This time of year can be overwhelming for those managing digital transformation within their enterprise. Just as you’re trying to catch up with the new technologies everyone else in your industry is using, you start to hear reports of the new technologies still to come—the new technological carrot you need to chase to stay competitive in the coming year. When it comes to automation predictions, there are plenty, but don’t let it intimidate you. Automation is one area of digital transformation that promises—when implemented well—to take a load off your shoulders, rather than adding to your daily to-do list.
So, what should you be thinking about as we head into 2020? Which automation predictions should you take seriously, and which should you ignore? That depends largely on where you are in digital transformation, and the specific business goals of your company. The following are the top trends I’m tracking heading into the new decade.
- Hyperautomation. Chances are good your company has already started robotic process automation in some department—hopefully even on an enterprise-wide scale. If so, you already know, establishing effective RPA isn’t easy. It takes a thoughtful and forward-thinking strategy—the same type of strategy you’ll need to carry into the next level of automation—hyperautomation. Yes, it’s a buzzword. All it means is the process of using many different machine learning, software and automation tools together to manage a full range of work. Hyperautomation can allow you to go from descriptive analytics, for instance, to prescriptive analytics—allowing AI to make decisions and prescribe changes without human involvement. Stay tuned in 2020 as we follow the journeys of early adopters moving in the hyperautomation direction.
- Regrouping. Futurum Research’s 2018 Digital Transformation Index found that 29 percent of companies don’t feel prepared when it comes to automation. What’s more, Mean-Time-to-Resolution (MTTR) is actually increasing, as companies move past automating “the easy stuff” and move into more complex processes. Some companies are creating automation “strike teams” to get to the root of the problem. As automation predictions go, it may be time to regroup, restrategize, re-organize, and recommit to the process of automation in a scalable way. It could even help to turn to someone outside your organization like a service provider for advice.
- Job transformation (rather than job displacement). Research shows that even though automation will displace specific jobs in 2020, it will create help more than 330,000 net jobs overall. Indeed, the thing that will most likely change is the content and quality of the jobs people are doing—not necessarily eliminating their jobs, but changing it into something different altogether. For some, this may mean less job satisfaction. For others—it may mean more. Right now, it’s hard to tell. At the end of the day, however, we won’t see mass unemployment due to automation in 2020.
- Autonomous things. It’s about time. When it comes to automation predictions, we’ve been talking about autonomous robots, drones, cars, ships, etc., for a while now, and I think we’ll see larger scale pilots of these things heading into 2020. We won’t necessarily see widespread rollout, but I’d say it’s not long—possibly within the next five years—before a large-scale push for autonomous things hits the marketplace.
One thing I want to stress is that as automation increases, the need for human touch doesn’t decrease—quite the contrary. We’ll need humans to guide automation development, ensuring that it “makes sense” from a user perspective. We’ll also see an increased focus on hiring humans with human skills—empathy, communication, creativity—because those are jobs that AI simply cannot do.
Do you need to rush out and jump on implementing hyperautomation or autonomous thing development or any other automation predictions for your enterprise? Of course not. This is where the distinctly human quality of common sense comes in. As with any new tech advancement in digital transformation, focus only on those that will enhance you ability to meaningfully support your customers and increase efficiencies within your organization.
The original version of this article was first published on Future of Work.
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