The age of Intelligent Automation (IA), defined as artificial intelligence combined with process automation technology, is becoming increasingly realistic as new advances to devices and software become commonplace in our professional and personal lives. This quickly approaching era will see the use of robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence and advanced analytics technologies to automate dozens of business processes—and has enormous potential to positively impact the workplace and how businesses operate.
Unfortunately, despite understanding the exciting potential IA holds, most companies who jump onto the bandwagon will fail in their attempts to transform their business with IA.
It turns out that today, most businesses are unsure of where to start with artificial intelligence technologies but even if they were, their organizational culture, business processes and talent constructs are set up to be in direct opposition to a digital operating model where automation occupies a central component of work, that for decades, was done by humans.
On the other hand, there are indeed many examples of startups and disruptive companies who demonstrate the nature of digital operations and are bringing innovative new business models and operating models to industries to serve as a blueprint for change.
According to KPMG’s new Ready, Set, Fail study, investments in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and RPA is expected to reach $232 billion by 2025. However, most companies have not implemented any of these technologies yet, or are only in the initial stages of planning their deployment strategies—creating a disconnect between expectations and execution driven by the lack of a clear plan for implementation and workforce transformation.
As IA investments come to fruition over the next several years, the workplace we know today will completely evolve, requiring a new understanding of how businesses operate and how employees interact both with each other and with machines. According to the same KPMG report, nearly two-thirds of executives claim there is currently a lack of in-house talent equipped to manage IA efforts and half struggle to define clear objectives regarding these technologies. There is also a lack of commitment from senior level management and uncertainty over how current employees will be affected by the change. All in all, it seems that many companies don’t have a clear vision when it comes to IA, and as a result, may be left stumbling in the dark.
When strategically applied, the value of IA technologies impacts every aspect of how a business and its people work. For example, it can help improve customer service, lower costs of operations, improve productivity, safety, quality, tap new markets, and drive an unprecedented level of visibility and insights. Furthermore, the data that points to that artificial intelligence leading to massive unemployment is selectively shortsighted and misleading. Robots and AI might be able to process and analyze data more efficiently than humans, but they cannot replace the oversight needed to program, oversee, and manage such technologies. They cannot determine the questions that need to be asked or creatively prioritize and solve human problems. Additionally, it fails to discuss the wave of innovation that will follow the access to AI via the cloud, very similar to the innovations that followed the access to electricity via the grid.
Business leaders should be empowered to take charge and provide clear goals for IA initiatives in order to realize these vast expectations. In order to do so, they need to start with a strategic approach that lays the foundation for scalable deployment of AI, RPA and analytics, rather than sporadic and siloed projects. Furthermore, they must imagine the workplace beyond today’s walls and create programs that upgrade skill levels and develop technically adept employees prepared for a workforce where humans and robots work side by side.
Finally, business leaders must understand that incorporating IA into a company’s business model and operations is not an overnight job. Significant time, planning, and investment is required—but the rewards are eminent: early implementation of IA can yield five to ten times dividends. Companies that start adapting now are poised to succeed in a rapidly changing and constantly evolving marketplace.
Some companies are ready for this digital disruption. Most are not. Make sure yours is.