I recently went back to read an article that I bookmarked a while back on the predictions for 2020. Forget self-driving cars and flying cars; Popular Mechanics magazine predicted in 1951 that every family in the 21st century would have at least one helicopter in their garage. They also predicted in 1957 that every road and street would be “replaced by a network of pneumatic tubes,” and your car would only need enough power to get from your home to the newest tube.
Dave Evans, the chief futurist for Cisco Visual Networking, actually predicted in 2012 that he'd be out of a job by this time because, as he forecasted, everyone would be able to predict the future themselves.
Automating Everyday Tasks
I wasn’t alive when Popular Mechanics made its predictions, but I was alive for the statement by Dave Evans. What I know for sure is that while his prediction for companies to make data-informed decisions is slowly coming to fruition, we are far off from a world without futurists. What amazes me is that most automation predictions were in the form of self-driving cars rather than taking place in everyday life.
SIG University Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) Program graduate Mike Morsch has led an RPA and IA journey before. He discusses the steps a company must address to ensure a successful Intelligent Automation journey to produce the best long term and sustainable outcomes.
In the CIAP program, students gain knowledge of automation technologies, learn how to identify the correct opportunities to build, run and sustain a successful automation program, and will understand the true potential of IPA technologies when adopted correctly.
I found the CIAP certification training to be an excellent baseline for anybody looking to embark on an intelligent automation (IA) journey. Senior leaders looking to sponsor a program really need to think through how they can best start the program to ensure both leadership and associates understand the focus of the program. It is easy to get caught up in “cost savings” and getting fast and visible results to justify a program. While quick wins are always a good way to show the value of any initiative, the long term benefits available in taking a broader view will pay the most dividends on investment over time. In thinking about my own experience and the lessons learned in the CIAP program, I would suggest to anyone considering IA the following areas of focus to create the best program.
SIG University’s Certified Intelligent Automation Professional (CIAP) program is an online certification program for working professionals who seek to become more efficient and free up team resources by automating repetitive, rules-based activities. An investment in the CIAP designation will provide your team with a holistic understanding of Intelligent Process Automation technologies so they can focus on more strategic business objectives.
Outlined here is more information on the benefits of a CIAP designation, as well as a profile of who would benefit from the program.
What is Intelligent Process Automation?
Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) is an evolving set of software technologies that can be used singly or in combination to automate repetitive, rules-based routine tasks. The Intelligent Process Automation technologies are broadly categorized as:
Robotic Process Automation – Handles repeatable, routine and predictable tasks
Cognitive technologies – Have the ability to be trained to read variable inputs and determine what actions to take under different circumstances.
Workflow orchestration – Manages work between different IPA technologies, legacy systems and human workers.
Virtual agents – Use voice or text chat for direct interaction with users.
The key to true Intelligent Process Automation is how to combine the above-mentioned tools to solve end-to-end business problems.
Three major trends are reshaping the industry: a major rethinking of outsourcing vs. moving in-house, advanced handwriting recognition becoming mainstream and the increased need and reliance upon data science. This article explores these trends, as well as what they mean to enterprises and their service providers.
Rethinking the Benefits of Outsourcing
Just recently, HFS research published an article on the acceleration of insourcing operations that service providers currently provide. Why is this? One of the primary reasons is the renewed interest in automation. Also, it is the perspective that with automation, reliance upon manual labor is reduced, the outsourced version of which is still the primary business model of many service providers both large and small.
Historically, if an organization wanted to rid itself of low-value, but necessary tasks or processes, the best option was always to outsource these functions to a service provider that could provide the same capability at less cost through economies of scale. With automation, there is the promise of handing over the work to “bots” that can be deployed anywhere and whose costs are not sensitive to typical wage arbitration. A bot costs the same whether it is deployed onshore or in low-cost regions. HFS calls this “going straight to digital.”
Greg Council, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management
Here's your weekly update on the latest thought leadership, networking events and training with SIG.
This Month at SIG
If your April was full of showers (real or figurative), we hope you can seize the opportunity this month to make things bloom and reap the benefits of your hard work. Read about the important things happening at SIG in May to give you a boost.
Artificial Intelligence is the topic of many business conversations where often the fantasy is of intelligent robots doing more work with less time and resources. Not all of the promises related to AI are unfounded. Read this eBook to learn how AI’s potential can transform procurement.
When it comes to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) within a digital transformation project, the clear objective is to move all processes into a controllable, fully-automated workflow. This is achievable when processes need to use structured data. However, the most expensive and business-critical processes involve human workflows using complex, document-based information. Achieving the same levels of automation realized from structured RPA-enabled processes becomes much more challenging because the needed information isn’t always easy for a system to locate—much less successfully extract—from a document. Without a precise solution for getting access to document-based data, automation is adversely affected.
Finding the Right Solution
The answer is to approach cognitive RPA projects by understanding the level of “maturity” required with respect to the level of document automation your project requires and compare that with your peer’s experience within your industry.
This includes getting a solid foundation in what are current best practices regarding automation and understanding the various options for injecting document automation into RPA projects. Not all vendors approach a solution in the same way and not all capabilities are equal.
Greg Council, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management
Early days were characterized by excitement over the dramatic productivity and cost-saving benefits enabled by RPA. Over time, however, the limitations of rules-based bots have emerged. For one thing, basic RPA tools can’t adjust to new conditions or changes in their environment. Even the slightest deviation from the process they’re trained to follow triggers an exception that requires a human to step in, thereby sapping the solution’s productivity.
Another issue is the complexity surrounding deployment of RPA bots. While instructing a bot to perform a task is relatively easy, it does involve a level of programming expertise. Most end users of RPA are on the business side and lack the requisite technical knowledge. That means that setting up a bot requires an RPA programmer. Demand for RPA skills, meanwhile, is through the roof. (Witness the volume of urgent “we’re hiring” notices on LinkedIn pleading for people with Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism and UiPath certifications.) As a result, because the intervention of scarce technical resources is required, bottlenecks often occur when deploying a bot for a business user.
Alex Kozlov, Director of Content for Softtek US & Canada
Our world is shaped by technology. From the second we wake up until the moment our heads hit the pillow at night, we are constantly interacting with technology to manage our lives, to get us from point A to point B or to check in on our loved ones through social media. We interact with Artificial Intelligence (AI) so often that most of us don’t even realize that we’re doing it. And if you’re anything like me, it’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed by the new, flashy inventions that seem to be released daily. AI makes our lives easier, can even make a person’s life safer and in some cases, it can extend it.
I’m currently seeking my nursing degree and in my Essentials of Nursing class, it was discussed that in the US alone, 50% of all adults are living with at least one chronic disease. These illnesses not only have an impact on a person’s overall health and their independence, but it can also pose an enormous financial burden. In 2015, the total national health expenditures were $3.2 trillion and those costs are continuing to increase, especially as our population ages. Within 10 years, the population of people above 65 years of age will exceed the number of children under five for the first time in human history.
The Hackett Group, in conjunction with Symphony Ventures, recently published a whitepaper regarding Robotics Process Automation (RPA). (You may recall that Symphony Ventures conducted an excellent RPA proof of concept at the SIG 2017 Spring Summit with American Honda.) In this whitepaper, the authors provide a blueprint for selecting sourcing opportunities appropriate for RPA. Any sourcing professional worth their salt, should be considering RPA as a viable strategy after reading this statement, "Individual tasks of such processes may be fully automated with RPA, eliminating 100% of labor and up to 90% of cost. The total efficiency improvement achievable through holistic transformation using RPA across end-to-end transactional process can add up to 50% to 75% of baseline cost."
Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG
Let’s discuss accretive manufacturing. What? Haven’t heard that term yet? That’s because accretive manufacturing is just a fancier name for 3D printing. You may never hear it referred to as accretive manufacturing, but mark my words…the supply chain industry is about to be disrupted to an unrecognizable extent by it. In 2016, Honda released a single-seat “micro-commuter” vehicle with the body and majority of the panels having been 3D printed. In the meantime, Boeing expects to shave $2 to $3 million off each 787 Dreamliner's manufacturing costs by 2018, thanks in part to 3D-printed titanium. So if Boeing can now 3D print parts to an airplane and auto manufacturers are now 3D printing dashboards—and even entire vehicles—how long do you think it will be until we require almost no inventory because we can 3D print on demand any item we desire?
At home if I break a spatula, I can now 3D print a replacement. Granted, I am only printing with plastic and lack the tools to print an exact replica, but when it only takes an hour to print with specifications that are available for free online at a cost of only 15 cents (plus a little electricity)…isn’t it worth considering? Even Amazon Prime same day delivery (not available where I live) can’t beat that timeline and price.