By Volodymyr Marchuk, Cloud and Solutions Architect and Yevhen Berko, Head of Big Data Office at ELEKS
“Hyperautomation” is a modern term coined by Gartner and has been listed as one of the top ten trends for 2021. It’s also been referred to as “digital process automation” by Forrester and “intelligent process automation” by the IDC. Gartner defines hyperautomation as “the idea that anything that can be automated in an organisation should be”. It’s driven by the need to streamline what is, for the majority of businesses, a disjointed hotchpotch of new and old systems and processes which aren’t efficient, agile or synchronised.
As its name suggests, hyperautomation describes a deep level of digital autonomy; the process of automating end-to-end business operations to unburden human workers, optimise efficiencies and reduce costs. It combines together a mix of technologies and methods, which involve machine learning, sentiment analysis, speech analytics, image and video analysis, robotic process automation (RPA), low-code platforms, data management platforms, data visualization, intelligent chatbots, smart workflows, and more.
Main technological pillars
Hyperautomation isn’t a single entity. It comprises multiple different technologies, connected via the Internet of Things, which work in unison to enable end-to-end automation. Here are the key elements:
- Robotic process automation – RPA describes the process of harnessing technologies such as bots to takeover manual tasks that would normally be performed by humans. For example, the quality control of goods moving down a conveyor belt.
- AI is the next step on from RPA, whereby computers are able to simulate human intelligence and this unlocks a far deeper level of automation than RPA alone
- Intelligent business process management approach combines business process management (BPM) software with the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI). This is really the linchpin of hyperautomation. IBMP describes software which has the ability to manage the switch to a hyperautomated environment. It is a strategic tool which handles the processes, strategy and workflow involved in enabling end-to-end automation – and to monitor the results so that issues can be resolved.
How can businesses benefit from hyperautomation
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed our world and businesses have had to clean up operations and become more efficient to survive.
Hyperautomation focuses on automating the work done by knowledge workers, like programmers, engineers, scientists, accountants and lawyers. It is used to support and augment the tasks performed by these businesses. Ideally, hyperautomation creates a software-based digital workforce that enables effective collaboration with the human workforce. It can be used both for simpler tasks such as data reconciliation, paper documents digitalisation and its processing and can also augment and help workers provide insights generated on a vast amount of data in a couple of minutes.
When we talk to our clients we explain how hyperautomation can improve customer and employee satisfaction and boost revenues.
It offers the following benefits:
- Ability to adjust to change. Hyperautomation enables organisations to automate the entire workflow end-to-end, allowing them to scale and flex their operations far more easily. Which, in such a fast-moving business landscape, can mean the difference between failure and survival.
- Real-time insights. We often talk about “real-time” in terms of tech. With hyperautomation and its components working in harmony with one another, the term takes on its true meaning. This means that businesses can instantly identify operational gaps and issues, which enables quicker decision-making and a better customer/user experience.
- Efficiency. By automating the laborious and time-consuming tasks, human employees will become freer to take on more significant, strategic roles within their organisations. For example, it used to take a significant amount of time to develop automation scripts. Now deep learning helps to achieve this in hours. This enables the ability of automation programs to learn patterns without the need to write code, freeing employee time up for other activities.
- Better ROI. When processes and systems are optimised across an entire enterprise, costs can be reduced and profits boosted. What’s more, the insights unlocked by powerful data analytics can allow companies to allocate their resources more efficiently.
Key challenges and what do businesses need to think about before implementing hyperautomation
Hyperautomation and its implementation is not only a set of technical projects but one that will transform the entire business. The complexity of this means that for implementation to be successful comprehensive planning and a full understanding of current processes needs to be made.
- Compatability with existing systems -Many companies that we are talking to have legacy systems that cause problems with the implementation of hyperautomation. For example – one client had a custom workflow management system that did not work well with the automation principles and therefore needed to be replaced. As a result, it was a significant cost to the business and raised risks for business continuity.
- Staff concerns – Adoption of new technologies and changes can become a challenge when we are talking about end-to-end automation. The potential threat to staff and their employment can cause resistance or even opposition. The solution is education and the availability of information. Despite the widespread bias, the goal of hyperautomation isn’t to replace humans as employees. It is to ease the burden of more tedious, simplistic tasks so that human staff can be put to more creative, strategic use. The view is that by combining comprehensive automation with human intelligence, businesses will be able to operate at a higher level and provide a better customer experience.
- Management disconnect – One of the most difficult challenges can be caused by senior executives disagreeing on what process and activities should be prioritised for automatisation. We have found that some may prioritise small and poorly visible opportunities and others may extend the scope too much. It is important to find the right balance between taking a slower approach and reducing risks of improvements with trying to automate as much as possible and quickly. Implementing complex projects requires discipline, project governance and communication across all departments of the organisation.
- Cost –Although hyperautomation technologies are developing rapidly, there is a lot of work to be done in order to break technical limitations. Currently hyperautomation is suitable for processing high-frequency and high-volume tasks (for example – diagnoses based on X-rays or analysing surveillance videos). Automation of knowledge work is one of the most complicated tasks and technical limitations, for example infrastructure costs, can become a real challenge.
- Data- The success of any hyperautomation system will depend on the quality of the data it is automating. Having the correct and right data that is accessible and properly managed is already a challenge for many businesses and this will have a strong impact on the automated process.
Hyperautomation is one of the most important drivers of enterprise efficiency and a competitive differentiator. It can solve many pressing issues and realities of our current world such as:
- The planet for example automatic trash analysis and sorting and detecting forest fires using a radio-acoustic sounding system
- Improving education with sensors and vision to analyze students interaction with learning material
- Saving lives such as the intelligent drone delivering medical treatment in remote locations or the diagnosis of rare diseases through research on historical data
In a digital landscape that’s moving at hyperspeed, hyperautomation offers businesses the right tools to optimise and future proof their operational processes. It is seen by many as the next logical phase of digitisation and, without embracing the potential of an automation and human partnership, companies will struggle to achieve the agility necessary to compete in today’s market.