Automation is a broad topic. The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines automation as “the use of largely automatic equipment in a system of manufacturing or other production process.” Wikipedia elaborates on the subject a bit more: “Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes, namely by predetermining decision criteria, subprocess relationships, and related actions, as well as embodying those predeterminations in machines. Automation has been achieved by various means including mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, electronic devices, and computers, usually in combination. Complicated systems, such as modern factories, airplanes, and ships typically use combinations of all of these techniques. The benefit of automation includes labor savings, reducing waste, savings in electricity costs, savings in material costs, and improvements to quality, accuracy, and precision.” In this article, I want to focus on automation in the digital realm — including concepts like hyperautomation, robotic process automation (RPA), and intelligent automation.
Trend 1. Hyperautomation. It’s not clear whether hyperautomation is actually a trend or a marketing term. Hyperautomation has been defined as automating everything that can be automated. Jason Bloomberg, founder and president of Intellyx, writes, “The question still remains whether hyperautomation is a useful term for describing the next generation of automation technologies — or whether it’s little more than analyst hype.” In his opinion, the prefix “hyper” does little to help organizations lay out an automation strategy. He concludes, “Whether we add the ‘hyper’ prefix or not, two facts are certain: Automation is here to stay, and the technologies that support it are rapidly maturing. The analysts may be confused over what to call the various automation markets, but don’t let that confusion stop you from leveraging the appropriate technologies to address your business transformation goals.”
Trend 2. Automation implementation may slow. Despite the unrelenting pressure to hyperautomate, Craig LeClair, a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, predicts the rate of automation is going to slow in 2023. He writes, “When it comes to automation, the world has changed. Despite significant benefits of automation that have been proven over the past several years, 2023 will see a slight dampening of automation velocity.” Underlying this slowdown, he explains, is economic uncertainty.
Trend 3. Data-driven automation. According to LeClair, “Data-driven automation will be hot. Most automation tackles static processes, but data insights are changing that. One-third of enterprises will prioritize data-driven automation, with data events from [the Internet of Things (IoT)] or state changes in [machine learning (ML)] applications driving next-gen business process transformation. This recognition is sending ripples through process automation markets.” Bill Gates (@BillGates) offers a word of caution when automating processes. He notes, “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.” That’s why making sure your processes are ready for automation is essential.
Trend 4. Robotic process automation. Journalist Sayantani Sanyal reports, “RPA has recently gained dramatic popularity as it enables software bots to replicate human actions and perform tasks more effectively. The rising adoption of RPA across industries like insurance, banking, finance and healthcare has triggered enhanced operational efficiency, reduced time-to-market, and ensured high security. Hence, the usage of RPA is one of the most significant components of intelligent automation that is expected to rise in 2023.”
Trend 5. Intelligent automation. Intelligent automation naturally follows RPA because the most common description of intelligent automation is the enhancement of RPA using cognitive technologies. Another way to define hyperautomation is making processes smarter using cognitive technologies (aka artificial intelligence). Kevin Kelly (@kevin2kelly), founding Executive Editor of Wired magazine, once tweeted, “In the very near future you will cognify everything in your life that is already electrified.” Sanyal adds, “Intelligent automation, also known as cognitive automation is basically a combination of next-gen technologies like artificial intelligence, business process management, and robotic process automation. Besides these, intelligent automation also leverages technologies like analytics, machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing. Combining these technologies together has enabled intelligent automation to deliver some of the most advanced solutions that modern business leaders are using. Intelligent automation is quite different from other forms of automation, but the growing technology is making big waves and has definitely the potential to make the most significant impact on the organizations’ growth and development cycle.” At Enterra Solutions®, we refer to IA as Cognitive Process Automation™ while some other experts refer to it as intelligent process automation (IPA).
Trend 6. Autonomous Decision Science™ (ADS®). Normally I try to avoid blatant self-promotion in my articles; however, I believe Autonomous Decision Science, an area Enterra® is advancing, is the next step in the journey beyond data science. Using ADS, the machine plays the role of the data scientist or subject matter expert to help optimize a business and help it run at the speed of the marketplace. As a result, companies can make decisions that take advantage of market opportunities as quickly as possible — without requiring human intervention. This isn’t necessary, or the best course, for all decisions; however, when decision parameters are clear, ADS employs computational analysis with semantic reasoning and symbolic logic to ensure organizations can make decisions at the speed of today’s business environment.
The staff at OnPassive writes, “Many observers anticipate intelligent automation will take off throughout significant industries in the [coming] years. The adoption of intelligent automation is expected to increase further as it offers businesses a means of advancing their digital transformation and automation journeys toward becoming autonomous firms.” And, even though LeClair predicts a slowdown in automation this coming year, he concludes, “All in all, 2023 looks to be an exciting year for automation.”
 Jason Bloomberg, “Is ‘hyperautomation’ just hype? Maybe, but automation is here to stay,” siliconANGLE, 4 February 2021.
 Craig LeClair, “Predictions 2023: Economic Uncertainty Slows Some Automation Trends,” Forrester, 27 October 2022.
 Sayantani Sanyal, “Top 10 Intelligent Automation Trends to Look Out for in 2023,” Automation.com, 31 August 2022.
 Staff, “Top Intelligent Automation Companies to Lookout for in 2023,” OnPassive Blog, 6 October 2022.