Automation continues to be hot topic for our clients, and from our recent hands-on experience, here are some of our views on the five biggest automation trends for 2022:
1. Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation is a priority for an increasing number of our clients, and automation is fast becoming a cornerstone to achieving efficiency in every sector – from automating data entry tasks, to streamlining customer on-boarding.
Recent surveys suggest that automation and AI tools will achieve “near-universal adoption” in the next five years, and that the pandemic has only accelerated the call for digital transformation - creating streamlined, frictionless experiences that satisfy both customers and employees.
Before the pandemic, organisations were trying to drive efficiency, collaboration, and innovation through analogue strategies, like smart office equipment and innovative office design. Today, it’s the companies that have mastered the digital landscape - from collaboration tools (Zoom, MS Teams) to automation tools (intelligent automation, financial process automation and enterprise output management) – who are really thriving.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human processes by computer systems. These include learning (acquiring information), reasoning (using context and rules to reach conclusions) and self-correction (learning from successes and failures).
Popular applications of AI include: image recognition, machine vision, speech recognition, chatbots, natural language processing, and sentiment analysis.
Combining rules-based automation with these ‘Machine Learning’ algorithms, and lower-level artificial intelligence like chatbots become the next game-changer in driving operational efficiency – it will also dramatically widen the net to include increasingly complex business processes that can be automated.
End-to-end process automation is the ultimate goal for most companies. Alongside AI, integrating automation with existing tools like Customer Resource Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) and Business Process Management (BPM) is the key to successfully replicating everyday tasks from start to finish. The dream is to automate entire workflows.
One of the most discussed factors of this equation is eliminating paperwork. Digital leaders are using intelligent bots to extract, file and process data online. Combining this with character recognition (OCR) technology and digital signing can eliminate paperwork completely, while also ensuring higher productivity for relatively mundane activities.
The leaders in this space are the organisations looking to harness their RPA automation expertise, and leveraging it with complementary technologies (like process orchestration and document intelligence) to automate critical and high value business workflows.
Full end-to-end automation can provide a truly satisfying customer experience, as well as achieving the cost-efficiencies your organisation needs.
4. Process Improvement
Automation tools on their own will do nothing to improve a process – they’ll just enable the process to run repetitively with minimal human interaction.
Process automation should be combined with the improvement and re-design of the process itself, rather than just automating in its current state. In so many cases, companies miss out on opportunities to drastically improve the outcomes, quality, and associated costs from automating the right processes first time around.
Structured process mapping, evaluation and re-design are essential tools for businesses looking for longer-term value from automation.
5. Beyond The Cloud
We’re also seeing a shift in the way that automation tools are being offered to customers. With the vast improvements in tech and security in recent years, resource and cost-heavy on-premises implementations are being replaced by cloud deployment, which is lower cost, faster to deploy, and reduces the ‘technical debt’ that plagued early adopters of automation tools.
Automated processes will always consume massive amounts of data - but cloud deployment ensures that there are enough repositories for storage, enabling companies to process data anywhere. That means they can virtually build an infrastructure to deploy automated processes.
We’re now hearing from vendors who are taking this one step further and providing managed service propositions (or ‘RPaaS’ - Robotic Processing as a Service) to outsource process automation capabilities to a full-service provider. These services remove the traditional barriers to entry, such as high start-up and licensing costs, and offers ‘turnkey’ solutions where the vendor will develop, deploy and maintain automated processes on your behalf at a fraction of the usual cost.
We believe this will only become more affordable as larger players enter the market, and smaller firms are able to adopt automation technologies, paying for the end results, rather than the route to get there.
If this article is of interest you, please get in touch with Laurence Walker.