Tim Hood is Vice President – EMEA and APAC of Hyland, discusses the concept of hyperautomation and how it can elevate the workplace from monotonous, to purposeful and engaging. Hood explores the critical factors to consider when developing your hyperautomation strategy.
First there was automation, now there is hyperautomation. From the age of industrialisation, to a hyperconnected, technology-driven world, the nature of work has evolved. Technology today is a dynamic, evolving organism and within that universe hyperautomation is compelling us to revisit some fundamental questions about processes, systems and tools that have enabled us to work more efficiently. However, will automation give people the joy of deriving more value from the work they do?
Consequences and challenges in the post-pandemic workplace
As businesses navigate turbulence, ‘The Great Resignation’ – the lockdown-induced reshaping of careers, expectations and values – continues to exacerbate the hiring challenge and employers are forced to question and rethink talent recruitment and retention. The next couple of months – widely recognised as the ‘peak hiring season’ – are shaping up to be like no other, with employers bracing themselves for unprecedented wage pressures and staff turnover.
One unexpected consequence of the pandemic is that it has become a catalyst for Digital Transformation. Businesses have seized the opportunity to automate a wide range of time-consuming, repetitive tasks, giving people more time to focus on higher priority initiatives.
In human resources, for example, the recording and administration of working times and absences, payroll accounting, including the deduction of taxes, is time-consuming and monotonous. With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), performance management, learning and development and other recurring tasks have led to greater efficiencies and eliminated some of the tedium of work and created more productive workplaces.
While automation can provide optimal outcomes, effective implementation requires a thorough understanding of how individual tools coalesce and interact with each other. It’s a particular challenge, as traditional automation technologies are largely front-loaded, which means you have to understand the process and context, as well as investing the time to map out the process.
Recognising new opportunities in the workplace
Business process automation and RPA have continued to yield results that are high on accuracy and low on time consumption and have increased overall efficiencies, but there is an urgent need to recognise the opportunities that come with workplace change. Enter the age of hyperautomation.
According to Gartner, hyperautomation is ‘a business-driven, disciplined approach to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many business and IT processes as possible, involving the orchestrated use of multiple technologies, tools or platforms’.
Fundamentally, it’s a combination of tools and technologies, which when applied together allows the entire end-to-end workflow to be automated. When used together, they can be a force multiplier.
So how do businesses work within this defined framework and what does it mean for workers and the nature of the workplace of the future?
The key to building successful businesses that are more than future-ready is to understand how to create value in the work we do. Hyperautomation can facilitate robotisation of processes, create efficient organisations of the future, help optimise systems through the power of real-time data assimilation, analysis and simulations using Machine Learning (ML) and engineer better employee experiences. Simply put; hyperautomation can elevate the workplace from monotonous, to purposeful and engaging.
Companies looking to increase retention could do well by analysing internal processes. When combined with Artificial Intelligence and ML, departments can not only achieve efficiency by automating tasks, but also drive structure around previously unstructured content. From the initial hiring process and beyond, hyperautomation can be a catalyst for enhancing the recruitment experience and, importantly, enabling employees to think more strategically and focus on higher-value work. In the longer term, these are key elements in the improving retention.
However, the challenge remains significant. A recent survey by ABBY, a digital intelligence company, revealed that, ‘six in 10 (61%) employees say their job is made more difficult through trouble accessing data in documents, and nearly a quarter (24%) lose a full day of productivity per week searching documents for information they need, to serve customers’.
The question that begs to be asked is, how and where do you start with hyperautomation? Start with extensive mapping and analysis of processes across the organisation – such as back-office operations – which are time-consuming and repetitive. Once done, derive insights that feed your digitalisation and automation strategy that are aligned to your organisation’s overarching business objectives. Then go shopping for expert solution providers who understand your specific requirements and can execute and implement your strategy.
One critical factor when you develop your hyperautomation strategy is to involve employees during the planning and transformation rollout. Open communication is a demonstration of your intent and will give employees assurance of how their workflow is going to change for the better and result in greater engagement in the workplace. In fact, the ABBY report found that ‘31% agreed AI skills would help them be more responsive to customers and 41% said AI skills would free up time for more creative tasks, thereby keeping them motivated’.
A more resilient and happier workplace
One unassailable truth is that automation is here to stay. Technology tools and automation of work in the last several decades have not only helped to improve the quality of work, but increased efficiencies as evidenced by measurable data. AI- and ML-programmed robots can perform repetitive tasks consistently, efficiently and more accurately than humans. AI-powered tools have uncovered actionable insights from data, allowing companies to become better at what they do.
As the nature of work evolves, people’s expectations of what they want from their employers and their work also evolves. When hyperautomation is integrated into existing processes, humans can focus on tasks that require the ‘human touch’ and attention, unlock their creative potential and improve collaboration, and increase customer lifetime value.
To build a more resilient workplace that is engaging, purposeful, profitable and happier requires a deep understanding of the underlying challenges and the ability to envision a future where technology and humans coexist meaningfully. After all, technology and people have always complemented each other and hyperautomation is just one step closer in that direction.Click below to share this article