To address Year Three of the pandemic head on, enterprises will embrace an ‘automation fabric’ to fuel extreme innovation.

Looking to 2022 and the years ahead, I believe intelligent automation (IA) will be core to business processes, especially as AI and machine learning capabilities become synonymous with automation platforms. 

Digital workers—autonomous software robots that learn and carry out business processes like humans—are redefining what can be achieved at scale by taking over the laborious activities that presently occupy so much of human workers’ time. Organizations will discover that the strategic use of digital workers enables them to successfully operationalize AI initiatives, transforming theoretical research projects into real-world, corporate success stories.

With smarter IA, digital workers will soon be able to self-heal, whereby they automatically adapt to changing environments and applications, which increases their ability to identify errors and nuances in the systems that they work in.

Symbiosis of humans and machines

For IA to drive business growth and attain optimal productivity levels, both human and digital workforces must forge a symbiotic relationship.

The human workforce should see digital workers as an enabler for positive change, while the digital workforce should be made to integrate seamlessly with human workers.

While there are limited instances of IA being applied at scale in the Asia Pacific region, organizations are nevertheless taking a more strategic view of automation as a future driver of transformation. In time to come, organizations will strive to adopt IA tools to align with business needs and not just serve as a temporary fix.

In the region, data has indicated that Singapore businesses are most likely to adopt business technology tools. Their government also recently introduced an Investment Allowance scheme to help organizations manage implementation costs.

Meanwhile, Forrester predicts that 5% of Fortune 500 companies will adopt the automation fabric. The latter is a framework to build, orchestrate, and govern a hybrid workforce of human and digital workers to fuel extreme innovation in the new year. There is a compelling narrative to Forrester’s prediction insofar as their belief that “companies with an advanced automation program will obliterate—not merely beat—the competition”.

Aligning IA with business goals

IA is more than a simple, three-step process of planning, implementing and executing. It should be accompanied by a comprehensive approach that encompasses priorities, rationalization and future opportunities.

While automation quickly delivers value once implemented, an overall directive that aligns it with business goals is still important to ensure that it gets maximized in the long run.

In this ever-evolving technology sphere, businesses that more-effectively identify opportunities for IA will stand a better chance at realizing their business goals in a shorter amount of time.