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Looking Forward to the Autonomous Intelligent Enterprise

September 19, 2023


“We live in a world of rapid transformation,” writes Hischam El-Agamy, Executive Director at IMD, “a world where digital disruption and megatrends are affecting all industries.”[1] One of those megatrends is the ubiquitous adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). Vijay Neti, a Managing Director with Accenture, writes, “I don’t see a day go by, where I don’t hear of AI and its profound impact — part beneficial and part detrimental — to humans. … As it exists today, AI detects patterns and guides enterprises in making optimal decisions for workers, management, and shareholders alike.”[2] Looking at AI and other emerging industry trends, El-Agamy asks a very interesting question, “Self-drive cars and unmanned aircraft are a reality, so why not autonomous enterprises?” He adds, “Successful … businesses are those that are willing to move away from traditional opportunities and react quickly and decisively to change.” Like some other experts, El-Agamy believes that successful future businesses will move towards becoming autonomous intelligent enterprises.


Towards the Autonomous Intelligent Enterprise


According to analysts from Pegasystems, “The autonomous enterprise is an organization which comprehensively applies AI and automation to engagement, servicing, and operations across the organization to operationalize agility and create a business that can become self-optimizing.”[3] If that sounds a bit like science fiction, you might be surprised to learn that a Pegasystems survey found, “The majority of global decision makers say they plan to fully embrace the autonomous enterprise within the next 10 years. … The study found that 58% of respondents expect to define themselves as an autonomous enterprise within the next 10 years. With just 15% saying they feel they are already at this stage today, and 36% projecting they will reach this point five years from now, the upward curve of autonomous enterprise adoption is clear. Tellingly, three quarters (73%) of respondents said they already have some sort of plan to start becoming an autonomous enterprise. When asked what they expected their position to be 10 years from now, an overwhelming 96% said the same.”


Bill Gates once noted, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” As the Pegasystems analysts note, “One of the leading drivers of this new age of self-optimizing technology is a growing understanding of issues caused by old, inefficient ways of using technology to solve one-off problems.” In other words, the journey towards the autonomous intelligent enterprise begins with the objective of improving business processes not eliminating jobs. In many circumstances, employees will be happier in autonomous intelligent enterprise environments than in traditional business environments. Neti explains, “AI is a tool that is becoming so useful and ubiquitous that it will soon become a kind of sixth sense.” He adds, “There will come a time when cognitive machine learning becomes so advanced that computers will become more than tools — they will, as experts have said, indeed become our sixth sense. They will be a part of us, of our daily existence. … Artificial intelligence is going to amplify our talents and abilities in ways we haven’t even imagined yet — much to the delight of a growing enterprise.”


Don Schuerman, CTO and Vice President Marketing and Technology Strategy at Pegasystems, explains, “By applying the right types of AI and automation across the customer journey, autonomous enterprises continuously adapt to changing customer demands and market dynamics. They operationalize agility on a scale that humans can’t do on their own.”[4] Part of that agility is the ability to make decisions at the speed of today’s business. Schuerman notes, “As business people, we make thousands of routine decisions every day across the enterprise: Should I offer the customer product X or product Y? Do I route this work to person A or person B? From the corner office to the frontline staff, we’re constantly making these judgment calls, both big and small, and acting on them — all day long and as fast as we can.” Several years ago, Bain analysts, Michael C. Mankins and Lori Sherer, explained, “The best way to understand any company’s operations is to view them as a series of decisions.”[5] They added, “We know from extensive research that decisions matter — a lot. Companies that make better decisions, make them faster and execute them more effectively than rivals nearly always turn in better financial performance. Not surprisingly, companies that employ advanced analytics to improve decision making and execution have the results to show for it.” Any autonomous intelligent enterprise will require the ability to make decisions at speed and at scale. To that end, Enterra Solutions® is advancing Autonomous Decision Science™ (ADS®).


Schuerman suggests there are three things businesses can do right now on their journey towards becoming an autonomous intelligent enterprise. First, he suggests businesses should “embed AI in all channels for better, more empathetic customer experiences. … By analyzing each customer action and predicting their unique needs, it can feed customer service agents suggestions in real time.” Second, businesses can “automate routine work to do more with less.” Finally, businesses can “self-optimize processes to eliminate inefficiencies.”


Concluding Thoughts


For years, we have read and heard a lot about the importance of digital transformation. Companies just starting their digital transformation journey should broaden their aspirations — they need to move beyond becoming digital enterprises to become autonomous intelligent enterprises. The road to becoming an autonomous intelligent enterprise obviously passes through the digital enterprise mile marker; however, lingering there could prove costly as competitors push through towards becoming an autonomous intelligent enterprise. Tech journalist George Lawton calls the continuing journey an automation revolution. He explains, “Enterprises are in the early phases of a revolution whose mission is to make more kinds of business systems, equipment and processes perform with less human intervention. This autonomous revolution is rapidly moving from one-off experiments to a collective effort to build digital fabrics that can keep up with the rapid pace of change in supply chains, geopolitics, and the environment. The promise? An increase in efficiency, scalability and profitability on a level previously unknown.”[6]


[1] Hischam El-Agamy, “Self-drive cars and unmanned aircraft are a reality, so why not autonomous enterprises?” I by IMD, 16 January 2023.
[2] Vijay Neti, “Ubiquitous and Cognitive AI will Redefine our Everyday Experiences,” Infosys Insights.
[3] Pegasystems, “The Age of the Autonomous Enterprise is Coming, Says Research,” Cision PR Newswire, 12 June 2023.
[4] Don Schuerman, “The Autonomous Enterprise Is Closer Than You Think,” Forbes, 16 March 2023.
[5] Michael C. Mankins and Lori Sherer, “Creating value through advanced analytics,” Bain Brief, 11 February 2015.
[6] George Lawton, “The push is on to build the autonomous enterprise,” TechTarget, 10 June 2022.

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