If there’s one thing 2020 has taught business leaders, it’s the importance of building resilient businesses that can weather storms and stand strong. However, doing so in the current climate is not a clear or easy feat. Some of the immediate business challenges we’ve identified include business continuity risks, sudden fluctuations in demand, security risks, and changes to decision-making and workforce productivity.

To meet these challenges, we need innovative solutions, and automation is top of mind. According to Forrester, not only can automation assist in our immediate needs, such as cost-cutting efforts in this time of financial uncertainty, but it can also build business resilience and mitigate risk. 

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Automation is not a new technology. Many companies are already employing a degree of automation within existing business processes such as in their billing and payment systems, data cleaning, and customer service portals to name a few. With Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software spending expected to reach $2.4 billion by 2022, it is one very common method of automation that is already being used across industries.

This quick and easily deployable solution has come in handy when addressing the immediate needs and demands that arose at the start of the pandemic. However, we anticipate a strong need for more intelligent and comprehensive automation solutions that offer consistent value addition in the long term as we transition to our new reality.

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We anticipate a strong need for more intelligent and comprehensive automation solutions that offer you consistent value addition in the long term as we transition to our new reality.

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We all crave stability in times of uncertainty, and having dependable, data-driven, intelligent automation strategies and solutions in place could help businesses and organizations accelerate recovery and adapt in the most resilient and sustainable manner. But before we dive into this topic, let’s cover some basics. What is intelligent automation? What are some of the traditional automation benefits we’ve seen? And how has the current crisis impacted this?

What you need to know about automation

Broadly speaking, automation refers to using automated technology processes and tools to complete a task or a set of tasks with little or no human intervention. Even though people often think of robots when they think of automation, most automatic processes are carried out by software alone.

Conversely, the term ‘robotics’ refers to the design, build, and use of physical robotic machines that can be used to automate certain processes. This is not to be confused with RPA, which uses metaphorical robots, or software—often referred to as ‘digital workers’—to automate and carry out process flows more efficiently and seamlessly.

Intelligent automation takes these features one step further by combining traditional automation methods with advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. It involves taking a machine or software that was taught to do simple repetitive tasks (traditional automation) and teaching it to intuitively adapt or correct its performance based on changing conditions, at speed and scale. These intelligent technologies apply natural language processing, data mining, and pattern recognition—to name a few—to closely mimic human intelligence.

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What is intelligent automation?

Intelligent Automation is an automation solution enhanced with cognitive capabilities that enable programs to learn, interpret, and respond. See more.

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How can intelligent automation help us navigate this crisis?

The COVID-19 crisis has exposed blind spots and made us rethink how we’ve organized our businesses. These three benefits of intelligent automation will help you navigate the crisis and prepare for a stronger future.

1. Improved business resilience

You might already be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of automation when implemented under ‘normal’ circumstances. However, these benefits are more pronounced in the current climate. If you use a comprehensive automation strategy, you can not only navigate the current crisis but also better prepare for unexpected disruptions in the future.

Right now, businesses have had to shift to a largely remote workforce. As such, having strong automation strategies in place can facilitate critical business operations that would otherwise not have been possible under social-distancing restrictions.

Consider the following examples:

  • To protect vital health workers and patients, hospitals in Korea and Sri Lanka are now using robots to measure patient temperatures, as well as distribute hand sanitizer, food, and medicine.
  • In the logistics industry, robots keep warehouse workers and delivery personnel at a safe distance while facilitating uninterrupted services.
  • Adapt to market changes and maintain business-critical processes within supply chain operations by using proactive monitoring. Here, automation and AI can be used to monitor real-time data to predict and quickly respond to potential business-critical conditions.

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myWizard AiOPs for supply chain technology operations at Coles Supermarkets

Most of the automation at Australian retailer Coles Supermarkets is powered by Accenture using the myWizard AiOPs suite of applications. The myWizard AiOPs Batch Application was extended to offer a reconciliation and discrepancy reporting dashboard for Coles to monitor sales data across critical systems.

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To survive the pandemic’s economic fallout, many companies have become more fiscally conservative. Automation investments are a tried and tested strategy to lower costs, leading to improved resilience. For example, we've seen a 10 percent increase in resource capacity and a 35 percent operational cost reduction in our own automation journey.

2. More efficient operations

Improved efficiency and rapid time to value have always been promising features of automation, but they are even more important now that businesses are struggling to restart their operations and regain momentum after the pandemic’s devastating hit.

Even a common automation solution, such as a successful RPA implementation, has the ability to generate a 40 to 80 percent reduction in processing costs and an 80 percent reduction in processing time. As such, applying even the simplest of automation capabilities can assist companies in their recovery phase.

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A40TO80%

reduction in processing costs, and

AN80%

reduction in processing time can already be achieved with a common automation solution.  [Source: Accenture.]

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Conversely, we’re using a combination of analytics, AI, machine learning, and automation to help a medical technology company maximize the availability of medical equipment for use during the current pandemic. We do this by optimizing its spare parts supply chain, and with that, show the important role automation solutions can play to improve the efficiency of vital operations.

3. Goodbye boredom

The pandemic has given rise to important questions about fulfillment at work and how traditional work can be reimagined. Automation can take over monotonous and repetitive tasks that would otherwise be completed by humans. It allows your human workforce to focus on more complex and creative activities as well as contribute to more fulfilling tasks, such as problem-solving and innovating.

Even though intelligent and traditional automation could render some more monotonous job roles redundant, we don’t see automation as a blanket threat to humans when looking into the future. In most instances, especially in knowledge industries, we anticipate that it will augment human work, freeing up capacity to focus on more high touch, rewarding, and stimulating tasks.

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Intelligent automation creates an opportunity for humans to skill themselves in interesting and stimulating tasks while leaving boring and repetitive ones to their digital colleagues.

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How can I get started?

Now you know the benefits of automation and how it can ease the business impact of COVID-19. But identifying how best to apply automation and implement a comprehensive automation strategy can still be daunting.

The solution? Our Accenture myWizard® intelligent automation platform, created with the purpose of simplifying and hyper-driving your end-to-end automation journey, can come to the rescue here. The integrated platform creates, implements, and measures enterprise-wide automation strategies to reimagine information technology (IT) systems for better efficiency and performance. This is built on our intelligent automation core approach of simple, seamless, scalable, and sustainable.

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Accenture myWizard®: What can it do for you?

As previously mentioned, companies have already embedded many automation solutions into their business processes. However, this is often done in a highly decentralized manner leading to automation in silos.

To achieve the truly transformative power of automation, you'll need to create a holistic strategy that includes technology, process, and people. myWizard structures the intelligent automation journey across the software development life cycle by benchmarking automation maturity, identifying automation opportunities, building a business-aligned roadmap, managing change, and continuously measuring the ROI and value delivered.

Essentially, myWizard jumpstarts automation to build resilience and deliver business value at the start. Then, through a culture of continuous innovation, it helps to grow value and sustain automation as you scale.

From automating ticket resolution to automating DevOps, myWizard can do it all at speed and scale. The expanded platform offers capabilities for modern software quality engineering, technology operations, and enterprise automation journey management—all underpinned by a broad suite of technology assets infused by artificial intelligence (AI).

Designed to bring speed, efficiency, resiliency, and predictability to IT operations and service delivery, its plug-and-play architecture is platform-agnostic to seamlessly connect to your technology ecosystem. And though we are continually innovating and adding new capabilities, myWizard can adapt and evolve your automation with the changing technology landscape.

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myWizard® in action

myWizard drives predictive and business-aligned modern operations and modern engineering automation journey for IT with AI at the core to maximize efficiency, cost optimization, and automation-fueled value while minimizing business disruption.

Our Accenture myWizard® platform has already helped some of Accenture’s 9,000 myWizard engagements at 1,500 companies to improve user experiences by more than 50 percent, reduce IT operational costs by up to 60 percent, and get new products and services to market up to eight times more quickly.

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The global pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our lives, and it may continue to do so. However, intelligent automation can assist you in overcoming your current challenges and building a more sustainable and resilient future.

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What’s next?

The global pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our lives, and it may continue to do so. However, intelligent automation can assist you in overcoming your current challenges and building a more sustainable and resilient future. And a strong top-down and bottom-up commitment in adopting organization-wide intelligent automation strategies can significantly help you achieve just that.  

Curious to learn more? Reach out to our intelligent automation team by contacting Roy Kuijpers, Navo Wickramanayake, or Claudia Frank.

Roy Kuijpers

Intelligent Analytics Focus Area Lead – Accenture Technology, Europe


Navo Wickramanayake

Business & Integration Architect Analyst – Accenture Technology


Claudia Frank

Application Development Analyst – Acenture Technology

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