted to maximize the ROI potential of automation by selecting apt processes to automate. With our AssistEdge Process Discovery platform, they were able to save 65K annual man-hour savings, along with a 90% reduction in documentation effort. With process optimization, they achieved annual savings of $1Mn.

You’ve witnessed a direct correlation between automation success and a deep understanding of the process that is being automated; how can enterprises amplify this understanding of the process to ensure success?

I believe that a successful automation journey begins with business process discovery. An intelligent automation-powered process discovery solution can unlock hidden process insights to accelerate enterprise-wide automation. This solution identifies the most suitable candidates for automation while accumulating valuable process intelligence. It collects process and task level data from user devices, analyze the collected data, provides insights using visually rich process maps, and creates a blueprint for automating the right processes. This way, you automate only what matters.

You previously published an article on Connected Automation and how it’s a human-centered holistic approach. Why is it so crucial for enterprises to understand the concept of connected automation?

Over the last few years, automation has become a prime enabler of digital transformation. Although process transformation has promoted businesses, enterprises still haven’t harnessed their full potential. Automation efforts have primarily remained in silos, impacting scalability across the enterprise, resulting in a disconnect.

Connected Automation assists enterprises and forges deeper connections between Processes, Data, and People like so:

  • People – Wider connections into automation journey via low code platforms for citizen developers and enterprise personal automation assistants.
  • Process – Stronger connection of processes into the automation journey via end-to-end process orchestration using workflows and auto-automation.
  • Data – Deeper data connection into automation journeys via contextual discovery, intelligent document processing, and advanced insights.

This fundamental change in RPA planning will enable enterprises to drive continuous improvement, intelligence, and efficiency for resilience and improved performance.

Our experience working with 400+ large enterprises demonstrated that automation is most successful when adopted as an enterprise-wide transformation program. Scaling automation needs convenience and ergonomic control. By decentralizing technology control and making it accessible to non-technical people, enterprises can convert each employee to a transformation evangelist. This accentuates the scale of Intelligent Automation and the effectiveness of change management.

Enterprises can co-create their transformation story with a non-technical workforce, offering faster scale and quicker results.

In the same article, you also discussed how enterprises can co-create their transformation story with a non-technical workforce. Why should enterprises consider low-code or no-code solutions?

As enterprises seek greater agility and are responsive to evolving markets and technology, they should. They aim to make each employee a partner in this journey. Upon employees welcoming automation as a regular tool, they consider reaping benefits using existing strategies. Automation is an enterprise and individual goal, promoting employees with more fulfilling and valuable roles.

Democratizing automation helps align enterprises towards the objective of “Automation as a way to work,” which allows each employee to think and find ways to reduce effort and improve the quality of their daily activities via automation. When there is a Bot for each employee, they consider automation to progress level-wise by focusing on activities requiring human qualities and adding that value.

Enterprise automation can be more prone to failures in some instances. In such scenarios, employee-driven automation can help make automation more robust.

Is there anything else you would like to share about EdgeVerve?

EdgeVerve is a global leader in AI, Automation, and Supply Chain. Our digital platforms empower enterprises globally to bring life to their digital transformation initiatives.

We are not just building path-breaking products; we are building technology that will unlock hidden business value from your business processes, documents, and supply chain.

We take pride in delivering value through these digital platforms to over 400+ large-scale enterprises across multiple industries. With an incredibly talented set of employees, we are excited about the unlimited possibilities in helping companies transform into data-driven enterprises of the future.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit EdgeVerve.

Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital assets, digital securities and investing. He is a founding partner of unite.AI & a member of the Forbes Technology Council.