AI-led business processes – getting the balance right between business impact and staff satisfaction

David Semach, CEO of AIM Reply, spoke to Information Age about how businesses can keep staff motivated and productive alongside AI-led business processes

AI-led business processes – AI is helping companies redesign business processes enabled by technologies including AI, data science, machine learning (ML), hyperautomation, robotic process automation (RPA) and business process management (BPM) – allow organisations to quickly find, test and automate as many processes as possible, for the purpose of augmenting and accelerating work tasks. Predicted to be worth $32m in 2022 and projected to rise to $155bn by 2032, the global AI & hyperautomation-led business process market is set to continue thriving as workforces come up with new ways to be efficient around day-to-day duties and even higher-impact, long-term operations.

However, organisations still struggle to align AI and hyperautomation projects with those all-important business goals and business benefits, leading to uncertainty, tech sprawl and eventual project failure – resulting in wasted costs. Common barriers to success include spaghetti code, fear and resistance to AI, lack of a secure foundation, and missing leadership buy-in.

“I think that the current approach for adopting AI and hyperautomation is wrong,” said David Semach, CEO of artificial intelligence boutique AIM Reply. “The strategy deployed by many businesses today approaches AI and hyperautomation led business processes similarly to how robotic process automation has been experienced over the last five to 10 years – on a tactical use case to use case basis.

“The business process needs to be taken from end-to-end, analysing the whole business process from expected business KPIs, inbound and outbound processes, to operational activities. Business processes and business functions such as finance, supply chain, commercial, procurement, manufacturing and others, should all be redesigned to include AI and hyperautomation advancements. ”

Alongside this, business and tech leaders together must ensure that all employees are taken and kept on the digital transformation journey, maintaining engagement every step of the way. Here, we explore how a tech integrator can help achieve the right balance between AI & hyperautomation innovation and staff adoption and satisfaction.

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Rethinking AI and hyperautomation-led business process adoption

Staying focused on the long-term business goals and business benefits are key to keeping staff engaged, which is vital to avoiding the trend of downturns in tech talent retention that has swept industries globally over the past year. Once all processes have been assessed, the key decisions required of each process, and where exactly AI intervention would come in useful, need to be clearly determined.

“This is not about building an autonomous vehicle-type capability – having a human-in-the-loop is critical,” said Semach.

Every business will have its own particular missions and motivations, so aligning technologies including AI, data science predictions, AI recommendation engines, RPA and machine learning with the processes where they are necessary goes a long way in helping achieve those goals.

When it comes to striking the right balance between efficiencies, the business benefits and the needs of staff, a top-down approach to leadership that encourages any required retraining and development of skills is key. This would be necessary for transitioning employees from administrative tasks that may feel mundane and low-impact, to higher-level activities that have a higher impact on the company bottom line. Working with an integrator like AIM Reply can further assist the discovery of retraining and rescaling opportunities for the workforce.

“Stakeholder communication and change management are absolutely essential, and in my view are widely underestimated and undervalued,” Semach added.

Additionally, personalised training schemes can clearly demonstrate and prepare employees for the future roles that could emerge as a result of evolving technology – helping to quell any long-term fears of job loss.

Future evolution of AI & hyperautomation capabilities

Looking to the next few years of AI & hyperautomation innovation, Semach predicts an increase in end-to-end processes involving AI capabilities. While seen in parts today, it is showing signs of potential scale that would create larger impacts on business processes.

In addition, businesses across multiple industries are predicted to focus more on the value add that can only be contributed by human employees. According to research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), just 30 per cent of AI investment is spent on algorithms and technologies, while the remaining 70 per cent has gone towards embedding AI into business processes and agile ways of working. This shows that the advanced organisations are already making this perception shift.

“There is a needed focus on people, rather than the technology, to design a true AI and hyperautomation-led process,” said Semach.

When it comes to development of the software, meanwhile, Semach believes that there will be more of a shift to low-code and no-code automated coding, such as which is seen with tools such as AutoGPT.

He explained: “This will enable everyone in the workforce to do the development themselves.”

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Empowering staff efficiency alongside a tech integrator

The expertise within, and alongside that of partner companies of AIM Reply has been vital in helping organisations across retail, consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, logistics, financial services and insurance drive value from evolving AI capabilities. Focused on serving as a boutique for AI and hyperautomation platforms and solutions, the company encourages its clients to adopt an end-to-end approach that focuses on business goals, enabling the business make informed decisions based on data, and business benefits, rather than use cases.

Semach explained: “I think that some of the other firms are thinking about this much more tactically and more technically – finding use cases for implementation with software like data science algorithms, ML models, recommendation engines, simple analytics like PowerBI and Tableau, and RPA products like Automation Anywhere or UiPath. But what we’re doing is turning that concept around, and thinking first about the business process end-to-end, and building the whole solution to fit the strategic objective of the company.

“We are technology-agnostic, working with multiple partners across AI, machine learning, data science, hyperautomation, and other areas.”

This approach prevents vendor lock-in for businesses, allowing for more bespoke end products. Semach continued: “as opposed to the ERP space where SAP is used today by 80 per cent of the Fortune 500, AI is still rapidly evolving and we recommend keeping the solution as best-of-breed, flexible, and leverage open source, rather than lock into one vendor. ”

Going forward, Semach sees a shift in the role of consultancies and integrators like AIM Reply, to focus more on business transformation, and software development aspects that can’t be completed by using low-code or no-code capabilities.

“While today consulting firms and integrators will tend to do all of the development, the proportion of coding carried out by us will be drastically cut to around 50 per cent,” Semach concluded.

This article was written as part of a paid content campaign with Reply.


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.