With this week's announcement that the UK government is spending an estimated £327 million on research into robotics and autonomous systems, and as businesses began to realise the economic benefits of using artificial intelligence, the stage is set for Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) technologies to have a real impact on the future of work.
Senior executives across multiple industries think new software 'robots', utilising attributes such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and effective use of big data, is about to unlock significant value within the next three to five years, according to a new study released by IT consultant firm Cognizant.
More than 537 senior business and technology decision-makers think that the benefits of intelligent process automation, and mining the resulting big data with automation-enabled analytics, will bring money and meaning for their businesses: faster processing with fewer errors, unlimited scalability and lower cost of ownership, along with the ability to make more timely business decisions.
Respondents estimate they are already automating, on average, 25-40% of their workflow today, indicating this automation is occurring with workflows that follow rote procedures and manual inputs, paving the way for next generation IPA technologies to drive greater cost savings and efficiency while driving richer business insights when applied to more complex workflows.
About half of the respondents saw automation as significantly improving their business processes within three to five years. However most are still in the early stages of using process automation – the study concludes there is a long tail of process systems yet to be automated, as machine learning and artificial intelligence enable a new generation of knowledge 'robots' that can mimic human actions whilst interacting with multiple applications.
'The future of process work includes connecting skilled people to increasingly powerful technologies such as autonomic computing – including artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning – that can increase savings, enhance insights, and accelerate business. This shift is playing out in just about every industry,' said Gajen Kandiah, executive VP, Business Process Services, Cognizant. 'Our new study findings show that this trend will only accelerate over coming years as business leaders seek agility, better customer understanding, and cost savings.'
And businesses are taking a new approach to their organisational and business process models using automation as a key delivery model to digitise and analyse.
> See also: AI in the enterprise
Charles Sutherland, Executive Vice President of Research at HfS Research, who has been closely researching developments in technology and process automation, said that by implementing software robots, service providers can ensure that work is done around the clock, eliminate human error, and ensure scalability as they save costs and drive revenue.
'Process automation also allows clients and service providers to share benefits including enhanced compliance, reduced risk and improved job satisfaction of staff,' said Sutherland.