|How much can companies save by using automation? Nearly half (43 percent) of business and IT executives responding to the Accenture Technology Vision 2016 survey achieved cost savings of greater than 15 percent from intelligent process automation in the past two years. However, cost cutting is only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to implementing automation technology. The real value of intelligent automation comes from upgrading business processes while emphasizing people first. By taking over simple and repetitive tasks, intelligent automation allows people to focus on jobs that require uniquely human characteristics. And this opens up a whole new range of business possibilities.
So the better questions to ask about automation are: What are the biggest challenges that your organization, employees and stakeholders are facing? How can automation technology help improve business processes to address them? Other than costs savings, what extra value does the intelligence in your enterprise’s automation tools provide, such as insights or scalability?
Automation everywhere but still disconnected
Intelligent automation is enabling digital businesses to do more…and do it faster than ever before. Our survey shows that 85 percent of business and IT executives are already using automation innovation to improve their business processes. We are seeing enterprises embed intelligent automation into software development, data preparation, content generation, architecture creation and quality testing. Queue Software Inc., for example, provides Dropsource, an application development platform that automates all the programming required to build mobile applications. Worksoft automates the functional testing of mission-critical processes from end-to-end across complex application landscapes.
As pointed out in the Intelligent Automation trend in the Accenture Technology Vision 2016, automation can propel digital businesses across a threshold—moving from doing things differently to doing different things. For example, from using robotics in the airplane manufacturing process to 3D printing composite airplane wings in one piece. Or from collecting data on employee performance to using predictive analytics to make HR decisions about hiring, job placement and promotions.
These are exciting advancements using a range of robotics and artificial intelligence technologies. But let’s face it. Artificial intelligence is a complex and advanced realm of scientific research. It is exceedingly difficult to make AI systems work well, let alone do so on a consistent basis to drive business value.
We’re currently seeing intelligent automation appear in “pieces” across different industries, depending on which AI technology is applied, as well as the complexity of the use case. As shown in Figure 1, Slyce is helping consumers use computer vision technology to search images. Airbnb is using an intelligent pricing algorithm to dynamically adjust rental property costs based on supply and demand. DHL is leveraging smart vehicle technology to communicate with other trucks in the fleet in order to optimize delivery routes. In each case, intelligent automation is changing what can be done. Each has a strong business case and is an achievement in AI automation in its own right.
Figure 1: Companies in various industries are applying intelligent automation to do different things.However, what I find exhilarating is thinking about what will happen when leading digital enterprises—and the brilliant people working in them—figure out how to connect all of these intelligent automation pieces into one continuous circle. The outcome could reshape the entire online commerce industry. This is just one example of why Accenture believes enterprises should take a systematic approach to deploy artificial intelligence at scale and a holistic approach to digital transformation of their processes, rather than a piecemeal one.
The ability to do something fundamentally different using automation innovation at every stage of the buying cycle is opening the door to bigger possibilities. The result could be an interlinked and highly intelligent system that enables a more personalized, safer shopping experience than we’ve ever had before. What it will take is leading enterprises making the connections between the pieces—linking automated product and service reviews, real-time recommendations, fraud detection powered by machine learning, highly efficient pick and pack systems, smart logistics and autonomous vehicles—into the next generation of online commerce.
Retail is just one of many industry examples in play. Similar AI automation scenarios are beginning to percolate in healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, financial services and more. Which leading digital enterprises step up to make the connections is yet to be seen.
How will Intelligent Automation change your business processes, your people and even your industry paradigm?
To learn more about this year’s Accenture Technology Vision, I invite you to read the chapter highlights, check out a range of informative at-a-glance visuals, view our videos and slideshares, and keep checking this blog for more discussion of these trends.