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Using automation to drive growth in the digital economy

The global economy is being driven as much by data flows as it is by finance and trade, with processes, functions and businesses undergoing rapid transformation.

McKinsey & Company measured the economic impact of digital globalisation and found that, over a decade, economic inflows and outflows of goods, services, finance, people and data have increased current global GDP by roughly 10 per cent over what it would have been in a world without them.

How quickly a company can adapt to global digitalisation will be a factor in its long-term success, and automation can be a critical component to this evolution. To understand the benefits, it helps to understand that automation has three distinct phases.

The first phase, or traditional automation, involves reducing waste by improving efficiencies and productivity. Phase one typically gets most of the attention, and undertaking it is a powerful first step for any business. The second phase, autonomics, involves applying artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to simplify IT operations that allow workers to focus on higher level tasks. The third, orchestration, uses service integration and process orchestration to create unified experiences for end users or customers. It is in the third phase where helpdesk, retail and other functions will be transformed.

Many forward-looking companies have moved beyond the first phase of automation, having used the process to speed up response times and drive IT transformation. These organisations are in the autonomics phase, looking at ways in which artificial intelligence can use analytics to strengthen automation. 

One of the ways in which companies are using the second phase of automation is by using it to create a powerful, unified customer experience.  The third phase of automation will occur when enterprises start looking beyond automating tasks for efficiencies and speed, and start thinking about business agility. How can a business react quickly to changing demand patterns and market needs, and use A.I. and Automation to orchestrate “outcomes” across functional silos, organisational structures, and even external partners and vendors. 

Orchestration needs automation across multi-task and multi-stakeholder processes.  While all the buzz around the market is about machines replacing humans; the true impact of A.I. on business is creating exponential benefits through human-machine “mutual augmentation.” Yes, A.I. will have an impact on human jobs. However, the reality is that A.I. has the potential to increase human productivity and effectiveness, leading to a better type of human job.  

Companies are already re-training employees to work better in environments with A.I. and other smart technologies. What we can expect to see in the future is engineers and IT support staff exploring how to better train and get better outcomes from machines.

We can also expect these same employees to use these technologies to execute a higher order of tasks, make better and faster decisions and in the end provide more value to their customers.

Anand Birje is Senior Vice President-Corporate Development and Strategy for Infrastructure & Digital Services at HCL Technologies

Image source: Shutterstock/Vasin Lee