Digital process automation (DPA) — Overview and trends for IT

Digital process automation (DPA) tools are used to automate and optimize end-to-end business workflows for IT operations, infrastructure, data warehousing and more. By automating business and IT processes, organizations can streamline daily operations to improve outcomes and customer satisfaction.

Written by Cassie Doheny. Last Updated:
Digital process automation streamlines data for business orchestration

Gartner predicts that 25% of enterprise CIOs will be held accountable for business results this year. In contrast to years past, when IT was much more internally focused and siloed from other major functions, technological innovation is now an inescapable priority. 

Given this urgent need to drive results, reliable and modern IT infrastructure is becoming even more important. Automation offers a clear path to positive, measurable outcomes for IT leaders. 

Read on to understand the role of digital process automation and how to successfully apply it to keep up with the demands of the market and the needs of your business.

What is digital process automation?

Digital process automation (DPA) refers to the digitization and automation of recurring business processes. While this sounds similar to other automation methods, like business process automation (BPA) or robotic process automation (RPA), DPA has several key differences.

Primarily, DPA focuses on automating systems and processes and then optimizing the end-to-end flow of information between business applications, systems, employees and customers. DPA supports the customer experience by ensuring employees and customers can access real-time data. 

Digital process automation vs. business process management 

Market demands constantly shift, which means so do business requirements. To remain competitive, organizations must implement a wide range of technologies and applications in digital transformation initiatives. Ironically, this often creates complexity, preventing organizations from achieving the efficiency and speed they’re after.

In the ‘90s, organizations relied on business process management (BPM) tools to standardize business functions and reduce operational costs. Traditional BPM practices focus on cost reduction.

DPA takes a customer-centric approach to digital transformation by streamlining operations to provide a better customer experience.

Digital process automation vs. business process automation

By the early 2000s, BPM tools were no longer enough, and organizations began implementing BPA solutions to streamline operations. BPA automates repetitive tasks that otherwise require human intervention, such as employee onboarding, file transfers, back-office processes and more. It can handle some integration of systems. DPA, while similar, varies in that it optimizes communication between many tools and systems, as well as employees and customers. Additionally, DPA automates data management to make information available in real time for business users and customers alike. It’s not just for automating day-to-day business tasks but for achieving end-to-end orchestration across an organization.

What are some digital process automation examples?

DPA is rapidly transforming how businesses operate. With the ability to automate complex workflows, professionals in a variety of industries find that all kinds of processes are more effective. Below are four use cases for DPA.

  • Automating the customer onboarding process ensures a smooth and efficient start to a new business relationship. DPA tools can automate tasks such as account creation, identity verification and initial documentation. Not only are the processes completed faster, but this efficiency sets the stage for greater lifetime value than would be possible with a manual onboarding burden. 
  • Process automation tools can make data readily available for employees so they can quickly and accurately provide solutions and services to customers. For example, many organizations configure user portals for customer service initiatives. DPA tools help ensure those systems are constantly updated with accurate information that customers can easily access.
  • Streamlining approvals through DPA can significantly expedite decision-making and workflow progression. Automated approvals reduce the time spent on manual checks and signoffs, which are often prone to delays. Rule-based triggers for processes like credit checks, document verifications and contract signings ensure these important steps don’t hold up workflows.
  • By optimizing data and business intelligence (BI) processes from end to end, DPA improves analytics and reporting to provide valuable insights. Organizations can use this data to quickly innovate and improve operations, so they have an easier time adapting to changing market trends and customer demands.

Benefits of digital process automation

Compared to earlier approaches to automation, DPA offers more than a pathway to survival. It’s a true strategy for achieving a business advantage. Here are just some of the potential benefits you could see from effectively achieving fully automated processes.

Enhanced efficiency and productivity

One of the most obvious benefits of DPA is a substantial increase in operational efficiency. By automating routine and repetitive tasks, DPA frees up people across your organization to work on more value-added activities. They speed up, make fewer errors and are more likely to generate consistent output.

Cost reduction

This is a major area where changes in IT can show up as concrete business results. Reducing manual labor has a clear impact on labor costs. Automation can also minimize or eliminate data entry mistakes that affect inventory management or billing. Over time, even small efficiencies can translate into significant savings.

Consistent compliance and risk management

DPA systems are designed to adhere to established business rules and regulations. If you operate under strict legal and operational standards, automation can enforce the application of those rules and reduce the risk of non-compliance. Since regulations change, the ability to update workflows without extensive manual oversight is also helpful.

Intelligent digital process automation

DPA platforms don’t always offer intelligent automation capabilities. For example, many DPA tools do not provide machine learning for data analytics, which can be useful in optimizing workloads. However, DPA can integrate artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into end-to-end processes.

Additionally, DPA software cannot always integrate with legacy systems that don’t support APIs. In this case, a workload automation solution can seamlessly integrate DPA solutions with aging infrastructure.

Features of an effective digital process automation platform

One of the biggest challenges in implementing DPA today is the wide range of software tools on the market. To help, we’ll cover key capabilities you should look for when choosing digital process automation software.

Low-code development

The most prominent capability of powerful DPA software is the low-code assembly of complex processes. For example, some DPA platforms offer drag-and-drop workflow designers and templates that enable users to quickly assemble workflows using pre-built connectors. A low-code platform makes it easy to manage data, dependencies and business rules across endless applications and systems, drastically reducing time and resources you would otherwise spend writing custom scripts.

D&H Distributing discovered the power of low-code automation using ActiveBatch’s pre-built job steps. Read the case study to find out how its IT automations took this electronics distributor from proactive to reactive, allowing them to execute 292,000 jobs per year across seven branches.

Real-time alerting 

To help manage operations and streamline troubleshooting, DPA tools should proactively monitor workflow progress and send alerts to the appropriate teams. Alerting functionality should also support auto-remediation for any workflow that overruns, underruns, displays exit codes or is in danger of breaching an SLA.

End-to-end integration

DPA software should enable IT to automate, monitor and manage workflows, pulling together IT infrastructure, data warehouses and business platforms. Whether through pre-built connectors, native integrations or APIs, DPA software that can use integration capabilities to build end-to-end workflows provides businesses with endless opportunities to orchestrate and optimize its processes, operations and customer experiences.

User-friendly interface

An intuitive user experience is key for both technical and business users to derive maximum value from a DPA platform. As technology evolves and breaks down silos, democratizing efficiency tools like automation can be a powerful way to generate results across many departments. That’s easiest when you select software that’s built for ease of use.

Accessible performance metrics

For IT leaders to support the business value that any software tool drives, they need to be able to demonstrate its value in the form of tangible metrics. Automation platforms that show the status of automations in real time help to uphold IT key performance indicators (KPIs) and are essential to a digital transformation propelled by DPA.

How to successfully implement DPA

Feeling ready to make big moves towards efficiency and productivity with DPA? Use these tips to get started.

  • Choose the right software provider. On top of finding a DPA tool with all the features you need, selecting a provider with experience, top-notch support and an excellent customer reputation is vital.
  • Prioritize data protection. As with any other digital technology shift, getting started with DPA or moving from another automation approach can present new vulnerabilities. Choose a solution that complies with relevant data protection regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA or CCPA. 
  • Plan for scalability. Your automation needs will evolve — and so will trends in IT and your industry at large. Consider how a DPA platform will work today, but don’t forget to evaluate its ability to grow alongside your business.
  • Monitor and optimize. After deploying a DPA solution, you’ll need to collect data to analyze the effectiveness of newly automated processes and their impact on business outcomes. Gather regular feedback from all types of users to gain insights into the best ways to refine your usage and more efficiently apply automations.

As the easiest-to-use workload automation platform in the marketplace, ActiveBatch extends the power of your IT team by effortlessly running your critical business processes. 

Preview your automated future — book a demo today.

Digital process automation FAQs

What is the meaning of digital process automation?

DPA refers to the use of technology to automate complex business processes. It involves various tools that can manage, automate and optimize those processes to make them more effective and efficient. DPA eliminates manual interventions and reduces bottlenecks to make communication seamless across various business functions.

What is DPA technology?

DPA technology is an advanced form of workflow automation aimed at streamlining business processes and improving organization efficiency. It helps organizations accomplish end-to-end automation of complex processes using a combination of various technologies. These might include AI and machine learning. DPA technology is a reliable tool for improving the accuracy and speed of everyday business operations.

What is the difference between DPA and RPA?

The main difference between DPA and RPA is in scope and complexity. RPA automates routine, rule-based tasks such as data entry or file manipulation, while DPA takes a more holistic approach to automation. With DPA, you can transform entire business processes and workflows that integrate multiple systems and handle complex decision-making.

What are the benefits of digital process automation?

DPA increases operational efficiency, reduces errors and lowers operational costs. By automating complex processes, organizations ensure consistency and reliability and free people up to focus on more strategic work. Because of the potential for faster response times and higher-quality service, DPA also tends to have a positive effect on customer satisfaction.

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