How to ensure success from hyperautomation projects

The emerging technology that is hyperautomation brings artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA) and data science together to streamline operations and relieve strain on staff. This has disrupted the infrastructure of companies across multiple sectors, but ensuring success from hyperautomation projects requires full understanding of how it works, and how it can help to reach business goals.

“Hyperautomation and its implementation is not only a set of technical projects but one that will transform the entire business,” said Volodymyr Marchuk, cloud and solutions architect at Eleks.

“The complexity of this means that for implementation to be successful comprehensive planning and a full understanding of current processes needs to be made.”

In this article, we take a look at how organisations can ensure long-term success from hyperautomation projects, while getting the entire workforce on board.

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Assess business goals

As with any digital transformation initiative, hyperautomation projects aren’t to be entered lightly, and aren’t a one and done deal. Business goals set out from the top down need to firstly be addressed in order to gain true value.

“To deliver success from hyperautomation initiatives, leaders must first assess their business goals,” said Luis Huerta, vice-president and intelligent automation practice head, Europe at Firstsource.

“Instead of deploying technology for ‘the sake of it’, leaders need to look at the desired outcomes and then evaluate if and how hyperautomation can help to reach these.

“Once hyperautomation has been deemed the right approach, leaders must ensure the appropriate framework is in place to guarantee success.

“One way to do this is to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) – an in-house entity that provides best practices for implementation and tracks business outcomes. The CoE team can train and upskill employees to work alongside the technology. It will also drive tech awareness across the organisation, enabling business units to automate processes in line with best practice. In short, with a CoE hyperautomation can be deployed holistically and consistently across the company.”

Examine compatibility

Along with taking business goals into account, tech teams need to thoroughly look through the infrastructure they already have, to ensure that hyperautomation would be truly compatible.

“Many companies that we are talking to have legacy systems that cause problems with the implementation of hyperautomation,” explained Marchuk.

“Most of the banks we deal with have an extensive number of different applications and systems, like a core banking system, accounting, CRM, scoring and fraud detection, reporting. Some of these can be custom developed, others are legacy systems.

“For such technological landscapes, integration projects can be a real challenge that requires significant investment, planning, communication and interaction between multiple departments.”

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Understand your data

Another key aspect to consider when looking to gain success from hyperautomation projects is the data at the company’s disposal, the amount of which is bound to grow exponentially over time. As this data continues to be generated, organisations must gain a full understanding of all relevant assets, in line with the goals set out.

“The pandemic put businesses under a lot of stress and for some, hyperautomation, while still a relatively new concept, emerged as a golden key to solving workflow and business problems alike,” said Paul Maguire, senior vice-president of EMEA and APAC at Appian.

“If understood and used correctly – while underpinned with the most relevant pool of data – hyperautomation can afford significant advantages, such as overcoming the scarcity of skilled IT professionals, enabling the rapid deployment of applications, and building resilience in your business systems to deal with future crises.”

Bexley Health Neighbourhood Care GP Federation: an example within healthcare

An instance that comes to mind for Maguire is the use of hyperautomation technology by Bexley Health Neighbourhood Care GP Federation: “The healthcare provider created a command and control workforce tracker to keep both staff and patients safe while treatments for Covid-19 are carried out.

“The application was designed and deployed in just one week using the Appian Low-Code Automation platform meaning it was in use quickly to serve more patients and protect frontline workers than if a slower and less agile method was used.”

Continuous integration

According to Paul Gampe, CTO of Console Connect by PCCW Global, a key factor in the increasing adoption of hyperautomation is the use of a continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) pipeline, a series of steps that must be performed in order to deliver a new version of software. Due to the constant change that the data driving hyperautomation is susceptible to, it pays to keep tabs on processes often, and adapt the model accordingly.

“One of the big trends in hyperautomation right now is looking at the continuous integration of automation across an organisation’s operations, which can include things like a continuous development cycle, and establishing a CI/CD pipeline,” explained Gampe.

“One of my key learnings with automation is that you constantly need to be testing these automated processes because they’re infinitely complex and things change all the time.

“If you’re not continuously testing your automated processes then you have no assurance that they are always going to work. For example, we have a framework that randomly and automatically tests a wide range of capabilities across the Console Connect platform every 24 hours.”

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Consider company culture

Finally, no hyperautomation project will be truly successful if the whole workforce isn’t on board. This calls for clear explanation from company leaders on what embarking on such an initiative would mean, the goals in mind, and what is needed from staff to help the organisation achieve said goals.

“Company culture is key to helping an organisation efficiently embrace hyperautomation,” said Huerta. “Introducing new technologies can create resistance within an organisation; job security concerns are inevitable.

“It is important to address such fears and tackle the misconceptions underlying them. When embracing hyperautomation, the company needs to educate employees about automation benefits, establishing an organisation-wide automation mindset.

“Ultimately, an engaged workforce, alongside executive buy-in, is key in enabling hyperautomation programmes to be successful and scale. Therefore, it is critical that decision-makers communicate the benefits of these technologies to both employees and senior leadership.”

Possible staff concerns

Given that an October 2020 study by the World Economic Forum predicted machines to half of all work tasks globally by 2025, it is little wonder that concerns among staff in regards to their value and skill sets can arise when hyperautomation projects are discussed. But it’s vital for leaders to make it clear to employees that their contributions will be important in getting the best out of the incoming capabilities. After all, hyperautomation models aren’t able to work perfectly without input and monitoring from human colleagues.

“The potential threat to staff and their employment can cause resistance or even opposition. The solution is education and the availability of information,” added Marchuk.

“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.”

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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.