While talk of self-healing bots, autonomous everything and the automated enterprise fills many a publication, there is at least a number of current automation technologies that are in fact technically feasible and deployed in live settings. This is important to note for any enterprise making near-term plans. Moon shots are undoubtedly risky – and likely to leave you longing. But how do you know which emerging capabilities are worth the investment?
Three key tech domains will supercharge your automation-focused return on investment in 2022 and beyond.
Automated process discovery to fill your pipeline
A collection of automated process discovery technologies is starting to make waves by helping organizations understand process in a whole new light. Though not focused solely on automation opportunities, these technologies will provide process-related insight not gained by any other means. Process mining, task mining and the up-and-coming conversation mining are all tools that can improve process discovery and improvement initiatives. As one ISG client put it, “automated process discovery is like lean on steroids.”
Anyone who has tried to deploy robotic process automation (RPA) at scale knows that pipeline development is key. This means adding the right processes to the funnel enables the RPA center of excellence (CoE) to bring value to the enterprise long after the initial automations have become business as usual.
What is wrong with manually looking for processes? Automated process discovery solves two problems:
- First, remote work makes the manual review of processes much more difficult. When you are not side by side with your SME to assess the full breadth of a process, you leave much on the table and lengthen the documentation stage. In some cases, time and effort are wasted on processes that prove to be ill-suited for automation in the end.
- The second challenge is the breadth of the review. When a process involves more than a single SME, automated process discovery allows every person involved to review it simultaneously. This ensures a process review can happen at a data level, which can then be supplemented by a verbal and digital runthrough. This dual track ensures a more holistic, thorough and far-reaching review, improving your understanding and your chances of success.
Intelligent automation to scale your RPA efforts
Anyone on the RPA journey understands that one of the things missing from their current automations is intelligence. This isn't just the ability to make random off-the-cuff decisions. It includes any action completed by a human’s eyes, ears, mouth or brain. In short, it means seeing, hearing, understanding, communicating and making decisions. As once expertly put by Professor Leslie Wilcox, if RPA takes the robot out of the human, intelligent automation puts the human into the robot.
Intelligent automation makes use of many complimentary technologies to RPA. These capabilities include the kinds of work humans do now: looking at an invoice, reading an email, deciding to approve a loan application or communicating with a customer. It’s these and many more actions that make up most of our current processes. This is why most important tasks cannot be automated with RPA alone.
The major players in the RPA market already understand the need to add capability on top of RPA, which is why you see additional capabilities being built into RPA platforms. Be mindful that each of the capabilities has an entire marketplace itself, so don't presume that all offerings are equal. Deciding whether to take an extra SKU on your existing platform or bring in a new vendor should be done with the specific process in mind. There is no need to smash a nut with a sledgehammer. Choose additional technology wisely, but do choose them. Expanding the reach of your digital workforce is a smart investment.
Process intelligence to monitor process health
Process intelligence is how enterprises will monitor processes in the future, especially manual processes. There are many stories of organizations that aren’t getting the return they expected from automation. This is often because the processes aren’t monitored over a long-enough period and just aren't understood well enough.
This is where process intelligence comes in. It adds data and intelligence layers to improve the way you monitor the ongoing health of your processes. As workplaces become more and more hybridized with on-site and remote workers, monitoring processes and staff will become even more important. Process intelligence will take the guesswork out of staffing needs, budgeting, SLA projections and much more, even when processes are still being completed by people. Intelligent automation will penetrate your organization only so far, at least with the way current processes are designed. Unless you plan on transforming every process in your business to be suitable for automation, process intelligence will become a necessity.
On the path to an autonomous enterprise
The world of technology is moving at a rapid pace, and it’s difficult to know on which emerging technologies to pin your hopes. These three automation capabilities will help you build the proper foundation to make sure your processes help instead of hinder future business planning. These technologies are already becoming a reality in some leading organizations and will become the norm by 2025. Getting on board early will accelerate your existing automation efforts and pave the way for a future autonomous enterprise.
ISG can help you figure out where you are today and where you want to go tomorrow. Contact us to find out what we can do together.