Build an Intelligent Roadmap to Intelligent Automation

How to Cut Through the Noise and Map your Intelligent Automation Journey.

If you’re reading the blog post, you’ve probably read stories about how intelligent automation has revolutionized a company’s way of doing business. Or if you’re online, you may be amazed at how sophisticated websites automate processes to make your experience better and prompt you to buy more stuff. So, business leaders are naturally asking the question, “Can these processes be applied to my business?”

The answer, of course, is yes. But the quest for leaders to dig deeper for insight on the practical considerations of using AI-assisted automation has been frustrating for many, mostly because there seems to be more marketing hype than usable direction. For example, if you’re trying to sort out the differences between “intelligent automation” and “hyperautomation,” and decide which is better for you, you’re likely to get confused. That’s because both terms mean the same thing.

So to keep it simple, let’s just call it intelligent automation, and define it as the application of the various branches of AI—such as machine learning or deep learning—to reduce reliance on humans, reduce errors and get faster results by combining data and content with AI-assisted tools. Generally, the goal is to reduce the number of human touch points so that people can focus on other tasks. That is, let the machine do the grunt work faster and more accurately, and put people in the loop where they add the most value.

Explained another way, you can look at automation on three levels: data automation such as old-school transaction processing, content automation such as robotic process automation, and intelligent automation that draws on AI components such as machine learning. The first two forms of automation have been around for a while, whereas intelligent automation is just getting started as a tool to streamline processes.

Focus on What Matters – Business Outcomes

If you’re thinking about embarking on a journey to automating business processes for efficiency, productivity, a better user experience, or another business goal, the first step is to ignore the industry buzzwords and begin to focus on what matters: how automation can improve profitability or attain another business goal. Because, in essence, intelligent automation isn’t revolutionizing anything. Companies use it in revolutionary ways to meet specific needs.

The first step is to focus on what matters for your organization, for example, a modernized customer experience on your e-commerce website, faster delivery with fewer errors and returns, reduced manufacturing cycle times, increased productivity, or lower costs. Whatever the business need is for your organization, that’s the place to start looking for opportunities to intelligently automate.

Two things are certain:

  1. You have specific business goals that require your organization to grow technologically to keep pace or leapfrog the competition. You already know what these are.
  2. You have processes that are ripe for automation. You just haven’t identified them yet.

The trick is to find processes, or steps of processes, where technology can do the same thing faster and more accurately, and preserve processes and steps where people add value. That is, get technology to do the error-prone manual grunt work and use people in areas where it makes the most sense or where they’re truly needed. This is a huge productivity gain that can lead to better outcomes that affect your business goals.

Don’t Get Sidetracked by Technology

Investigating and working on an intelligent automation solution takes time, and nobody wants to spend a lot of time working with no results. Sometimes, companies opt to do small projects as a way to experiment. There’s always someone in an organization that’s playing with new technology, but usually in a way that doesn’t address specific business needs. Don’t mistake learning the tool as progress. From a business value perspective, these are dead-end efforts whether they’re successful or not.

Build an Intelligent Automation Roadmap

Intelligent automation is a journey best taken one step at a time. By starting with an Intelligent Automation roadmap that drives maximum value, you’ll find the low-hanging fruit you’re looking for—the foundational areas that you can build on to create real business value that didn’t exist before. With your business goals in mind, you can devise a plan to turn low-hanging fruit into a quick win that can be scaled out at the enterprise level and get the impact you’re looking for.

Tools to Navigate the Journey to Intelligent Automation

The biggest obstacle to successful intelligent automation is getting started in a way that will push the organization towards achieving business value. To get you started, VersaFile has developed tools to orient your thinking around the business processes that are ripe for intelligent automation.

Intelligent Automation Maturity Model

To help contextualize where your company is on its technological evolution, VersaFile created the Intelligent Automation Maturity Model, which describes five levels of maturity as it relates to intelligent automation. This tool can give you a more tangible sense about how the direction of your technology strategy supports intelligent automation, broken down by maturity of processes, technologies, data governance, executive buy-in and employee readiness for change.

7 Pillars of Intelligent Automation

To help you make decisions about automation based on business processes, VersaFile’s 7 Pillars of Intelligent Automation breaks down the common elements of most processes and notes the steps where machine learning can be used to automate manual work.

14 Dimensions for Technology Consideration

VersaFile’s 14 Dimensions for Technology Consideration will help you evaluate an intelligent automation solution based on criteria such as flexibility, cost, scalability, interoperability, and alignment with business needs and installed architecture.

By leveraging these tools as a starting point, you’ll be in a good position to craft a roadmap to success.

Flexible, Portable, Scalable Intelligent Automation

While choosing the right process to intelligently automate is a big first step, you’ll also need to select the right tool to enable the automation. Piecing together a solution with disparate, disconnected technologies can introduce unnecessary complexity, slow down your transformation efforts and add cost.

Look for solutions that will integrate easily and reliably into your existing environment and are flexible enough to change as your technology strategy evolves. While many companies are moving to the cloud, the move is gradual in most cases. Tools that work seamlessly on-premises and in the cloud will simplify your intelligent automation journey. If you’re in the cloud, look for solutions that give you flexibility to change as your cloud strategy changes. So if you change cloud providers, you don’t need to re-engineer a new solution. 

To meet these portability needs, IBM has introduced Cloud Paks that work in any cloud and on-premises, including the IBM Cloud Pak for Business Automation, IBM’s intelligent automation solution. By giving companies deployment options, IBM can help future-proof your intelligent automation solution and maximize your development efforts as your automation journey unfolds.

To dig deeper into the best ways to start the intelligent automation journey, check out our no-cost Automation First workshop and get access to VersaFile’s Center of Excellence and tools.