The world is changing at an accelerating pace, and with 2019 almost in the rearview mirror, our strategy team takes a step back and tries to peer into the future. We explore the trends taking shape in the intelligent automation (IA) market and look for macro patterns that could give us a hint as to what’s to come in the year ahead.
Now we won’t get everything right, but we do try to hold ourselves accountable. Kofax Chief Strategy Officer Chris Huff set a high bar for the 2019 predictions, with an approximate 70% accuracy rate— take a look back.
Here are our top 10 predictions that will impact the intelligent automation market over the next 12 months:
1. RPA will mature into intelligent automation:
As highlighted in the recent Gartner Critical Capabilities Report for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and the HfS RPA manifesto, as customers continue to mature their RPA initiatives in 2020, they will require complementary integrated technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), process orchestration, capture, optical character recognition (OCR) and advanced analytics to achieve greater business value. While this trend technically started in 2019, RPA as a standalone offering will officially retire in 2020, and the market will move on to integrated intelligent automation. The reason is simple: all the easy tasks will have been automated.
2. Embedded, fit-for-purpose AI will rise to prominence:
There are two well-known truths in the artificial intelligence and machine learning industry today—one, there are huge business benefits for organizations that can successfully deploy AI and ML. And two, there is a massive shortage of AI talent. According to a study by Tencent Research Institute, there are just 300,000 “AI researchers and practitioners” worldwide, but the “market demand” is for millions. Organizations in 2020 will seek out AI-powered intelligent automation platforms that embed AI/ML, reducing complexity, time to value, and the associated skills burden. Embedded AI offerings also provide the complementary capabilities to accomplish business objectives and will enable organizations to deploy AI against more defined end-to-end use cases.
3. IA customers will mature from creating operational efficiencies to creating new value:
Operational efficiencies will continue to provide significant value to organizations adopting intelligent automation, but IA also generates new value in other ways. A large North American logistics company, for example, built over 2000 bots, saving over $75 million a year in operational efficiencies, but also created a bot that generated $15 million in revenue annually. More organizations in 2020 will focus on new value creation leveraging intelligent automation.
4.The purpose economy will continue to take hold:
Fear around automation is rising, so organizations need to communicate with purpose. In 2020, leaders need to paint a vision of work that is appealing to employees. According to HBR, 90% of people would swap a percentage of their lifetime earnings to have more meaningful work. In the Nordics, for example, organizations have seen significant success in their intelligent automation endeavors by framing their automation initiatives around freeing up employees to focus on innovation, reducing stress and creating a more balanced work/family environment. It must be working; according to the World Economic Forum, the Nordic countries have some happy people!
Purpose is an internal and external tool. Internally, it builds trust so employees can make that shift and paints a vision of a better shared future. Externally, consumers are more connected than ever and demand exceptional experiences from brands: they want a relationship. According to consumer data, 79% of respondents said they’re more loyal to purpose brands. More companies in 2020 will lead their intelligent automation efforts with purpose.
5. Global recession accelerates intelligent automation adoption:
With several leading and lagging market indicators flashing red and many respected financial analysts predicting 2020 will usher in another recession, innovative leaders will look to intelligent automation to reduce operating costs and remain competitive during a down market.
6. Greater focus on digital workforce management:
As intelligent automation continues to mature, more enterprises will look for digital workforce management offerings that bring together several product vendors to manage, govern, measure, monitor, scale and orchestrate work between the human and digital workforce. Forrester predicts “80% of enterprises will recognize the threat of automation islands and determine that they’re no longer sustainable.” 2020 will be the year of DWM solutions that form the connective tissue for full-scale digital transformation across the enterprise based on a multivendor environment. DWM offerings will support customers seeking to realize more value from their existing investments.
7. Intelligent automation moves from the back office to the front office:
Historically, RPA and intelligent automation have seen significant success in the back and middle office. But according to a recent Forbes survey, one in three respondents cited an improving customer experience as an expected outcome from end-to-end automation. As we approach a new decade, industry leaders have aspirations to automate end-to-end operations, and we will see more adoption of IA to create more frictionless experiences in the end-to-end customer journey.
8. The adaptability quotient (AQ) will become a new corporate focus:
For years, corporations assigned worth using the intelligent quotient (IQ) measurement. More recently, companies have been putting worth in emotional intelligence (EQ), especially for corporate leadership. With 75 million jobs displaced and 133 million new jobs being created by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum, the adaptability quotient will gain traction as a measurement for how adaptable an employee is to change.
In 2020, organizations will ramp up their intelligent automation efforts. This will include leveraging the digital workforce to free up employees for more creative work and a greater focus on reskilling. Organizations will prioritize adaptability in both their staff and the platforms that support their business in responding to market opportunities.
9. The rise of intelligent process orchestration:
Early business process management (BPM) efforts centered predominately around productivity, cost efficiencies and process transparency. 2020 will accelerate emerging trends around modern orchestration priorities, though. Organizations will leverage orchestration as the intelligent fabric to connect the front, middle and back office to remove silos. Savvy leaders will continue to prioritize enhancing the customer experience and infusing the enterprise with AI in 2020. They will continue to pair orchestration with cognitive capture to unlock the value of unstructured data and enrich the management capabilities for coordinating work between the human and digital workforce.
10. RPA will continue to adopt more human senses:
Robots on their own are dumb, but when infused with AI they become more intelligent and can handle more complex work. For example, today we have vision-enabled bots that can leverage AI to identify, extract and parse unstructured data (video, invoices, documents, pictures, etc.). When infused with AI, these bots can also see patterns and identify issues more accurately than humans.
We have AI-powered bots that can simulate hearing and speaking in conversational experiences, as well as bots that can leverage IoT (Internet of Things) to simulate touch and detect odors in the air. We even have bots now that can leverage natural language processing (NLP), entity extraction and sentiment analysis to scan through large amounts of data to identify key elements. Forrester predicts that 25% of the Fortune 500 will add AI building blocks (e.g., text analytics and machine learning) to their RPA efforts to create hundreds of new Intelligent process automation (IPA) use cases. In 2020, leading RPA and IA vendors will continue to add intelligence to their digital workforce.
What ideas do you think will emerge in the year ahead? Contact us today and share your thoughts!