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Brexit Iceberg Rips Hole in SS Europe, Leaving Companies to Drown in Paper

Omid Aslani, Director of Commercial Product Management at Kofax talks about the role of technologies such as RPA to combat the Brexit hit on the European economy

The establishment of the European Union aligned beautifully with the dawn of the digital age. The rules and regulations of the European trading system evolved in tandem with computers, software and other digital tools, resulting in a highly automated and efficient EU system that was the envy of the world.

And then the legislative iceberg known as Brexit hit, tearing a gaping hole into the hull of the smooth-sailing vessel that was the European economy. Companies were left stranded, drowning in bureaucracy without a life jacket while trying to conduct business between the continent and the UK.

With no sign of help from the government on the horizon, businesses need to look around and create their own survival kit. Savvy companies have taken note of the innovation possible with a true unified intelligent automation platform. Organisations have been adopting intelligent automation to digitally transform workflows for quite some time now, be it process orchestration (BPM), Capture (OCR), task automation (RPA), or reporting and activity monitoring. Spending on automation has almost doubled during the past two years, increasing from 6.7 percent to 11.2 percent of the IT budget. By the end of this year, that number is estimated to reach 15.7 percent, according to the Kofax 2020 Intelligent Automation Benchmark Study.*

A modern, low-code/no-code unified intelligent automation platform has helped businesses rapidly digitise information and harness that data to automate and orchestrate complex, end-to-end processes.
When applied to novel Brexit use cases, it becomes a lifeboat that can help companies stay afloat and restore pre-Brexit momentum.

Intelligent automation: A lifeboat in a post-Brexit world

European companies are drowning in a sea of complex Brexit processes and paperwork. Calm waters have become rough with a storm of new standards and forms. Businesses must abide by new regulations and complete required import and export documentation on thousands of products flowing between Europe and the UK.

Making matters worse, there’s no lighthouse to guide companies through the tsunami of bureaucratic requirements. Instead, inefficient, siloed systems and inadequately staffed customs agencies have left most businesses gasping for air. The delays, inefficiencies and skyrocketing costs continue to mount by the day on board this sinking ship:

  • Exponential increase in hours needed to process the required paperwork for shipments  
  • Import and export delays negatively affecting supply chains 
  • Significantly increased shipping and handling costs
  • Cessation by some organisations of cross-border trade
  • Delays accessing customs agents
  • Incorrect shipments held at the border
  • Burdensome regulations and paperwork required to validate the content of “Mixed Containers” 
  • Fines/overpayments for incorrect data
  • Loss of delayed perishable goods 
  • Contractual/T1 penalties for delays 

There are several reasons why European companies are leaning heavily on intelligent automaton to overcome myriad manual processes and inefficiencies caused by Brexit, according to the benchmark study.
In Germany, 66 percent of enterprises say strengthening security and compliance is a driving force; 54 percent of businesses in the UK agree. Achieving operational excellence is a primary factor behind automation for 56 percent of companies in Germany, 46 percent in the UK, and 44 percent of those in France. Meanwhile, 30 percent of UK organizations and 24 percent of Swedish companies cite reducing operational expenses as a key reason.

Intelligent automation is breathing new life into organisations, helping them automate and orchestrate the business-critical workflows required to move goods between the UK and Europe in the post-Brexit era. With an integrated platform, companies can:

  • Digitise documents associated with import and export transactions and use digital workers (software robots) to automate tasks for Brexit compliance
  • Ensure customers provide the right information and documentation to logistics companies so they can ship their goods
  • Automatically check to ensure shipping documentation is complete and compliant
  • Verify documents before pallets are loaded into shipping containers to minimise disruptions and delays
  • Reconcile the exploding volume of shipping documentation required in import/export transactions
  • Reconcile received shipments with orders, collating data for submission to the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs tax authority 

Results are more than just a mirage, with European companies seeing a real return on their investment in automation technology. The top benefits reported are efficiency savings, cost savings, and improved operations.

Top picks for essential lifeboat equipment

When shopping for an intelligent automation lifeboat, make sure to pick one that has holistic unified automation solutions – not siloed in specific types of automation. We know that not all business-critical workflows are straight forward, so be sure to partner with a leading company that can help you navigate these rough waters with ease. One that not only meets your immediate Brexit emergency needs but also can help you navigate the waters as requirements change. Main features to look for in a unified platform include:

  • Cognitive capture, so you can automatically read and ingest data from complex documents such as CMR Waybills and C88s.
  • Artificial intelligence technology that can quickly identify and classify different information based on training sets and employ bots to “read” incoming documents and match them to the right shipment, purchase order, or ERP record.
  • Connected systems, so you can unite disparate systems and orchestrate simple and complex workflows.
  • Process orchestration, making it simple to monitor the time, resources and costs associated with each step-in a given workflow and easy-to-modify processes as requirements change.
  • Task automation, enabling companies to employ software robots for manual Brexit tasks, such as looking up commodity codes and entering data.

Navigate Brexit rules and regulations and the tidal wave of paperwork with ease by grabbing onto an intelligent automation platform that can automate manual, information-intensive workflows at scale. Steer your organisation to safety, so you can work (and sail) like tomorrow—today.

* The Kofax 2020 Intelligent Automation Benchmark Study is based on a 2020 survey of 450 automation and AI decision makers, and 450 individual contributors in North America, Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Sweden and the UK. It provides insights into the current state of enterprise automation.

For more such updates and perspectives around Digital Innovation, IoT, Data Infrastructure, AI & Cybsercurity, go to

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