The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organizations to change the way they work, driving the rapid uptake of new tech within businesses. Abrupt changes in working practices meant technologies that facilitated complete flexibility, especially for remote connection and collaboration, were catapulted into the forefront as businesses faced ever-changing circumstances.
With adaptable, remote infrastructure now rushed into place, most of the 2021 trends forecast by the research giants were those building on its uncapped potential. One example that could have the biggest impact on digital transformation and the broader virtual landscape is what Gartner dubs as ‘hyperautomation’.
Simply speaking, hyperautomation takes the notion of automation, in which a manual process is replaced by a computer or machine, and broadens its application by stringing multiple processes into one complex flow.
According to Gartner, hyperautomation will be worth almost £430 billion by 2022 and has the potential to lower IT operational costs by 30 percent by 2025. So, it’s understandable that it is seen as one of Gartner’s top tech trends for 2021 and beyond.
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Out with the old, in with the new
While task automation is not a new concept, the arrival of new tools, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA) and low code application development platforms, drives a real step-change in its potential. In automation’s present form, teams can identify a repetitive task and design a workflow to replicate the job automatically. However, this fragmented approach is too inefficient to be scalable, with workflows typically designed individually and distinctly.
Hyperautomation takes automation to the next level by considering whole business processes and automating entire workflows end-to-end. While hyperautomation was previously hindered by the complexity of analysis required for even the most basic human tasks, advances in ML and computer-aided decision-making now means the need for continual human input for some tasks is increasingly reduced. This holistic approach can automate entire job functions, in most cases improving upon the efficacy, efficiency and accuracy of the human user. In addition, in this integrated approach the entire process is confined to a single dashboard, making it easier for the IT department to manage.
For example, one use case would be in software development. By adding the application of AI to low code and no-code application development platforms, you can create software that aids and augments the application building process and automates trickier composition tasks, as well as flagging and helping fix any new issues, acting as an on-board advisor. This in turn will negate the need for businesses to source software developers every time they need a minor fix or new application.
Imagine solutions that use AI to continuously learn from your and others’ usage, to then offer recommendations as to how system improvements can be made based on your work processes. The aim is to reduce complexity and maximize time to value through guided and straightforward system configuration.
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Automation of laborious and repetitive tasks is something the world’s workforce will celebrate. The pandemic has provided a strong incentive for CEOs to invest in automation, as companies come under pressure to implement social distancing, reduce office numbers, and minimize physical contact. To ring in these changes, ‘automation architects’ will become highly sought after by companies. While 20 percent of companies with hyperautomation requirements currently employ an information architect, Gartner expects this to reach 90 percent by 2025.
Business leaders not only have to convince employees that hyperautomation technologies are advantageous to the business but must now begin to retrain or upskill their teams in readiness and ensure that implementation is carried out ethically and in a way that is right for customers and employees. As new automation technologies take over certain menial tasks, there will be an emphasis on process skills like active listening and critical thinking, as well as cognitive abilities, like creativity and collaborative problem-solving. This marks a move away from traditional technology user training towards using tech in a way that augments and adapts to their current roles.
Reports by Deloitte have found that one in four (23 percent) of workers have seen a change in ways of working because of the implementation of automation technology, while one in 10 have already had to retrain because their role has been affected.
According to the same Deloitte report, many business leaders have yet to consider how their employees' roles will be impacted by automation technologies, and the potential need to retrain and reskill their workforces - meaning many could be caught off guard.
Successful hyperautomation isn’t just about new tech, it’s about readiness among people. Equipping teams with new skills will enable new technologies to be integrated into businesses more effectively. It will also support in changing workers’ perceptions of automation technologies as a potential threat to their career, into a vital asset that supports their day-to-day work and truly takes us into the next digital age.
Offering such diverse potential, hyperautomation is proving to be a serious consideration when it comes to transformative business technology. Organizations pursuing these advances must now embark on their own hyperautomation strategy. That starts with considering the most viable use cases for automation and the data and documents involved in those processes, and assigning the right team to manage it including subject matter experts, process owners and IT specialists. Finally, businesses require a comprehensive, birds-eye plan for implementation that accounts for the requirements of the entire process and the project's end goal.
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Gareth Williams, Managing Director of Product, Intelastel