As we move into 2022, there’s little doubt that we’ll see the growth in intelligent automation (IA) continue to gather momentum as more decision makers realize the transformative power of this emerging technology. Building on this, a key shift we’ll see is the realization that only a truly unified workforce can deliver a business’s full potential. A unified workforce is one where humans and IA – intelligent digital robots – work as a single cohesive construct.
We’ve now moved past the fear paradigm of seeing digital labour as a risk and instead see it as a partner, or collaborator, and as a means to excel. As mindsets around digital transformation and the future of work progress, so will the technology itself. There has been an impressive growth in the capabilities of intelligent automation in recent years, boosted by advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and complementary technologies.
Moreover, robotic process automation (RPA) has become a key platform and business enabler for AI as businesses leverage AI to increase the sophistication of what can be automated and to support more complex automated interactions between digital workers and human workers and customers.
Throughout 2022, these developments will accelerate even further, continually adding to digital robots’ skill sets. The embedding of AI and machine learning (ML) into digital robots will enable businesses to make automations faster and cheaper to program and execute. This will increase the scope over which they can work, and ease the path toward being able to orchestrate digital robots as they expand across the enterprise. This, in turn, will lead to rapid scaling of automation programs to play increasingly strategic roles in businesses.
Autonomous Intelligent Automation: Business Uses
As intelligent automation becomes more “intelligent,” we’ll gradually be able to see other changes in the way the technology is used. For example, vendors will move toward developments such as autonomous IA, a form of intelligent automation that can be self-defining, self-managing, and self-healing.
The lines between digital process automation (DPA), iPaaS, no code, robotic process automation, and other forms of automation are blurring too. So we will most likely see a future trend toward IA platforms that provide the means to create, manage, and control operations that leverage multi-modal automation across both humans and digital robots.
Shifting mindsets and advancing technology might be heading this way, but what does this mean to businesses? Greater use of intelligent automation will increasingly lead to improved business outcomes for specific target markets and industries – see below. Solutions will become more tailored toward particular industries to deliver their own strategic business outcomes. These might include:
- Reduced labour costs
- Increased quality and compliance
- Improved customer and employee experience
- Stronger business resilience
- Greater agility in competitive markets
Intelligent automation will continue to become increasingly strategic—more focused on key corporate goals such as competitiveness, revenue growth, customer service, and market growth.
Also see: What is AIOps?
Select Industries on the Forefront
It’s become clear that intelligent automation is applicable to almost all sectors but, heading into 2022, growth is expected to be particularly strong in a handful of industries.
Retail has only scratched the surface when it comes to intelligent automation, which offers a hugely efficient way to boost sales, increase customer engagement, and reduce costs.
Manufacturing will leverage intelligent automation to improve customer experience – a trend well under way – and help to swiftly adapt to regulatory changes, and manage complex supply chains.
Healthcare is clearly seeing accelerated usage of intelligent automation. Organizations have recognized its strength in improving interoperability and back-office efficiencies; providing financial stability; enhancing workforce satisfaction; and, most importantly, elevating patient experience.
Utilities are primed for strong growth in IA. Higher customer expectations, adaptations to tackle climate change, meeting regulatory compliance, aging infrastructure, and workforce are all factors that will drive utility businesses towards the use of intelligent automation throughout 2022.
Also see: Top Digital Transformation Companies
A Digital-First Strategy
More than anything, businesses will realize the need to make intelligent automation a strategic priority. Already, tactical and quick-win automations are a thing of the past, so businesses need to go further than they currently are in order to achieve the maximum ROI.
Organizations will approach their challenges at the highest level, orchestrating and rearranging the future management of work, leveraging all business application interfaces – be they legacy applications, modern apps or APIs – to work for their strategic business goals.
However, the deployment and integration of digital robots into the existing workforce is only half the story here. Organizations will give more consideration to how IA can augment their human counterparts’ workloads, enabling them to do more. As intelligent automation’s presence grows within organizations, companies will put greater emphasis on how this new unified workforce is orchestrated for competitive advantage.
In sum, businesses will feel less limited by organizational constructs by completely reimagining processes with a digital-first mindset.
Also see: DevOps, Low Code and RPA: Pros and Cons
About the Author:
Eric Tyree is the head of AI and research at Blue Prism