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Trends 2022: Automation

January 18, 2022

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The current labor shortage has shone a spotlight on automation as organizations struggle to find ways to increase production without having to rely on hiring more humans. Although many analysts believe the labor shortage will eventually sort itself out, the reshuffled workforce will permanently change the face of the business landscape. Marcus Torres (@mtorres_tweet), General Manager of IntegrationHub and Vice President of Platform Product at ServiceNow, believes that hybrid work strategies will play a larger role in the future, which will also encourage more organizational automation. He explains, “Here’s a safe prediction about 2022: Digital transformation spurred by the shift to hybrid and remote work will continue, and in many cases accelerate. … As we move past pandemic-triggered transformation into the next wave of digitization, I expect exciting developments in two areas of technology, both of which allow teams to operate smarter and faster: low-code platforms and hyperautomation.”[1]

 

Hyperautomation has been defined as automating everything that can be automated. Borya Shakhnovich (@boryaShax), CEO of airSlate, agrees with Torres that hybrid work strategies will accelerate the pace of automation in many organizations. He writes, “Over the past year, we’ve seen businesses continue to push towards digital transformation, and automation has been a key part of this shift. Considering continued remote work offerings and higher demand for digital collaboration, I expect this trend to continue into next year and onward.”[2] Below are a few other automation trends to which organizations should pay attention.

 

Automation Trends

 

Hyperautomation. As Torres pointed out, hyperautomation is likely to increase in the years ahead. Analysts from the Nasscom Community explain, “Hyperautomation is based on the concept that if a process can be automated, then it should be automated.”[3] They predict, “2022 will witness organizations of various sizes and industries marching ahead with automating processes saving a lot of manpower, time, and cost. Organizations will unlock productivity, accelerate time‑to‑market, and transform employee and customer experiences with Hyperautomation.”

 

Human Workforce. Shakhnovich writes, “There’s no question some industries have been hurt by a shortage of qualified workers, and industries that are feeling this the most, such as supply chain and insurance, may need to consider automation solutions in order to remain operationally effective in the coming years. It’s no longer a matter of wanting to accomplish tasks more efficiently, it’s simply a matter of survival.” On the other hand, he notes, “Automation is not as smart as people believe, [and] we should look at it through the lens of where the human component is still beneficial to automation and machine learning.”

 

Robotic Process Automation. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a technology that uses software bots to automate routine, rules-based business processes (aka grunt work). Business journalist Vishal Muktewar (@Vishal_Muktewar) predicts, “Technologies such as integration as a service (iPaaS), business process automation (BPA), and low-code application platforms (LCAPs), and end-to-end Robotic Process Automation platforms are the technologies that seem to engage in a battle to be the only platform where other technologies will be dependent on. But, given the influence and many benefits of Robotic platforms, RPA will reign supreme.”[4]

 

Intelligent Automation. Diego Lomanto (@diego_lomanto), Vice President of Product Marketing for UiPath, predicts, “This year, the industry takes big strides in bringing ‘AI inside’ to make automation faster, easier, and more resilient than ever before. Today, automation developers must tell robots what to do, step-by-step: ‘Move here, open this, extract that, bring it there…’ So even in drag-and-drop, low-code environments, building a complex automation can be, well, complex. But semantic automation lets developers move away from rules-based approaches. Semantic software robots will be able to simply observe an activity and begin to emulate it without step-by-step instructions. They’ll recognize the process, understand what data is required, and know where to get this data and where to move it.”[5] At Enterra Solutions®, we call this Cognitive Process Automation™. Nasscom Community analysts add, “Jobs like scanning an invoice, reading an email, deciding to approve a loan application, or communicating with a customer require automation with intelligence. And as the organizations are in the process of automating tasks that require human intelligence, intelligent automation will become the need of the hour.”

 

Automated Decision-making. Nasscom Community analysts insist, “Leading-edge companies are using automation with AI and Machine learning (ML) as the front lines of actions, decision-making, and analysis.” At Enterra Solutions, we are advancing Autonomous Decision Science™ (ADS™), which combines mathematical computation with semantic reasoning and symbolic logic. The Enterra ADS™ system analyzes data, automatically generates insights, makes decisions with the same kind of subtlety of judgment as an expert, and executes those decisions at machine speed with machine reliability. Although cognitive technologies are primarily considered to be augmented intelligence decision-making platforms, ADS means some decisions can be reliably made by machines. Wayne Butterfield (@Waynaldo82), Director of ISG’s European AI Automation practice, writes, “Unless you plan on transforming every process in your business to be suitable for automation, process intelligence will become a necessity.”[6] He also believes process intelligence will advance the journey towards an autonomous enterprise. He explains, “These technologies are already becoming a reality in some leading organizations and will become the norm by 2025. Getting on board early will accelerate your existing automation efforts and pave the way for a future autonomous enterprise.”

 

Cloud-based Automation. According to Nasscom Community analysts, “To realize its true potential, automation technology needs to be simpler and more accessible, and this means cloud-based using technologies such as containers and microservices.” Lomanto adds, “It may not be the most riveting aspect of the automation market, but delivery is often a critical consideration in the platform purchase decision. And today, when it comes to choosing an automation platform, the market is increasingly demanding more flexibility and less lock-in to a particular delivery model. That, in turn, is spurring automation technology companies to develop platforms that can be delivered from software as a service (SaaS) to on-premises with minimal upheaval and disruption — and that allow for low-friction transitions to new delivery modes. For many automation technology companies, that means adopting cloud native architectures that leverage containerization and microservices.”

 

Concluding Thoughts

 

Lomanto observes, “Automation has never been a static category: rapid growth, constant innovation, broader adoption are all baked into its DNA. But in 2022, the category will move faster and farther than ever before.”[8] In order to have automation “baked into its DNA,” an organization requires a corporate culture supportive of automation. Muktewar explains, “To extract the most value from any automation project, it is important that the organization culture embrace and support the automation challenges.” He cites Rich Waldron (@richwaldron), CEO of Tray.io, who stated, “I think any organization worth its salt, which wants to grow at a rapid pace, is going to need an automation mindset. If you think about the size and distribution of the workforce, and the fact that we’re investing more in technology, it’s only natural that the path to that kind of progress will be having an executive suite that is totally aligned on the value and benefit of automation, and the importance of being able to automate away the painful manual work that’s a poor utilization of the workforce’s skills and time.”

 

Creating an organization culture that embraces automation won’t be easy. Centuries ago, Niccolo Machiavelli, in his classic The Prince, wrote, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.” Nothing represents “a new order of things” more than automation technologies.

 

Footnotes
[1] Marcus Torres, “2022: The Year of Hyperautomation and Low Code,” The New Stack, 13 December 2021.
[2] Borya Shakhnovich, “What Automation Will Bring in 2022,” Dataversity, 7 December 2021.
[3] Nasscom Community, “Automation Trends 2022 – More and more automation the year ahead,” Daily Host News, 15 December 2021.
[4] Vishal Muktewar, “Four Automation Trends to Watch in 2022,” Enterprise Talk, 29 November 2021.
[5] Diego Lomanto, “Top 10 Automation Trends in 2022,” UiPath Blog, 18 November 2021.
[6] Wayne Butterfield, “Top 3 Automation Trends for Your 2022 Plans,” ISG, December 2021.

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