This is not your grandfather’s automation

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Automation isn’t new. But it’s changing. And what it’s changing into is going to alter your world.

When automation was first introduced to IT departments, it was in the form of macros and code snippet generators that were intended to save valuable developer time. But developers love what they do, and what they do is write code. They didn’t want to part with the work they considered fun.

Then, in a subsequent effort to optimize the application development cycle, automated tools were created to help simplify the testing process. But all too often, a complicated set-up procedure prompted IT professionals to declare these time-saving tools to be far too labor intensive.

Since then, robotic process automation (RPA) for IT has made significant strides. Applications are being programmed automatically, and automated tools can now find and fix coding errors without human intervention. The result is efficient self-healing, lights-out applications.

This frees employees to work at a higher level to solve the unstructured complex problems that best utilize their talents in the ways they most enjoy.

Enter the Age of Cognitive Computing

HfS recently conducted a thorough review of intelligent automation (IA).1 What their research indicated is that the next big step forward is being driven by new cognitive capabilities. The Age of Cognitive Computing has paved the way for an Era of Innovation in which job requirements such as ability to perform may be replaced by imagination to perceive. No longer needed for mundane, repetitious functions, humans may abandon the role of doer and adopt the role of creator. Innovation and passion may become key corporate attributes as personnel are assigned critical creative roles essential to the relentless forward momentum of change.

Many organizations have already implemented cognitive automation in their IT departments. Cognitive automation actually learns, understands and then applies that understanding to the automated completion of IT tasks without intervention by the development team. When a decision needs to be made, it is the system that determines the various courses of action, considers all possible outcomes, makes a determination, and sets into play the most effective course of action. Amazingly, all this is accomplished in a fraction of a second.

Get ready for the future

Sophisticated cognitive technology has enabled organizations to shift focus from task automation toward IA, combining the technical capabilities of RPA, autonomics and cognitive computing tool sets to provide unprecedented scale and reach.

While all of the new technologies are being rapidly adopted, adoption is currently on a tactical project-by-project basis without strategic oversight. To achieve optimal benefits, organizations now need to view automation as a strategic enterprise-wide initiative — beyond IT and back office functions. It’s time for executives to develop their strategy for automation across the organization, with an enterprise POV. Otherwise they’re heading toward potential chaos, with silos of redundant technology and a myriad of different standards.

The long-term implications of cognitive automation are not yet fully understood. But the short-term benefits to your organization are obvious: more human intellectual power will be available for your staff to imagine, innovate and implement visionary ideas to differentiate and drive your success. Isn’t that precisely what you need during this tumultuous time of digital disruption?

Your next move

Now that that the foundation for automation has been established, it’s time to elevate the conversation at the strategic level.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss how cognitive automation can enhance your workplace, please give us a call or leave a comment below. We’d be happy to schedule a meeting with you to hear your thoughts on the topic and share some of our own predictions for the future.

1 Tom Reuner, HfS Blueprint Report Intelligent Automation 2016, HfS Research Ltd., October 2016.

Vice President, Globally Integrated Capabilities, Global Business Services

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