While standard automation may have already liberated employees from many monotonous tasks, hyper-automation has taken this a step further, especially when it comes to facilitating remote and hybrid working. Recent research into the technology, conducted by Ivanti, has found that 92% of EMEA CISOs agreed they need to put additional IT security measures in place to facilitate remote working this year. This is where hyper-automation can be an incredibly useful tool, enabling improvement of security, IT performance and, ultimately, profitability. In this article, we explore the hottest hyper-automation trends that are disrupting business, across an array of sectors, today.
A combination of automation technologies
Ivanti’s senior vice-president international, Helen Masters, believes that the biggest hyper-automation trend occurring within organisations is the combination of the technology with machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. This can create a seamless string of automated solutions, requiring very little human intervention or interpretation.
“Hyper-automation differs from the automation we’ve been accustomed to as it combines a multitude of different automation technologies and processes and links them together,” said Masters.
“These data science (DS)-based processes will have a tremendous impact on detecting process failures and other network issues by evaluating patterns in the data associated with them. This data will help drive predictive applications, where DS can identify patterns that direct a robot that needs maintenance soon. It can alert engineers automatically for necessary steps towards repairing a machine before it breaks down, saving companies costly downtime.”
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The global pandemic has highlighted a need for more flexible customer service, using digital channels, as well as the possibility of organisations delivering service without being tied down to a particular location. Both factors have driven increased adoption of hyper-automation, and have led to more differentiation in customer service joining the biggest trends in the space.
According to Luis Huerta, vice-president and intelligent automation practice head, Europe at Firstsource, “as fixed-schedule, routine, processes and tasks are automated in the back-office, the need for staff to be tied to a specific location diminishes. Furthermore, with hyper-automation, the role of human colleagues switches from hands-on task execution to managing and monitoring bots, and dealing with complex business exceptions. This again allows colleagues to utilise their time more effectively and gives them flexibility to manage their working day.
“But hyper-automation is driving a significant shift in the front-office too. As end customers are increasingly able to leverage automated channels to solve their needs, the pressure on support staff reduces and we give front-line colleagues an ability to focus on complex enquiries where a human touch is critical. The focus switches from volume, i.e. ‘how many enquires are dealt by each colleague?’, to quality and value – ‘how are we dealing with customers that require more support?’.
“As hyper-automation gains even more attention in transforming business processes, the collection of technologies it encapsulates is also growing and evolving. Cognitive, machine-learning automation to automate more complex tasks is now a reality and no longer a lab exercise. Big data and advanced analytics to identify automation opportunities (and measure automation initiatives) objectively from business data is also a key success factor. Using these innovations, businesses can reduce time-to-market for new products and services, dramatically transform existing ones, and better service their markets, employees, and communities.”
One particular use case that has been identified as key within hyper-automation is chat bots. Having been utilised by businesses through websites for a while now, hyper-automation could allow these software applications to evolve further and become more intuitive in line with customer needs.
“Hyper-automation isn’t that new. As automation, AI, machine learning, RPA and other technologies have advanced, there’s been a natural integration in how they can support one another,” explained Jason Rees, head of technology solutions and cloud engineering at Oracle.
“For example, the use of chat bots as a cost-effective solution with the power to make more complex decisions than simple data entry. With data being generated today at a rate that is fast outpacing how quickly it can be manually managed and processed, we’ll continue to see the rising popularity of the concept as it enters mainstream business models.
“I predict the adoption of hyper-automation solutions to rapidly increase over the next year, to support changes in customer expectations and business priorities.”
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Is it all hype?
However, it is worth keeping in mind that for all the trends occurring currently, hyper-automation is still an emerging technology with much room to grow. For some experts, there is also the question of whether there are enough concrete use cases for the technology to be truly recognised in the tech sector.
“When you dig a little deeper and see discussions like it’s the ‘next big thing’, and questions like; ‘is your organisation ready for hyper-automation?’, things aren’t concrete there yet.
“Hyper-automation is more a theoretical concept and there are no real use cases for it yet. Therefore, it’s difficult to join the discussion of hyper-automation trends because it doesn’t really exist. It’s just a concept.”