Digitization of new and partially digitized workflows is in full swing. These workflows and processes have been re-imagined from the ground up to ensure they could be carried out remotely. By doing so, businesses were not just solving the immediate, pandemic-driven crisis situation in which they found themselves. They set themselves up to take advantage of the many benefits of digitization in the longer term.
Digitization didn’t just up the pace of change, it raised the stakes for survival.
Extracting value from digital
Surviving and thriving in the connected economy relies on leveraging those connections for maximum value. Automation is a case in point. Businesses have been automating their processes for years, resulting in faster turnarounds, increased accuracy and greater efficiencies. However, these pockets of automation are seen as the low-hanging fruit, the easy wins that did not require major adjustments—certainly not a root-and-branch re-think of the business.
Fragmented automation will certainly speed up processes, but the game-changing advantages can only happen when businesses scale their automation efforts beyond individual siloed processes, instead connecting these critical tasks together and automating entire workflows.
Streamlining workflows in this way is often called intelligent automation (IA), although it is also sometimes called digital process automation (DPA) or intelligent process automation (IPA). Intelligent automation leverage analytics, machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA) and AI to join together workflows seamlessly.
In this blog we’re going to take a closer look at why intelligent automation is in such high demand now, how it benefits organizations and what the future holds for enterprises embarking on this process of digitization.
Why IA and Why Now?
As a concept, intelligent automation is not new. It’s appeared as a fixture in automation roadmaps and hype cycles for years. Now, thanks to recent rapid advances in digitization and digital maturity, intelligent automation is becoming a realistic near-term prospect.
Technologies such as RPA, that serve as a foundation for many IA initiatives, are now well established – according to Gartner, 90 percent of large organizations will be deploying RPA in some form by 2022. Although RPA is among one of the fastest-growing segments in the automation market, there are many other automation disciplines and, together, they represent a $596.6 billion opportunity. Automation and AI technologies combined will deliver far-reaching benefits that are greater than the sum of individual automation projects. This multiplier effect will bring agility and efficiency to processes, systems and organizations on a scale that would not be possible otherwise. The intelligent automation revolution is already underway.
Improving Agility and Speed with Automation
With the right planning, intelligent automation is solving real-world business challenges. The benefits cited most often are increased speed and efficiency. For example, Apexon recently worked with an investment bank to automate its manual client onboarding process. By creating a bot to download KYC data from multiple regulatory websites, the bank was able to automate the approval process for clients, saving 80+ manual hours each month.
Intelligent automation doesn’t just speed up previously manual processes, it increases the accuracy of many workflows, delivering improved overall quality and trust. This was the case with a leading modular space storage company which deployed an intelligent automation solution to improve database accuracy. Previously, the manual error rate in updating the company’s rental inventory was 40 percent, meaning the data required a time-consuming – and costly – “clean-up”. Apexon implemented an unattended bot to identify errors, log into the ERP system and perform the necessary updates 200-300 times per day, ensuring improved accuracy and saving resources.
Putting Intelligent Automation To Work
In the above examples, as in many others, intelligent automation has resulted in increased business speed, agility and efficiency. However, despite the increased investments in automation, some companies struggle to deliver tangible results from automation at scale. Poor planning, difficulties in identifying appropriate automation business use cases and lack of skills to implement them can all hinder intelligent automation efforts.
Having helped clients across multiple sectors benefit from advanced automation at scale, we’ve seen first-hand the proliferation of tools and establishment of best practices in the last few years that make it easier to successfully bed in the tools and processes associated with intelligent automation. One of the first, and most important, steps is the strategy and ideation phase to identify the best high-ROI automation opportunities in the business. When considering areas for automation, IT and business leaders need to consider to what extent automation will help deliver on your business goals. Other questions to ask are:
Where are the business pain points currently?
Can the business process(es) be further optimized, are they automation candidates?
How can automation efforts be coordinated to deliver more value?
What skills and resources do we need to achieve automation?
How do we upskill and train our employees to leverage automation effectively?
Implementing intelligent automation involves a blend of skills, platforms and technologies. For example, automating manual tasks and processes can be achieved with RPA, RDA and low-code connectors. Unlocking data trapped in physical formats is accomplished using technologies such as OCR (Optical Character Recognition), ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition), computer vision and NLP. The “intelligent” fabric usually comes in the form of automated decision-making, achieved with ML, AI and analytics.
Beyond Intelligent Automation
Taking intelligent automation to the next level results in “hyperautomation” which is the process of identifying all the opportunities for automation within an enterprise. It’s a systematic, business-driven initiative and the results are transformative and far-reaching, often reconfiguring how businesses deploy resources and interact with technology.
Hyperautomation – as with all forms of automation – has become a realizable goal thanks to the increased digitization and digital transformation undertaken by enterprises. More than that, Gartner’s Fabrizio Biscotti said of hyperautomation that it “has shifted from an option to a condition of survival.” Unsurprisingly, hyperautomation is one of Gartner’s major strategic trends in 2022.
The drive towards intelligent and hyperautomation should be seen within the wider megatrend for solutions that help bring together disparate processes in organizations, a key takeaway from Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends 2022. Businesses are increasingly looking to reengineer their siloed systems so that their digital assets are more usable and deliver value to the bottom line. For example, data engineering is a first step to many advanced analytics initiatives; cybersecurity engineering creates a cohesive approach to securing digital assets based around identity; or AI engineering, which optimizes the use enterprise-wide use of AI.
For many organizations, strategically selecting high-ROI projects for intelligent automation is still the best way to begin their automation journey. It should come as no surprise that one of the fastest growing segments in the automation space is hyperautomation-enabling tools which help businesses gain a holistic view of their business processes and manage activities across multiple systems. In other words, businesses are ramping up for hyperautomation. They can clearly see the benefits and that those competitive advantages are within reach.
Are you ready for hyperautomation? Whatever stage your business is on its automation path, Apexon’s team of automation experts can help solve your business and technology challenges. You can find out more about Apexon’s Intelligent Automation Services here or get in touch directly using the form below to find out how we can help improve agility and processes in your organization.