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How to leverage automation for your private equity-backed business

Getting started creating business value with automation

VIDEO  | 

This post is part of a three-part video series, The automation opportunity in private equity, developed in partnership with Privcap. The videos offer insights on the incredible advances offered by automation—variously identified as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA).

“It really comes down to a question of education – making CEOs understand that it can be done and it can be done in a way that's not overly intrusive to the company... And the return is incredibly straightforward and measurable."                                                                                                                                    -Dave Noonan, Principal, RSM

Many CEOs need guidance in deciding where to begin.

Most company leaders aware of RPA know they should look into it, but many are intimidated by the vast number of business processes that could feasibly be automated. This, paired with the view that automation is more related to cost-reduction than to revenue growth, causes many CEOs to delay getting the bot ball rolling, so to speak.

As private equity specialists Dave Noonan of RSM, Cory Eaves of General Atlantic and Tamas Hevizi of Automation Anywhere discuss, portfolio companies can overcome their hesitancy to automate tasks that were once manual, cutting expenses and improving accuracy in the process. These CEOs should know that many automation projects produce a return on investment more quickly and more powerfully than they may expect. Hevisi calls automation "the gateway drug to digital transformation."

RPA projects are "tangible, short-term projects," continues Hevisi. "They take the analog out of the processes, because a lot of the manual entry goes away."

Noonan backs up Hevisi's endorsement: "It is clear and obvious that there are tangible benefits—measurable and sustainable benefits—to implementing this type of a solution. It really comes down to a question of education—making CEOs understand that it can be done and it can be done in a way that's not overly intrusive to the company. And it can be done in a period of time that isn't going to be overly taxing either from a resource or a cost perspective. And the return is incredibly straightforward and measurable."

A portfolio company’s potential return on investment is the bottom line in any decision.

"If we can't draw a straight line between a dollar spent on a piece of software or consulting engagement to five to seven dollars in return, then you should probably keep the dollar," adds Noonan. "This is a place where it's evident that the return is there for the taking."


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