Hyperautomation: what’s it all about?

06 April 2021

Guy Kirkwood offers some insight into hyperautomation technologies and explains how it might offer benefits for the industrial sector.

Hyperautomation is the application and combination of advanced technologies to deliver end-to-end automation and digital transformation within an organisation. It allows businesses to automate every process and task that is automatable. This is no small task: for example, according to McKinsey, in the US alone, there are 2.6 trillion hours of work per year that is automatable.

The starting point is robotic process automation (RPA), which mimics human behaviours to automate process-led and repetitive tasks. Hyperautomation expands RPA’s capabilities with the addition of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), process mining and other advanced tools. 

By bringing these tools and technologies together, hyperautomation can be used to enhance the productivity of workers and automate virtually any repetitive task that they carry out – including the more complex and long-running ones that previously required exception processing and human intervention. 

In the years to come, hyperautomation will continue to combine new tools and technologies, improve the working lives of an increasing number of employees, and accelerate the automation of the next generation of business processes. It’s going to reshape what we understand to be ‘work’ as we know it. 

There can be no doubt that the age of hyperautomation has arrived. In fact, Gartner has named it a top strategic technology trend of 2021. Its upwards trend has only just begun. 

Hyperautomation technologies can be employed to maintain control over their back-office and operational processes. However, it goes much further than this. It can also support the core functions of an industrial process. For example, one of Schneider Electric’s industrial sites creates electrical switchboards for residential, commercial and industrial premises. When its manufacturing specifications are received, they are printed, along with the labels required to identify electrical circuits and circuit breakers. Preparing these documents for staff, who are responsible for installing electrical switchboards at client premises, is tedious. Schneider created an automation to open and print the documents, allowing staff to focus on other more rewarding work. 

If this type of automation was scaled across the entire enterprise to support many more functions, with the addition of AI, it could be characterised as hyperautomation. 

As with any change, there will be challenges to the adoption of hyperautomation. Perhaps the most obvious one is ensuring employees are on-board to ensure there is no resistance to change. Without employee buy-in, hyperautomation projects may struggle to meet their full potential because hyperautomation means that digitisation will no longer be controlled by specialised IT departments, but rather a co-production between IT experts and non-technical users. By its nature, if an organisation plans to automate everything that can be automated, it means all staff need to be able to use it. And for that, you need acceptance. 

Another challenge is ensuring truly holistic approach. It can be easy to fall into the trap of deploying robots in isolation, focusing on one specific task rather than an entire process or workflow. Such tactical use of RPA creates siloes and limits overall benefits. 

Getting employee buy-in is all about education. Investing in a technology is one thing but experience tells us, that without skilled resources, technology does not thrive. Thankfully, gaining access to automation skills is open to everyone. ?

We encourage firms to provide free RPA training to as many employees as possible. For example, our clients have run hackathons, provided employees with access to experts and on many occasions have encouraged employees to develop their own automation skills through the UiPath Academy. 

This not only allows for a smoother rollout of automation but enables employees to share personal insight into processes, providing a more holistic view of what areas will benefit from automation.

To fully realise hyperautomation and avoid creating tactical, siloed automations, businesses need an automation first mindset, which encourages users to imagine a future where software robots are always part of the solution and part of an integrated workforce of humans and automations. Businesses also, therefore, need a complete end-to-end software solution that can bring that thinking to life. 

Guy Kirkwood is chief evangelist at UiPath.

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