Intelligent automation deals with the incorporation of advanced technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to improve how this technology automates processes. This extension of features arises from the challenge of how to automate processes that require human knowledge. The solution is intelligent automation.
For an example, in Banking, intelligent automation can take part in automating the loan process. We can use Machine Learning to analyse a loan proposed by customer, and make recommendation if the loan is approved or declined. In manufacturing, we can use Machine Learning to automate the machine maintenance report by detecting areas that are defective. In Insurance, Machine Learning can be used to make recommendation of best insurance product for a certain customer based on their profile.
We can deduce that there are many areas we can implement intelligent automation. Intelligent automation provides more accurate automation, as it simulates human intelligence in the process.
Why Intelligent Automation?
Based on Gartner, Intelligent automation is number 1 strategic technology trend for 2020. This will stay relevant and surpass the traditional rule-based Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
This technology offers a lot of benefits to companies who implement it, and some companies who already initiated its implementation have gained results, such as:
- Reduced operational costs
- Ability to allocate and upskill employees for value-added tasks that are more strategic
- Created smart working environment for employees
- Increased and improved productivity
- Enhanced business efficiency
- Ability to getting high volumes of tasks done in hours
- Improved competitive advantages
- Better customer engagement
- And more.
Challenges in Implementing Intelligent Automation
Implementing intelligent automation will not be possibly without challenges. It is crucial for companies, who look into implementing this technology, to study these challenges and learn how to address the solutions to these challenges.
Some of the most common challenges are:
1. Wrong vendor
Selecting vendor is very important at the beginning of the implementation process. Companies need to evaluate the vendor based on their capability and technology features that will determine the goal of automation. It is highly crucial to ensure that the certain vendor is able to provide automation technology that can help companies to achieve their automation objectives. For example, if a company wants to focus to automate their bulk document processing, they have to make sure that the vendor has a good credibility for their intelligent document processing and OCR features.
Deciding the right vendor might be frustrating and take longer time than expected. However, this commonly happens in beginning the automation project. Companies can avoid the situation by conducting in-depth research of their targeted vendors. Companies can also prepare list of assessment or criteria for the vendors to fulfil it, as this will make the discovery process faster and easier.
2. Wrong type of projects selected
Before you start with project evaluation, you would need to have a high-level understanding of how your project will affect your company’s overall-directions or strategies.
To get started with intelligent automation, you will start with evaluating which processes improvement will give your company the best value. You must understand the objectives of your business in the short-term and long-term strategy of your company. All process improvement shall be driven or guided by business directions.
For example, for a bank, are you keen to speed up loan approvals? Why? Perhaps the recent survey of customers indicated that faster approvals equated to more business. Maybe you have found out that you have lost 20% of prospective customers because these customers have taken up your competitor’s loan packages which gave faster approval.
After all these analyses, you are more convinced that you are working on improving the process for the right product or service. Why do you want to have good processes? Good processes will lower costs, allow for better customer service and create a conducive working environment that can make employees happier.
Although intelligent automation can potentially automate many processes, it is better to streamline the desired processes first. This is because automating an inefficient process just makes the inefficiencies become faster, and you will still get the same inefficient output.
3. Process mapping is not clear
Before any intelligent automation is put in place, it is recommended for companies to do process mapping then process reengineering, to streamline first. To know which process to streamline, companies will need to have a good understanding and overview of the company’s processes first.
Process mapping is about identifying and understanding all the steps and decision taken in the process, document these steps with detailed explanation. Process mapping involves questions such as:
- Can this certain process be automated?
- Does the process have the high volume?
- Does it involve structured digital data? Does it need to access multiple I.T. applications?
- Does it require human intervention?
- Does it follow pre-defined rules that do not change frequently?
- Does it need minimal exception handling?
An unclear process mapping will become a challenge in implementing intelligent automation. Thus, it is important for companies to pay attention to detail, on the process that they want to automate.
4. Wrong expectation
An unclear process mapping will lead to unclear and wrong expectation. Most companies expect that they will gain instant result as soon as they have deployed intelligent automation project. In reality, it takes time for the automation project to be successfully deployed, especially when there are certain adaptations needed. Intelligent automation offers transformation in business processes – yes, but it does not come in flick of fingers.
Companies also expect that all the processes are fit for automation. This is why there is a need to do thorough process evaluation and mapping. Intelligent automation cannot deal with all processes.
A wrong expectation can result in fail automation. This is why selected vendor must align their method of work with the company’s objectives.
5. Lack of motivation from users
Another challenge in implementing intelligent automation is employee resistance to change. Despite the benefits that the technology brings, the human factor is also important to consider. Implementing intelligent automation means there will be changes in processes, which will result in another shift in employee roles, as this transformation will affect their ways of working.
Intelligent automation will automate and streamline business processes – yes, it is true. But it does not mean that it won’t be needing human intervention at all. Human still need to supervise; they have to work along with the robot to achieve the objectives. However, fear and haunted with the misconceptions about artificial intelligence and intelligent automation, employees might hesitate to deal and work with this new technology. Not to mention the lack of readiness of their IT skillset and knowledge, which also will be another challenge to face. This happens as it is impossible to assign someone who does not understand the basic of how intelligent automation works, to supervise how it works in automating certain process.
In conclusion, some companies might be not willing to allocate resources such as human, time, and cost to implement or adopt intelligent automation These allocations are the main reason why some of companies think that they do not need IA.
However, it is to better to make sacrifices in the beginning to have greater things after. Adopting and starting IA to do projects will take time, but eventually companies can quickly benefit from it. Ignoring to implement IA will put companies at the cost of losing competitive advantages.
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Written by: Kezia Nadira