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Scaling automation: How to fast-track digital transformation

The pressure to evolve from selective automation to true end-to-end automation continues to grow, driven by business leaders as well as bottom-up business pressures. This blog explores the technologies and approaches that are supporting rapid automation at scale and offers best practices to help organizations scale automation sustainably and accelerate the path to digital transformation. 

What is hyperautomation? 

The term "hyperautomation" was originally coined by Gartner to describe an approach that aligns all organizational systems and processes to enable organizations to achieve automation at scale.  

Hyperautomation is a holistic and disciplined approach to the identification, prioritization, evaluation, and deployment of relevant automation technologies. 

This accelerated path to digitization can bring together a wide array of technologies including process mining (which turns event data into insights and actions), unstructured and structured data ingestion, digital twins (virtual recreations of a physical object or process), iBPMS (intelligent business process management solutions), LCAPs (low-code automation platforms), RPA (robotic process automation), and iPaaS (cloud services that integrate on-premise and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data). 

 

Hyperautomation in hyperdrive  

Hyperautomation is an approach whose time has come. As businesses wake up to the speed with which they need to automate processes, utilize structured data, and digitize sources of unstructured data, hyperautomation is increasingly part of the conversation. Over 80% of organizations consistently self-reported increased or continued investment in hyperautomation initiatives in 2021, and 56% reported having an average of four or more concurrent hyperautomation initiatives underway.1 

And the trend continues to accelerate: 80% of executives expect to increase spending on digital business initiatives in 2022, 65% are increasing the pace of their digital business, and 72% will shorten timelines for implementing digital business initiatives. 

Colorful Minimalist Linear Steps Circular Diagram (2)

Faster adoption of hyperautomation initiatives will also be driven by the rapidly increasing availability and affordability of automation technology. By mid 2021, the combined venture capital and private equity investment in the new hyperautomation categories of RPA, process mining, process discovery, NLP and virtual assistants had reached $500 million, and the size of the market opportunity worldwide had reached $440 billion.2 The accessibility of these technologies, coupled with the clear business need, is likely to facilitate greater interest in hyperautomation. 

 

Top-down and bottom-up pressure 

Companies are being asked to re-examine or even disrupt the business model in order to stay competitive and maximize revenue and profitability, and the forces accelerating automation come from both the top and the bottom.  

From the top down, company leadership is placing new pressure on business lines and operations to enhance performance. In 2021, 50% of CEOs and 69% of boards of directors were demanding accelerated growth and operational excellence, objectives that are best served by hyperautomation initiatives.  

From the bottom up, employees are desperate to find better ways of collecting and analyzing the mounting volumes of structured and unstructured data so that they can make timely, informed business decisions. Today, 65% of business decisions are more complex than they were two years ago.  

Hyperautomation is crucial to the task of capturing and consolidating content generated by chatbot exchanges, voice calls, emails, IoT sensor data, and other digital sources as well as implementing electronic data interchange (EDI) initiatives that digitize and structure data from traditionally paper-based sources such as purchase orders, invoices, and contracts.  

 

Business benefits of hyperautomation 

There's no question that hyperautomation has a measurable impact on operational efficiency; it’s been projected that by 2024, organizations will reduce operational costs 30% by scaling automation and redesigning operational processes. 

But the true value of hyperautomation goes beyond protecting margins. Hyperautomation provides the ability to:

  • Rapidly collect, consolidate, and analyze the full range of structured and unstructured business data

  • Outpace the competition by bringing a product, service, or experience to market sooner

  • Optimize ROI from investment in automation by putting business technologists in the driver's seat

  • Create products with long-term retention and quick adoption because of the customer-centric focus, improving technology usage and value

 

Emerging best practices  

Hyperautomation isn't about pushing automation initiatives through existing processes faster. It's about finding new ways of addressing the challenges of automating business processes at scale, including improving and accelerating decision-making, enhancing coordination, and adequately staffing a higher volume of initiatives with the right talent. To lay the groundwork for success, incorporate these best practices into the approach.  

 

Develop a decision framework

The challenge The solution
The current vendor landscape for hyperautomation is confusing. Faced with a dizzying array of products offering overlapping features and a “hyperautomation platform” label that is often applied to technology that can't support automation at scale, technology leaders struggle to find the right way forward. Develop a multi-step decision framework to prioritize the key capabilities required and evaluate technologies against them. 

 

Instead of starting with the technology, start by defining the use case and then determining what type of technology is the best fit. For example, a business that needs to spin up more engaging, intuitive UXs for customers or employees will want to explore low-code technologies, whereas a company focused on decision automation will want to look at decision management suites (DMS).   

Once you've identified the technology type, you'll want to apply a series of decision factors to vendor selection, including:  

  • Time to market. How soon do you need this capability in place? Will you sacrifice cost and quality for speed? 
  • Total cost of ownership. Can you justify the cost based on ROI? 

  • Skill requirements. Does your organization have people with the skills needed to design, develop, deploy, maintain the technology? 

  • Vendor maturity. Does a best-of-breed solution or a solution bundle on a single platform fit your organization better? 

 

Coordinate initiatives across the organization

The challenge The solution
While ad-hoc automation initiatives can be launched to generate immediate value in a specific area, this highly tactical approach doesn't scale. Hyperautomation requires a degree of coordination across the organization to accommodate longer-term, strategic needs and deliver economies of scale. Work with your business peers to create a hyperautomation capability map that presents a complete view of all the capabilities required to achieve task automation, process automation, and process augmentation goals. This map is a living record of the organization's progress against the goal of automating everything that can and should be automated.

 

This gives all technology leaders a common point of reference that enables them to understand the role their efforts play in fulfilling the broader organizational mandate to hyperautomate. This type of map can also be helpful in identifying technological redundancies and incompatibilities that can arise with multiple concurrent hyperautomation initiatives. 

 

Empower personnel in "fusion teams"

The challenge The solution
Scaling automation requires the enterprise to bypass IT bottlenecks by rethinking the way technology initiatives are staffed. Teams of subject-matter experts and business technologists empowered with low-code tools and solutions are increasingly critical to the goal of automating at scale. These fusion teams bring together the complementary expertise of product owners, domain experts, and developers in order to fast-track digital transformation. However, fusion team members are taking on ambitious roles, often for the first time, and without the right tools and support, they can quickly step out of their depth.  Fusion teams are new, and their members will need new knowledge and support pathways. Set team contributors up for success by creating opportunities for them to connect with others who perform similar roles, whether inside or outside the organization. Leaders of these initiatives should also be included in the process from end to end, starting with the selection of vendors and carrying through to the design, build, and ongoing discussions around scaling and governing the technology post-implementation.

Finally, team members need to be recognized by the organization for their work and its impact on broader business objectives.

Learn more about the key elements of hyperautomation. Read the e-Book.

 

Sources:

1Gartner, Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022: Hyperautomation, 2021.

2Gartner, Emerging Technologies: Research Roundup on the Hyperautomation Opportunities Ahead, 2021.