Hyperautomation! It’s one of Gartner’s top technology trends for 2022. Gartner defines it as a business-driven, disciplined approach that organisations use to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many businesses and IT processes as possible. It involves the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools or platforms — including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA), business process management (BPM), packaged software, and other types of decision, task and process automation tools.

At first glance it appears a collection of all the emerging technologies and digital transformation buzzwords you’ve heard. In essence, it’s about turning manual or partially automated tasks into systematic, rules-based processes.

With markets demanding accelerated growth and healthier bottomlines, business leaders are, in turn, seeking faster outcomes at lower costs, without compromising quality, agility or cycle times. Instead of a siloed approach to automation, dealing with AI, ML, RPA, BPM, etc. separately, and at different times, hyperautomation (HA) blends various automation initiatives, minimising what could slip through the cracks. According to Fabrizio Biscotti, research VP at Gartner, HA has shifted from an option to a condition for survival!

The process involves understanding an organisation’s value stream, identifying key tasks and processes, and figuring automation targets. Granular scrutiny of the components of the value stream will then show up areas of sub-optimality, leading to contemplating alternatives for the slow or error-prone parts.

An illustrative use-case. Let’s look more closely at an example we’re all somewhat familiar with or have encountered — insurance claims. As opposed to the insurer receiving a notice-of-loss by mail, the policy holder enters details on a customer portal. Automation ensures claim creation and assignment, even settlement of simple claims without human intervention. As part of the claims system, it extracts and enters claim details. If details are missing, it will ask the policy holder for it and follow up too. It will then recommend next actions to the claims manager, and if the decision appears non-standard, the system will prompt a supervisor’s approval. Alongside, regulatory filings are also completed using data obtained.

There will be a noticeable contraction in cycle times and costs, an increase in speed, accuracy, quality of decisions and customer satisfaction. And that’s what delivers competitive advantage.

The use of low-code process platforms that don’t require complex programming to build applications, and the increasing ubiquity of cloud infrastructure have accelerated the desire to transform businesses. Composability, which is about software design built around reusable components, which allows more complex functionality within low code, further enhances agility. The increasing availability of components that developers can add to their applications cuts the time to deployment. The trend away from monolithic environments is unambiguous.

Platform features. Let’s look at some of the tools that combine to create HA capability. Robotic process automation defines repetitive steps that a bot can perform to automate tasks. Intelligent business process management technologies extend beyond task automation, manage end-to-end processes, eliminate redundancy and enable continuous improvement. Data management organises and manages master and transactional data, allowing data merging, transformation, aggregation and mining. Event processing helps construct event driven visualisation, databases and middleware, processing streaming data from various media for predictive, prescriptive and other purposes. Multichannel apps allow low code/no-code development, leveraging drag and drop capabilities for building applications. Artificial intelligence/machine learning platforms create continuous learning models to enhance the effectiveness and responsiveness of applications. And connectors enable high speed connectivity with disparate systems and services, on-prem and on-cloud, to deliver the best value.

Hyperautomation vs automation. The promise of HA is that you don’t have to invest in multiple, separate automation platforms, reducing cost and complexity substantially. This eliminates the need to recruit expensive hires with niche skills. Fewer hand-offs reduce overall throughput time, which becomes glaringly obvious when you scale. With its centralised nature, and end-to-end data coherence across the value chain, the quality of decisions and predictions vastly improves. Importantly, the business becomes audit-ready at any time.

Industry impact. HA can, of course, change the business dynamics in most industries. Let’s discuss three.

In retail, with e-commerce going mainstream, HA can automate orders, payments and fulfilment, including sourcing, inventory, warehousing and transportation. AI can sharpen the study of buyer behaviors to strengthen loyalty programs. In healthcare, nurse bots are beginning to talk to patients at the front-end; automation in gathering billing details across departments improves billing accuracy and check-outs, and deals very effectively with insurance submissions and claims. In BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), HA finds compelling use in customer documentation, client servicing, lending and payment operations, back-office work and regulatory reporting. Sales, marketing and distribution operations can be automated too. And advanced analytics helps fraud detection.

Additional information from sensors, wearables and social media can enrich customer interactions provided there are no privacy violations.

Inadequate progress? Despite overwhelming potential benefits, adoption success, ROI and risk perceptions are lagging at this juncture. Most believe that’s because the human angle hasn’t been understood fully nor given due importance in this tectonic transformation journey. The fear of skill inadequacy may be genuine, but is addressable for the most part. The dominant thinking that jobs will be displaced has completely overshadowed the possibility of creating many new jobs, and underwhelmed the reality of eliminating repetitive tedium. The people angle must be addressed first — after all, hyperautomation seeks, in a sense, to digitally recreate the entire organisation.

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