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Using intelligent automation to transform the way humans and technology interact

Companies must train employees to work with machines in new ways and redesign operations to optimize for automation.

Intelligent automation is dramatically changing the way businesses operate—and the way humans collaborate with technology. It is helping organizations create new personalized products and services, improve operations, reduce costs, and elevate efficiency.

Coupled with the greater Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, intelligent machines can even learn from other connected devices to cyclically improve their actions.

The results of a recent IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study show that intelligent automation is moving toward the mainstream, and that executives are recognizing its potential to provide ongoing value. Seventy-six percent of respondents agree that increasing automation will have a positive impact on operational efficiency.

Appreciation for intelligent automation includes its convenience: over half of operations executives anticipate that natural language processing will allow human-to-device and device-to-human understanding. What’s more, many executives expect to rapidly improve their organizations’ intelligent automation capabilities—and to realize substantial business value—in the near future. In fact, 75 percent indicate intelligent machines will have a meaningful impact on their business performance within the next three years.

But realizing the value of this transformation for digital operations requires more than technology investment. Companies must train employees to work with machines in new ways and redesign operations to optimize for automation. Some industries are highly advanced in their use of intelligent automation. In other industries, adoption is more tenuous.

But staying competitive in the cognitive era demands an effective use of intelligent automation. So where should organizations start? Adopting this set of technologies requires a forward-looking approach to investment and implementation, careful organizational planning, and a commitment to training and development.

This report explores how far along organizations are in deploying intelligent automation and in developing plans and strategies for its adoption, and provides concrete recommendations for moving forward.


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Meet the authors

Grace Ho

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, Senior Partner


Karen Butner, Global Research Leader, Supply Chain, Automation, Virtual Enterprise, IBM Institute for Business Value, Consulting

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Originally published 01 December 2017