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14 January 2020

What will automation look like in 2020?

In this article, we unpack the concept of Hyperautomation and ask whether your organisation is ready for this new digital transformation strategy.

So, what is Hyperautomation? Essentially, hyperautomation involves combining a range of different process automation tools and other advanced technologies to extend or enhance your company’s ability to automate work that has previously been handled by humans.

The reason this methodology has been dubbed ‘hyperautomation’ is because it involves scaling beyond task automation as we know it. In addition to handling repetitive, rule-based tasks, hyperautomation also aims to automate knowledge work through the inclusion of AI and machine learning capabilities, as well as other cognitive services.

So, instead of relying on humans to serve customers 24/7 or perform time-consuming data processing or analysis, a combination of automation and AI solutions can be introduced to handle many of these workloads instead. And because multiple technologies are involved, their capabilities combine to perform more complex processes.

The hyperautomation environment could combine the following technologies:

  • Robotic process automation (RPA):
    This rapidly growing enterprise software category allows you to build software robots that automate the manual tasks that consume employees’ time unnecessarily.
  • Low-code application development platforms:
    These systems allow you to rapidly build applications, digital forms and workflows to manage the movement of tasks, data and other resources between various systems. These platforms also seamlessly bring humans into the loop, helping to create an environment where employees, software robots and other resources work synergistically.
  • AI-enabled services:
    These tools provide machine learning capabilities, natural language processing and other cognitive services that are combined with RPA robots to create a more intelligent automation environment. AI can also be leveraged to inform and improve human decision-making.

The ultimate goal of this approach is to give companies the power to achieve fuller cycle process automation, where a greater range of tasks within each process can be handed off to intelligent software robots and other automated systems.

Beyond technology

Importantly, hyperautomation is not just about leveraging technology in strategic new ways. It is also concerned with empowering humans to fulfil new roles at work.

Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that as automation grows increasingly sophisticated, this will lead to a loss of certain human roles. However, this is also an opportunity to create new roles for people within the workforce. Forward-thinking organisations could use hyperautomation to provide humans with an entirely new level of digital support. This goes beyond merely freeing skilled workers from time-consuming, repetitive work. It’s also about providing human teams with intelligent support, enabling them to draw on capabilities such as machine learning and advanced analytics in day-to-day processes, so they are able to do their jobs better and add more business value.

This sounds familiar. Is hyperautomation another term for intelligent automation?

When you think about it, hyperautomation and intelligent automation are similar concepts. Both involve taking pure automation further by combining readily available process automation tools with AI capabilities to create exciting new opportunities for digital transformation in the workplace.

While hyperautomation is not an entirely new approach, Gartner has expanded on the concept in its strategic trends report[1] by advising that “hyperautomation often results in the creation of a digital twin of the organization (DTO), allowing organizations to visualize how functions, processes and key performance indicators interact to drive value.”

Digital twins are certainly a trend to keep an eye on – but the topic is too complex to delve into here!

Are you ready to ride the new wave of automation?

While you may have already explored automation within your organisation, you may be questioning whether you have the resources to make your automation environment more intelligent this year.

While the evolution of automation may seem overwhelming, there are actually a range of market-ready process automation and AI-enabled technologies that can be combined to take your process automation capabilities into new territory, without the need for an extensive and drawn-out IT change project.

It’s important to understand that you do not need an entire department of software programmers, robot engineers, data scientists and analytics experts to benefit from the new wave of automation!

A Velocity, we specialise in helping businesses of all sizes to harness tools such as robotic process automation and cognitive services in a cost-effective, minimally disruptive and productive way.

We can also help you to avoid or address common digital transformation challenges. For example, research by Forrester[2] has revealed that some of the biggest challenges that companies face when they implement automation projects are strategy- rather than technology-related.

A recent survey of global data and analytics decision-makers found that:

  • 25% of organisations lack “an overall vision or strategy for automation”;
  • 26% face obstacles when it comes to “culture and change management”; and
  • 25% have “gaps in their organisational structure, alignment and readiness”.

These issues are often caused by fragmented or bottom-up automation deployment methods.

How to avoid these obstacles

Given that new approaches to automation involve multiple platforms and services working together, it’s important to have a system for orchestrating and managing all these moving parts. Forrester recommends putting an “automation strike team” into place. This type of team typically works in collaboration with both the IT function and business domain experts, to create process automation standards, perform process analysis, build an agile and user-friendly automation platform and ensure the ongoing success of automation projects. Key responsibilities, according to Forrester, include “strategy, planning, explaining, presenting and championing”.[3]

Velocity can help

We can act as your automation strike team, providing technology and process automation expertise to guide you through your next phase of digital transformation – no matter whether you’re only just beginning to explore automation or whether you are looking to retune the automation strategy you already have in place.

Velocity can help your business departments to determine the processes ripe for automation and work with your IT department to decide which technologies suit your business needs best. Importantly, we also focus on helping you to achieve tangible results from your technology investments, both now and in the future.