Robotics and Process Automation (RPA) saw first light in the late 1950s, with the early development of machine learning by Arthur Samuel in 1959. In its nascent stage, RPA was a standalone concept of virtual workforce with specific application areas and pre-defined capabilities (for example, ‘rules-based-automation’).

However, ‘rules-based-automation’ capabilities were necessary but not sufficient to satisfy the rapidly evolving requirements of the real and complex world we live in. The last few years have seen the emergence and convergence of many powerful technologies related to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and intelligent and cognitive automation.

The strategic confluence of these technologies is also known and defined as hyperautomation. Named by leading research publications among the Top 10 strategic trends for 2020, hyperautomation leverages new and combined capabilities to expand the frontiers of automation beyond the ‘rules-based-automation’ and creates newer and better outcomes (for example, simpler processes, higher productivity and reliability, ‘less stress’ work environment, and more agile and flexible organisations).

Hyperautomation helps organisations accelerate their digital transformation journey and lays down a strong foundation for spawning key innovations of the future; hyperautomation, if done well, can help organisations achieve the holy grail of ‘doing more with less’.

Reimagine automation, work

Based on a report published by Deloitte in 2019, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and intelligent automation are amongst the top ten Industry 4.0 technologies that may have the most profound impact on major organisations globally.

Some of its fundamental concepts are briefed below:

Artificial intelligence : AI enables organisations to become Insight Driven Organisations (IDO), which relies on the fundamental building blocks of people, process, data and technology being in place and informed by an analytics strategy.

Advanced analytics : The power of data is in its interpretation. Organisations that are able to leverage the full power of data and analytics will create unique and sustainable competitive advantage in their marketplace.

Intelligent automation: Intelligent automation relates to leveraging a suite of tools and technologies (that emulate and enhance human actions and capabilities) to create higher-than-normal value for the key stakeholders (including shareholders, customers, employees and community).

Information management: A business-driven approach to designing and implementing next generation solutions and processes that supports businesses globally to better manage, protect, share and innovate with their data.

Hyperautomation is no more about mimicking rule-based tasks as performed with Robotic Process Automation. Conventional automation, or RPA, was a foundation stone that has made way for users to explore the broader meaning and greater abilities of automation. It’s about seamless interoperability of utilities and industry application.

One of the key differentiators of hyperautomation is its ability to loop humans into the process. With collaborative intelligence, technology and humans work not just side by side but together, employees can begin to train automation tools and other software, and through machine learning, get to a state of AI-enabled decision-making. With hyperautomation, companies can begin to reimagine work typically done by employees with technology.

Some of the celebrated potentials of hyperautomation include:

Workforce enablement: Harnessed with the power of hyperautomation solutions, employees are able to automate the many processes within their role, and get more done, faster, with the resources available to them. Minimising manual tasks enables them to focus on more impactful work, like planning and strategy.

Employee upskilling: With automation no longer reliant solely on IT skills, a business user has the potential to become an automation thinker, influencer and leader (leading to a more hyper-skilled employee base that can achieve better outcomes than before).

Systems integration: With hyperautomation, a company’s clunky on premise technology and disparate data systems can communicate seamlessly with the power of integrations.

Digital agility: With many automation technologies working closely together, a company can move past the one-off benefits of a single technology to a state of true digital agility and flexibility at scale.

Roots to shoots

Hyperautomation is relatively new while the notion of intelligent automation has been around for a while now. With its phenomenal growth and adoption, its growth and market insights are impressive and promising. As per Coherent Market Insights, the global hyperautomation market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 18.9 per cent during 2020-27 with extensive digitalisation of traditional manufacturing plants being the primary contributor to the numbers.

As per the survey conducted by Deloitte, executives estimate intelligent automation will provide an average cost reduction of 22 per cent and an increase in revenue of 11 per cent over the next three years. However, those organisations scaling intelligent automation say they have already achieved a 27 per cent reduction in costs on average from their implementations.

Hyperautomation has the potential to change the way we work and live. Problems that earlier could only be solved with human intelligence can be potentially solved in future by digital twins. Based on trends seen thus far, it seems that capabilities of intelligent automation technologies will grow significantly in the years to come.

This, in turn, may lead to many new innovations resulting in higher value creation for companies, countries and communities. More significantly, hyperautomation may enable humans to dig deeper within themselves and discover their hidden capabilities and help them become more human.

Agrawal is Partner, Dutta is Director, and Gupta is Associate Director, Deloitte India