What is hyperautomation?
Technology—and perhaps especially artificial intelligence technology—is always full of media and marketing buzzwords that hype new concepts and inventions, re-brand old ones, or are used to stoke public interest in specific products. Some of these buzzwords fall out of use because the technology they describe becomes obsolete or because they aren’t truly useful as descriptors. Examples are the use of the word “robot” to refer to almost any AI, or “big data,” a phrase that is increasingly being replaced by more accurate terms like “data science” and “data analytics.”
However, some new terminologies stick around because the technology they describe comes into mainstream use, becoming part of our daily lives or part of crucial business processes we all rely on, whether we are aware of them or not. “Hyperautomation” might be one term that will stay in use throughout 2021 and beyond.
Why? Because hyperautomation is already here, even if we don’t yet label it that way. Hyperautomation is not a specific technology or a brand-new invention: it is a way of connecting existing technologies to increase their automation potential and expand the application of artificial intelligence solutions into more parts of all businesses. These connections and expansions are becoming more common as businesses make progress in their digital transformations and look for new ways to incorporate automation and AI into their processes.
Hyperautomation typically begins with RPA, or robotic process automation, which is a form of workflow automation used to reduce the barrier to further automation by replacing the use of back-end scripting languages with direct automated actions. Artificial intelligence is then used to build on RPA and expand automation into more advanced parts of the business, speeding processes up and even replacing the work of subject matter experts and knowledge workers. Automation technologies combine to not only speed processes, but also improve business insights, increase ROI, and automate pretty much any process end-to-end. Hyperautomation can incorporate RPA, business intelligence, business process management, AI, machine learning, and more.
How It Can Help
Of course, any mention of replacing human efforts with artificial intelligence and automation solutions generates concern. But like all types of AI, hyperautomation does not necessarily replace employees: it often merely speeds up their work and allows them to devote more time to more complex and challenging tasks. We covered one excellent example of this relationship between AI and humans in our post about how artificial intelligence can improve on business intelligence products: rather than eliminating employees who work in BI, operations, or merchandising, AI helps them reach crucial conclusions faster and allows them to make smarter decisions. They’re able to focus on improving sales and optimizing inventory rather than on interpreting reports by jumping straight to the most critical insights from those reports.
What makes hyperautomation different from most “products and services” is that almost all of its benefits are identical to the benefits of automation as we already know it. The difference between automation and hyperautomation is the level of integration, and therefore the scale of a business’ overall automation. Hyperautomation connects various automated systems with each other, and so the biggest and most unique benefit is the ability to speed up even extremely complex tasks and processes that involve multiple business units, departments, and processes that were not previously automatically linked.
Rather than taking a specific solution and applying it to a standard business, hyperautomation looks at a business that has already begun its digital transformation and finds the spots where automation integration could be most helpful. The end goal is for every employee and every business unit to be engaged in some sort of automation, so that even the most complicated tasks end up improved by automation technologies. This way, hyperautomation can improve speed, consistency, accuracy, and efficiency for any aspect of any business, and for the business overall. Speed, consistency, accuracy, and efficiency are probably the benefits that were already achieved, albeit on a smaller scale, when basic automations were first introduced.
There are some more subtle benefits of hyperautomation, too. One of these is flexibility. Because hyperautomation connects multiple automated technologies, businesses can be more flexible in how they operate because they do not need to rely on a single automation solution. Shifts can be made according to resource availability, and technologies might be reallocated over time into the processes where they offer maximum benefits. Hyperautomation can offer more opportunities for optimization than applying a single standard solution.
Another benefit lies in integration. Linking multiple automation technologies allows for better speed, accuracy, and consistency, but it also makes businesses more seamless and more scalable. Even legacy technologies can be integrated into hyperautomated processes, which can give more stakeholders access to more information and offer better transparency. IT and other digital departments can become more aligned with the greater business, and the overall impacts of digital transformation efforts can become more measurable because they reach more units and departments skilled in calculating ROI.
Hyperautomation is likely to become the new standard for automation. As more businesses adopt and become skilled at working with basic AI automation solutions, they will be ready for this next stage in their digital transformations.