5 min read

3 real-world examples of the impact and scale of low-code automation

You already know that low-code automation can free up people to work on high-level tasks. What’s often overlooked is the impact of automation on a larger scale—the potential of each automated process to contribute to rapidly solving big organizational challenges, often on a global level.

Let’s look at three organizations that recently solved large logistical challenges by providing individuals and teams with Microsoft Power Automate.

1. Coca-Cola United streamlines order management with RPA in Power Automate

Coca-Cola Bottling Company United (Coca-Cola United) supplies Coca-Cola products directly to 200,000 retailers and restaurants. When Coca-Cola introduced its new Freestyle vending machine, which depends on cartridges that are delivered to the customer, Coca-Cola United needed to streamline its order and invoicing procedures to scale to demand. “Coca-Cola innovation collided with our supply chain system,” says Bob Means, Director of Business Solutions at Coca-Cola Bottling Company United. “Replenishing the high-tech, small flavor cartridges was best done by outsourcing production, but it created a back-office nightmare.”

Processing a cartridge replacement required a dedicated customer relationship management (CRM) agent to manually push it through a complex 11-step process involving multiple disparate systems, such as SAP and more. A single agent could service only 50 Freestyle orders; however, nearly 50,000 orders were in the queue.

Power Automate provided an ideal solution, automating repetitive processes across Windows and web applications. Now, when a CRM agent enters an order into the CRM system, a desktop flow (RPA) signs into the SAP system, accesses orders now tracked in a Microsoft Azure SQL database rather than an Excel spreadsheet, and creates a purchase order. The flow then submits the order to the supplier’s web applications and monitors the email system for invoice and delivery emails, and extracts information from the attachments to close the process in the Accounts Payable system—all using desktop flows (RPA) running in unattended mode, a key capability of Power Automate.

The takeaway

By leveraging RPA unattended mode in Power Automate, Coca-Cola United can now schedule and trigger events that increase automation of a range of high-volume tasks. Its cloud-based automation solution agent, built on Azure and Microsoft Power Platform, can automatically scale to any job and interoperate with any application. As a result, the simplified process frees the dedicated CRM agent, allowing orders from all channels—inbound and outbound call center agents, field service sales representatives, and a customer self-service portal.

Take a closer look at how Coca-Cola United dispenses streamlined order management with RPA in Power Automate.

2. City of Kobe, Japan demonstrates real-world speed

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, an estimated 99 percent of Kobe’s 1.5 million citizens applied for a special subsidy for those whose livelihoods were affected by the virus. The City of Kobe was overwhelmed by 40,000 daily calls from anxious citizens desperately seeking status updates on their applications for relief funds, and officials needed a fast way to help them update COVID-19 data on the city’s website.

In just one month, one of the city’s IT managers and two Microsoft MVPs developed a set of four apps with Power Platform, including Power Automate, Microsoft Power Apps, Microsoft Power Virtual Agents, and Microsoft Power BI.

To ease call volumes, the team created an automated telephone service using Twilio, a communication API service that connects to Microsoft Dataverse via Power Automate. Citizens call the number and enter their Special Cash Payment program application number. Power Automate receives the request and queries the application status stored in Dataverse and responds back to Twilio, which plays an automated message relaying the status to the citizen. The team deployed the solution in just a few weeks, reducing the call volume by 90 percent, from 40,000 to 4,000 calls a day.

The city deployed three other apps within a month, including a chatbot that responds to frequently asked questions about COVID-19, created using Power Virtual Agents, and Power BI dashboards that automatically update COVID-19 information on the city’s website. The IT manager mentored a university student who added another—all built with minimal time and resources using Power Platform.

The takeaway

The City of Kobe demonstrated the real-world speed and impact of low-code tools in the hands of few individuals, even those without specialized technical skills. The City of Kobe now anticipates a new age of agile solutions, according to Kobe’s mayor, Kizo Hisamoto. “The COVID-19 response services that the City of Kobe officials built with Microsoft Power Platform has proven to be a superior way to start offering services that were developed in an agile way.  We’d like to further expand these capabilities.”

Take a closer look how the city of Kobe connects citizens to key information during COVID-19 with Microsoft Power Platform.

3. Partners in Health reduces repetitive tasks

Partners In Health (PIH) delivers health care to the world’s poorest places, partnering with local governments in 11 countries to bring modern medicine to those most in need. The Boston-Massachusetts-based social justice and healthcare nonprofit relies on global teams—a distributed work environment comprising many different languages, technologies, and locations.

PIH needed to increase visibility and share information across its globally distributed unites, streamline data sharing, eliminate roadblocks, and generate new efficiencies. The solution: automate tasks across teams using Power Automate.

PIH used Power Automate to create cross-application flows, automate recurring tasks, and provide staff with tools that they can easily use to build their own flows to improve productivity and processes. By allowing those closest to challenges solve them using Power Automate, staff had low-code tools to modernize the organization’s processes at a large scale—ultimately empowering PIH to make data-informed decisions that improve its delivery of healthcare services.

The takeaway

PIH solved a problem with global scale and impact—streamlining processes and reducing repetitive tasks for teams across 11 countries, each with unique logistical challenges. By empowering each team with simple low-code tools, the organization is on a path to continuous improvement. Each team can build the solutions it needs on its own, with tools any team member can master.

“With Power Automate, we can streamline processes and make data actionable to ultimately enhance decision making and advance PIH’s effort to serve patients and support our community.”—Bella Chih-Ning, Senior Information Systems and Analytics Manager, Partners in Health

Take a closer look at how Partners in Health empowers its people to improve processes and respond faster with Power Automate.

Create your own automation success story

The common thread running between these three organizations—a beverage bottling company, a major metropolitan government, and a global healthcare nonprofit—is the need to rapidly build and deploy automation solutions at scale. Empowering those closest to the problem with low-code automation tools, organizations are breaking down barriers to make an impact in the communities they serve.

Learn about recent updates to Power Automate that are automating automation, including process advisor which provides a deeper understanding of processes best suited for automation; as well as Power Automate Desktop, which extends automation to on-premises processes. A supplemental deep dive article takes a closer look at the new capabilities.

Also, explore more real-world stories from global organizations solving unique challenges with Power Automate, including how T-Mobile is creating a range of business solutions with Microsoft Power Platform.