Automation Anywhere has published an Automation Now and Next 2023 report, the State of Intelligent Automation. The report is based on a survey by Foundry of over 1,000 business leaders from across the world and different industries.
53% of the respondents work in IT, Networking or Security. The report Is 34 pages long, but the main content after a four-page executive summary is 20 pages long.
The report looks at the trends and influences in the intelligent automation market. It examines how organisations leverage generative AI to increase productivity, drive innovation, and find new growth opportunities. It also looks at how organisations leverage citizen development initiatives to scale automation today and in the future.
The executive summary highlights 3 key findings:
- 88% of respondents say AI is key to successful automation
- There has been a 17% budget increase in intelligent automation year over year
- 95% of enterprises encourage citizen development
The report is divided into five main sections. The first four contain an easily consumable mix of analysis, data points from the survey and other third-party research and quotes from industry leaders, though these are mainly anonymised.
Each section covers what is happening now, what it believes is happening next, and the key trends around each subject.
The authors believe that intelligent automation is here and will expand its footprint in the future. The three trends they call out were:
- Intelligent automation investments continue to increase
- Security and privacy issues are a top roadblock
- Purpose-built AI solutions can alleviate challenges
Barriers to adoption remain as well, though with data challenges (39%), regulatory and ethical concerns (39%) and uncertainty around ROI (39%), the top three. The last of these is the most interesting, but there is no analysis or additional comment around it within the report.
Intelligent Automation and AI have many terms, and while 72% of firms are investing in AI and ML, the rise of generative AI (45%) has seen it outpace the popularity of IoT investments.
Automation improves productivity, and AI can help accelerate automation. For example, 68% of respondents see virtual assistants as an AI use case. Key trends from this section included:
- Due to the growing productivity crisis, improved productivity is the primary driver of automation efforts
- Generative AI is a key area of investment to tackle productivity challenges
- Automation powered by generative AI will drive enterprise-wide productivity gains
The survey examined the KPIs organisations use to measure their intelligent automation investment. The answers were varied and perhaps linked back to the uncertainty around ROI. There seems to be little consensus about how to quantify the success of automation. The KPIs used were:
- Productivity – 76%
- Quality -73%
- Customer Satisfaction – 69%
- Cost – 69%
- ROI – 68%
- Employee satisfaction 59%
This section also contains an a typical quote from the Chief Information Security Officer from a large US based bank, “Automation is necessary to remain competitive—it increases
efficiency by multiples and allows you to scale.”
While productivity improvements are important, they are only sustainable if they are scalable. Automations should not merely automate tasks. They should help deliver automation for strategic business objectives. This means that moving forward, intelligent automation should be more than just automating a given task; it should be aligned with strategy.
85% of respondents say that automation initiatives must be developed with business objectives in mind. Automation must evolve to deliver automations that touch multiple functions and organisations.
Key trends the survey highlighted in this section are:
- Business users who understand business objectives are essential to automation scalability
- AI and virtual assistants will solve top citizen development challenges
- IT is the biggest supporter of citizen development efforts development efforts
Citizen developers can help with this, the authors believe. Though one might argue in the days of generative AI and no-code platforms, are they developers or creators? If the future is one where a user merely asks for a system to create an automation of a known task, and the AI has the intelligence to deliver that automation, what development tasks are left?
This brief section highlights some successes of intelligent automation amongst Automation Anywhere customers. Six examples are given, but the authors did not include links to case studies providing more information.
- Humana saved 684,000 hours, customer story.
- Grant Thornton saw 85% reduced financial processing times, Video.
- TATA Sky cut 10,000 hours from back office processes, Case study.
- The NHS processed 10,000 invoices end-to-end, Whitepaper.
- Bancolombia saved 127,000 hours, case study.
- Cargill saved $19 million over 5 years, case study
Predictions for automation success in 2024
This section offers nine predictions for the year ahead, more specific than the trends mentioned earlier in the report. The report closed with some tips for the reader on how to approach transformation. They include tips across three categories.
- Build your automation program.
- Scale across teams
- Transform the enterprise
Enterprise Times: What does this mean?
The report is well written and has interesting findings that many readers should notice. There is little surprise in the report, but it is well put together and has some useful takeouts.
Like many reports, a qualitative element might have brought out more insights. However, while long, the report maintains a cadence of data points, information and analysis that makes it worth reading.
“Productivity is foundational to economic growth and the world’s next level of evolution. Intelligent automation, including AI and generative AI, are proving crucial to solving the massive productivity crisis unfolding in front of us,” said Ankur Kothari, Co-Founder, Chief Customer & Strategy Officer, Automation Anywhere. “The 2023 Now and Next report echoes our long-held belief that intelligent automation is the only true solution to the current workforce challenges facing organizations around the globe.”
How far generative AI can take intelligent automation is still to be discovered. There is some caution still about ethics and trust. Is the data it relies on 100% accurate? History is normally written by those who won the wars, viewpoints can slant the view of AI similarly, and it is difficult to remove bias when the available facts are not the whole truth. Seeing how intelligent automation evolves over the coming months and years will be interesting.