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From Proof of Concept to Proof of Value.

by Chris Thilburg | 3 mins read

Ahead of this week’s Intelligent Automation Exchange, Chris Thilburg, Cognition’s North America CEO, talks about how businesses can get a return on their tech investment.

Despite decades of investment in technologies such as Intelligent Automation (AI), data and artificial intelligence, many companies still struggle to ensure ROI from their tech investments.

 The big challenge? How to take projects from Proof of Concept (PoC) to Proof of Value (PoV). In a paper from last year entitled ‘Tech CEOs Must Replace Proofs of Concept With Proofs of Value for Improved Sales Effectiveness’, Gartner wrote that “many proofs of concept (POCs) are bound for disaster before they begin as sellers either fail to captivate or engage buying teams and key decision makers.”

Indeed, according to the 2020 Gartner Tech CEO Customer Acquisition Survey, 49% of tech CEOs (in organizations with up to $250 million in revenue) identified decision-maker involvement as the biggest obstacle when leveraging a PoC, while other factors included slow conversion rates/longer sales cycle (46%), high customer acquisition cost (43%) and poor conversion rates (31%).

 According to Gartner, “tech CEOs must adopt a new, value-oriented perspective and process…to transition from seeking to prove concepts to illustrating value.” When effectively executed, it concluded, “PoVs will move buying teams from viewing your product or service as a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘can’t live without’ in support of realizing critical business outcomes.”

 Increased focus on value.

Inevitably with budgets tightening and business decisions becoming even more focused on metrics, there is increasing pressure on the executives who are buying the technology to clearly define and secure ROI. 

However, for many companies it’s not always easy to judge what success looks like. Recently produced, Intelligent Automation Exchange USA’s Proof of Value Pulse Report outlines several challenges based on the responses of over 50 business leaders.

According to its survey, visualizing the end-to-end impact of investments was identified as the greatest challenge by almost half of the respondents. Another significant challenge mentioned by over a fifth of the respondents was understanding how to quantify the qualitative benefits of Intelligent Automation investments, as well as knowing which metrics to track.

So how do businesses help to drive a return from their tech investments? Here are a few pointers which may help to ensure success.

  1. Ensure IT systems are ready for change. The greatest challenge, according to 33% of respondents taking part in Intelligent Automation Exchange’s Proof of Value Pulse Report, is IT readiness - specifically the compatibility of legacy systems. This highlights the need for organizations to consider the technical aspects of deploying automation solutions, especially when working with existing systems and processes.
  2. Have a clear idea of what you want!  Be sure of what you are trying to achieve with the automation project. Who is the person or group of people who would benefit most from its implementation? What are their pain points? What are their needs? Develop a business case outlining the costs and benefits of the project and how it will help the company achieve its strategic goals.
  3. Get buy-in from stakeholders.  Everyone needs to be aligned on the value of the tech project before it can move forward. This includes the CEO, other executives, and the product team. Only by doing this can you ensure that the project is aligned with the company's strategic goals. As Gartner identifies, decision maker involvement is the biggest obstacle when leveraging a PoC, according to nearly half of tech CEOs.
  1. Choose the right metrics. By tracking metrics aligned with their specific business objectives, organizations can demonstrate the tangible benefits of their investment. For example, they can track improvements in areas such as financial return, employee engagement, time efficiency gains, accuracy and cost savings. According to Intelligent Automation Exchange’s report, 41% of respondents emphasized the significance of tracking cost savings as a key metric for demonstrating the value of IA investment.
  1. Gather feedback from staff. While it’s important to use metrics to measure tangible benefits such as financial gains, equally important is the ability to measure the intangible/qualitative benefits of automation. Some of these benefits include improvements in customer satisfaction, employee well-being and operational agility. Feedback surveys can provide insights into how automation has impacted your customers and employees while another approach is to track employee retention. According to the Intelligent Automation Report, 44% of respondents reported using employee feedback to measure the qualitative benefits of IA .
  1. Consider a multiple-vendor solution. For many companies choosing just one vendor for automation may not offer the necessary flexibility or range of options necessary to ensure PoV. Cognition is one of the founding members of the Intelligent Automation Collective (IAC) – a collaboration between seven best-in-class tech companies to help build the ultimate end-to-end intelligent automation solution. The IAC is designed to remove the pain of complex, overlapping IT landscapes and provide a fast track to true innovation and rapid business improvement .

Chris Thilburg, CEO Cognition North America, will be speaking at Intelligent Automation Exchange, taking place in Miami, Florida, June 27th and June 28th 2023.