By: Imad Sarrouf, Head of Publishers at DMS ( Member Of The Choueiri Group)

Imad Sarrouf, Head of Publishers at DMS ( Member of the Choueiri Group)

We have seen on several occasions that the tech industry is obsessed with buzzwords. In post-COVID, as businesses enter the new normal era, a new buzzword, hyper-automation, is taking up centre stage.

Hyper-automation has undoubtedly opened the tech industries to new possibilities by describing AI and ML technologies to immensely increase automation where end-to-end automation can be applied to even the most complex business operations.

This has caused many experts in the industry to look upon hyper-automation as the future of digital transformation. First, it is essential to understand hyper-automation, especially when that concept has the potential to be the cornerstone for all future social streamlines and interactions with technology.

What is Hyper-Automation?

As the entire world was thrown into the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of hyper-automation was hatched, which aimed to achieve complete automation at speed.

The concept of Hyper-automation includes specific sets of tools and technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Virtual Assistants (VA), and Low-code Application Platforms (LCAP), helping organisations rapidly automate as many processes as possible.

Moreover, these tools are compatible across multiple use cases in IT and businesses. According to the data analyst firm Gartner, this change is here to stay, and by 2022, these tools are likely to see double-digit growth from $481.6 billion in 2020 to $596.6 billion in 2022.

It is important to note here that hyper-automation differs from the automation that we have become familiar with. This is because hyper-automation involves a host of different automation processes and technologies by linking them together. With the integration of ML, RPA, AI, robotics, and IoT, hyper-automation makes it possible for organisations to create a flawless string of automated tasks and/or processes that requires very little human intervention.

The challenges of unstructured data: why consider hyper-automation?

Studies show that over 90% of organisations struggle with the universal challenge of processing unstructured content or data in various media, while about 80% of the business data is unstructured. To add to the industry’s misfortune, this problem is growing exponentially, almost at the rate of 50 to 60% per year.

The source of this problem can be found at the ground level, where the decade-old promise of a ‘paperless office’ exists. This initiative has left organisations with an unfortunate inheritance of PDFs, Word docs, spreadsheets, and error-prone OCR workflows that number in millions. This has caused most organisations to drown in oceans of ‘digital’ paper, a mass of unstructured data.

To understand more clearly, let us take an ergonomic view of this problem and look at the price-per-page. This would include the software and human costs and the time spent on troubleshooting resulting in lost productivity. Now say, for instance, you have to update 1,000 legacy contracts where each of the contracts has upwards of about say 25 pages. Your price-per-page, in this case, would be the total amount of time taken by the lawyers and paralegal for processing and validating roughly 25,000 pages using any workflow technology like OCR, etc., that you have. If we assume that it takes approximately 10 minutes for an average human to detect and solve an error, you can see where the number would end and sometimes there is no OCR and the process will end up being all manual. Thus each percentage point of error that you can reduce will add thousands of dollars in savings.

If we apply the hyper-automation approach to the same problem, it will use low-code integration and RPA that brings documents from various sources into the same workflow. This allows the documents to be then classified and the data to be extracted from the most complex forms containing tables, checkboxes, and handwritten notes by AI. As this continues and the AI detects an error, hyper-automation enables the system to automatically assign the suspect data to a human for further correction and validation. Moreover, due to Machine Learning (ML) technologies, the system learns from each of these interactions and improves itself over time. This can easily allow you to assist 10x customers with greater accuracy and quality than ever before.

The challenges for implementing hyper-automation

To gain more insights into the current scenario of the hyper-automation front and its future, Silicon, an authoritative UK source for IT news, analysis, interviews, and features, interviewed some of the industry leaders and experts. As for the current situation, when poised with the challenges of implementing hyper-automation, these experts shared their views which are very important to understand for anyone wishing to explore the hyper-automation sector.

According to Chris Porter, CEO of NexBotix, a primary challenge faced by many organisations understands which business processes need to be automated and what type of automation needs to be deployed, and how much that can help the organisation. Without the right expertise, this can turn out to be quite a nightmare.

This is where organisations need to take a strategic approach starting with complete buy-in from the board level to delivering full scaling and benefits. Porter further adds that the next ideal step is to invest in a suite of hyper-automation products that can maximise the impact with the understanding that whether that business case can provide a significant return in a certain period or not.

Another industry expert and CTO of TIBCO Software, Nelson Petracek, believes that another drastic challenge for implementing hyper-automation is that many organisations cannot fully understand the data they have on deck to execute a definitive hyper-automation strategy. If automation is applied without a good understanding of this data, it would only expose the insufficient data faster.

What does the future hold for hyper-automation?

According to industry experts, hyper-automation holds a bright future for both businesses and Tech experts. On the business front, hyper-automation has opened various opportunities for improved operational efficiency, lower costs with higher margins, and faster time to market. We are already privileged that automation has brought liberty to many employees from the various repetitive, time-consuming, and somewhat routine tasks. Hyper-automation is set to take this even further.

As for the new generation of Tech experts, they are already being trained on hyper-automation technologies and tools and the related best practices. This is to ensure that the future is one of complete automation.

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