Intelligent automation for intelligent businesses

By Paul Maguire

Signing off on an enterprise automation strategy should, on paper, be the easiest decision a CIO ever makes. What’s not to like? Automation increases speed and agility across the enterprise and improves customer experiences. However, the combination of emerging technologies, legacy systems and their siloed data, and outdated business processes is creating a perfect storm in organizations. So, deciding on a strategy for enterprise automation becomes considerably less black-and-white.

Businesses are feeling unprepared to embrace new – and disruptive – digital business models. They are finding it challenging to break free of convention and struggling to achieve the agility needed to transform. With the promise of “intelligent automation” now becoming a reality, it is essential for businesses to shake off any apprehension and set their sights on creating an environment where artificial intelligence (AI), business process management (BPM), and robotic process automation (RPA) can operate cohesively and effectively. Intelligent businesses are becoming synonymous with intelligent automation. The quicker business leaders can realise this, the better.

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In a recent Gartner study, 59% of the participating IT professionals said their IT organisation is unprepared for the digital business of the next two years. This is a huge proportion of businesses not feeling ready for the inevitable. The weight of hundreds of complex business systems, diverse product lines and legions of data silos leave organisations paralysed and overwhelmed by complexity. As a result, businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to answer customer needs, keep pace with more digitally-savvy competitors, and respond to market fluctuations.

But this doesn’t need to be the case. AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and chatbots are available technologies today that, if adopted effectively, can change the face of business for the better. As an example, consider a common claims management process in the automotive insurance industry. As it stands, customers have to call their insurer to report an accident, then a claims adjuster schedules an appointment to assess the car’s damage. Once the damage has been assessed, the claim is processed. It’s a long-winded and expensive process for the insurer and of huge inconvenience to the customer. What if the insurer replaces this with a mobile application that the customer could use to take and submit photos of the damage? What if the picture could be analysed instantly to assess the damage and issue an instant claim through cognitive cloud services and sophisticated decision tree algorithms? This isn’t a pipe dream. This is a reality for intelligent businesses leveraging modern technology for the good of their organisation and for their customers.

Unfortunately, a typical IT team within an organisation can’t code fast enough and roll out game-changing applications just like that! It requires integration with existing systems, access to secured data, management of people and their interactions, and building intuitive user interfaces for different computers and devices that enable employees and customers to collaborate. This is where the concept of low-code development comes into play. For businesses with hundreds of disparate IT systems, ranging from resource planning to customer relationship management, building a new application or embracing automation can be hugely daunting. Traditionally, programmers would have had to manually code and create applications, map out data relationships and build all the required integration. However, by combining BPM, AI, and RPA in a low-code development platform, organisations can deliver transformational applications faster than ever before without integration headaches. A BPM engine can orchestrate everything: all the human activities, when the robots get dispatched to access legacy systems for simple and repetitive actions, and when the process call out to cognitive services to deliver back intelligence gleaned from massive data sets. Together, these technologies provide the foundation for intelligent automation and business transformation.

As an example, Aviva, the UK’s leading insurer, uses intelligent automation to accelerate customer responsiveness. Using Appian, Aviva consolidated many different underlying systems into a single intuitive interface. The benefits Aviva has seen include:

  • Consolidation of the front- and back-office teams into a single customer service team
  • 9x acceleration of customer service response time
  • 40% reduction in service costs
  • Consolidation of 22 underlying business systems

In this case, the solution provides a 360-degree view of the customer to the service team, enabling them to provide better service and to centrally manage all customer requests. This is intelligent automation in action.

More than simply a powerful technology tool, an enterprise platform integrating BPM, AI, and RPA software delivers many business benefits. However, each of these technologies can be complex to deploy. When coupled with low-code development, these advanced technologies become significantly faster and easier to implement.

Despite businesses feeling unprepared for new, digital models, they must navigate a course towards digital transformation or risk losing out. Building the right apps – quickly – can accelerate and streamline processes, reinvent customer experiences and reposition a business amongst its competitors. It now remains to be seen which intelligent businesses embrace intelligent automation. It’s the easiest decision they’ll ever make.

Paul Maguire, Vice President, Europe, Appian


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