“Automation” has become a big buzzword in the business world, as organizations seek to maximize productivity and free human beings from repetitive, low-value tasks. Automated systems also play an important role in digital transformation, enabling organizations to optimize business processes and enhance the customer experience.
As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes commonplace, organizations are taking automation to the ultimate level — what Gartner calls “hyper automation.” It is defined as the “combination of AI, machine learning, packaged software and automation tools” to perform a wide range of tasks and gain new insight into operations. The power of hyper automation is so great that Gartner has named it a Top 10 Technology Trend for 2020.
A key component of hyper automation is robotic process automation (RPA), which uses software robots to interact with applications. The bots can be programmed to log into software, open and close files, manipulate data, and respond to prompts. RPA can be as simple as copying information from one application to another, or as complex as handling a 30-step transaction across multiple systems.
Because the bots use the same software interface as humans, there’s no need to customize or integrate applications. That makes RPA relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. The staffing cost savings enabled by RPA can be dramatic — the bots can perform tasks much faster than humans while virtually eliminating human error. Not surprisingly, RPA has seen great success in the banking, insurance and financial services sectors.
RPA is also playing an important role in IT. According to Forrester, organizations have automated at least 20 percent of the routine tasks traditionally performed by human help desk technicians. This reduces mean time to resolution (MTTR) and enables IT staff to focus on more complex problems.
A distinct but related concept is business process management (BPM). Also called process automation, BPM goes beyond individual tasks or even workflows to enable the execution and management of processes across people and systems. It is designed to not only increase efficiency but to improve business performance and decision-making. BPM can be combined with RPM to further streamline processes, standardize operations and eliminate waste.
The addition of AI and machine learning in hyper automation enables the creation of “digital twins” — essentially virtual models of processes or physical assets. Network-connected sensors and other devices monitor digital twins and collect mountains of information on their status and condition. This information is analyzed against other contextual data to gain insights into the health and performance of the digital twins. As more data is analyzed, these systems get smarter and smarter. This provides greater visibility into the physical world, enabling organizations to prevent problems, develop new products and services, and assess opportunities. Digital twins can also help organizations better understand customer needs and improve the customer experience.
In other words, hyper automation goes beyond allowing a machine to execute a series of steps in a task. Suddenly, machines are able to see and understand business processes and aid in improving them.
Gartner believes that hyper automation will quickly become essential to business. We at Technologent agree. We have long advocated the use of automation for a wide range of processes, and are leveraging the power of AI for IT operations and cybersecurity. We are here to help you use automation to increase productivity and reduce human error today, and to start developing a plan for a hyper automated future.