by Steven Mauss

Years ago, when kids still delivered papers on foot via paper routes, I was thrilled to earn the extra money generated by having a job. Back then, things were not so automated; it was all done by hand. Every day, I would roll my allotted newspapers and place rubber bands around them. After loading them all into a double-sided paper carrier harness, I would trundle off on foot, throwing papers to all subscribers.

I recall one afternoon being particularly busy and I had gotten behind by the time I was supposed to be delivering papers. My mom offered to drive me around in the family station wagon to throw the papers and I gladly accepted the offer. I rolled all the papers as usual and loaded them into the back of the car. As we approached the homes of subscribers, I would jump out off the back tailgate with a paper in hand and run closer to the home. After throwing the paper, I would come back to the car, get another paper, and repeat the process. Of course, this was exhausting and tedious, and my mother could see that I was getting worn out. It was also taking a long time. Concerned, mom put the car in “Park” and called me over to the driver’s window.

“Steven, Think Ahead!”

My mother then proceeded to explain to my 13-yr. old brain that I could speed things up by figuring out how many papers I needed for an entire street and loading up my arms with that number of papers all at once. Doing so would speed things up and require fewer trips back to the car. I would be a lot less tired, she explained, and we would BOTH get home a lot faster. From that moment forward, I was set on a life-long path of trying to make things more efficient (BPO, or Business Process Optimization, sometimes also referred to as BPM, or Business Process Management) and automation. I realized I could get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time and have more time for the things I really wanted to do. Who wouldn’t want that?

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Fast forwarding about 40 years, it’s a thrill to be a part of what could now be considered the close cousin of BPO, BPA (Business Process Automation), especially as it pertains to digital processes. This is the next obvious step in the evolution of BPM, of course, and the key to effective BPA is wrapping one’s head around an entire process. Then, you can analyze “touch points” to determine potential areas where repetitive tasks (both human AND machine) can be optimized and automated.

The work we do at Knowledge Relay involves interacting with multiple digital systems and processes that interact with each other in repetitive ways. From data migration (where data is gathered, cleaned, and posted on a regular basis) to feed metrics, it all must be repetitively updated. It’s no longer enough to simply operate a “piece” of the process. You must wrap your head around the entire process and create ways for “everyone’s everything” to repeatedly interact. We’re creating processing tools to do just that by recognizing relationships between elements, considering timing requirements and constraints, and creating an automated iterative parallelized processing engine. This is truly the next generation of digital process automation and it’s almost here.

It won’t be long before you can finally spend your time on things that interest you, instead of being tied to tedious manual processes. Do you have any digital processes you’d like to have automated? I’d love to hear about it.