What is hyperautomation?
The term hyperautomation describes a strategy more than a specific technology. The driving force behind it is the idea that business processes work better when they are automated. Automated business processes are faster and more accurate, plus they lend themselves to better tracking and analysis. Essentially, hyperautomation refers to the use of smart technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), low-code/no-code (LCNC) platforms, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning to identify and automate as many processes as possible – as quickly as possible.
According to the latest research from Gartner, organisations are “…transitioning from a loosely coupled set of automation technologies to a more-connected automation strategy”. This leads to the kind of streamlined business operations that today’s best companies need to make them more profitable and competitive.
Process automation vs. hyperautomation
Process automation describes the digitalised automation of process steps and workflows. It could refer to just one process such as onboarding, for example. Hyperautomation, on the other hand, automates multiple processes at the same time. This helps companies unify different operational areas and speeds up automation across the business – which equals hyperautomation.
Hyperautomation: Examples in action
Business processes come in all different shapes and sizes and while the underlying strategies are the same, each area of any business will have different hyperautomation approaches and needs.
- Certain departmental processes only address the needs of a relatively small user group of specialists – performing essential, but often very niche tasks. Traditionally, these processes would not deliver enough ROI to warrant significant investment in their automation. However, low-code/no-code (LCNC) technologies are changing the game for hyperautomation strategies. LCNC means that subject specialists in those niche areas – who are not themselves able to do coding or programming – can nonetheless envision and implement automation processes to meet their unique needs.
- Departmental and line-of-business activities like finance, procurement, or human resources often use core business applications to manage tasks and processes. However, there are manual or semi-automated steps or tasks that either precede, accompany, or follow transactions in these systems/applications. Hyperautomation seeks to fully automate slow, manual processes. For example, you could automate the process of purchase requisition approval, which would then speed up and automate the creation of purchase orders. In addition, you could start identifying, extracting, and compiling essential information from emails or documents to improve and increase the automation rate going forward.
- Cross-departmental or cross-line-of-business process orchestration connects business processes that span two or more business applications or systems. Core processes typically consist of high-volume tasks that deliver value to customers, are critical for the creation of products or services, and ensure the efficient operation of the organisation. Such processes are prime candidates for hyperautomation. Examples that apply to most organisations include:
- Customer journey – It’s no question that customer demands are becoming more complex every day. Hyperautomation strategies help businesses identify and automate the best-suited areas of customer experience. This includes personalised, omnichannel shopping experiences, seamless fulfilment, and the automation of feedback and input to support R&D and continuous product and service improvement.
- Payables, receivables, invoices, and payroll – We are seeing a rise in gig workers, remote employees, and more complex vendor and supply chain networks. Hyperautomation initiatives seek to quickly identify, synchronise, and simplify all spend categories and processes – making them more consistent and secure.
- End-to-end supply chain – End-to-end supply chain management relies on real-time visibility and connectivity. Hyperautomation strategies and tools can help to optimise and automate industrial IoT and supply chain processes from materials sourcing to product design and planning, manufacturing, and logistics.
- Recruit to retire – More than ever, recruitment is competitive and businesses are under pressure to hire, onboard, and train talent as quickly as possible. Hyperautomation seeks to identify and unify HR processes and integrate them with other interdependent departments. This automation leads to the ability to predictively target employment needs, and to customise processes and workflows for any eventuality.
And hyperautomation doesn’t stop at the boundaries of individual organisations. Business networks that digitally connect suppliers, logistics and services providers, asset operators, maintenance contractors, and more boost business resilience in an increasingly volatile world.
Hyperautomation benefits and challenges
Some of the core benefits of hyperautomation include:
Efficiency: Automation reduces error-prone, manual tasks and processes. By speeding up cycle times and improving their first-time-right rate, businesses add value to their operations and improve productivity and profitability.
Agility: Businesses do not become less complex over time. The ability to define, digitalise, and document processes at speed, means that your company has the agility to pivot and quickly grasp and automate new processes and necessary tasks.
Innovation: Competing today means being able to develop innovative new business models, products, and services – and having the right technologies in place to do this quickly and effectively.
Compliance: Automation produces real-time data trails of digital processes. This makes for easier monitoring and the ability to ensure that compliance and regulatory measures are in place – protecting both your teams and your business from risk and loss.
As for the challenges to hyperautomation initiatives, many business processes are deeply ingrained in corporate cultures and are passed down from one employee to the next. It can sometimes be hard for team members to look objectively at old processes that are second nature and seem to serve them well. Furthermore, some employees fear that automation technologies will be challenging to learn or – at worst – impact their positions. The fact is, nothing can replace the creativity and ingenuity of the people in your workforce. A good way to work through these challenges is to develop good change management strategies and communication plans that reassure teams and make it clear how error-prone, repetitive tasks can be alleviated, and a more fulfilling work environment can be realised.
Another area of concern is that many companies simply don’t feel that their legacy systems or data management tools are sufficient to support hyperautomation. And in fact, that’s probably true. Process automation can start very simply, with just a few basic tools and technologies. But for the desired speed and scope of hyperautomation to be realised, your business needs to be committed and invested in digital transformation. And this realisation seems to be bearing out with global enterprise investment in hyperautomation and RPA technologies predicted to rise seven-fold by 2025.
Finally, with interest in automation at an all-time high, a further challenge is the confusing patchwork of solutions that are currently on offer. Today, many businesses are realising that they cannot achieve their hyperautomation goals by continually bolting on a selection of disconnected, single-purpose automation and integration tools. Modern companies are now looking for a single technology platform with the power and scalability to unify all their business systems and processes. They need a connected, cloud-based solution that can power and guide a strategic approach to increasing their rate of automation, while simultaneously delivering on ROI metrics.
Putting the "hyper" in hyperautomation
Again, the point of hyperautomation is to maximise the number of fully automated processes and to make that happen as quickly and efficiently as possible. We’ve looked at the importance of good communication and change management strategies, but the most successful digital transformations come when there is a good plan and road map in place.
- Audit and visualise your existing processes and workflows. This will help to spot bottlenecks and identify areas for quick automation wins and longer-term optimisations. If your current software supports the use of simulations and digital twins, this can be an excellent way to help you visualise processes and test out scenarios without the fear of real-world loss or risk.
- Establish KPIs and ROI metrics. Take a realistic approach to your goals. Yes, you want to automate quickly but you can only gauge success by things that can be measured. Lay out and share your bigger, cross-business goals but also identify bite-sized targets department-by-department – in other words, establish ambitious but achievable aims that can be completed and measured for success.
- Determine your data landscape. Depending upon the kind of business you are in, you will have varying amounts of structured and unstructured data. Industrial IoT data inputs may be pretty straightforward and can seem like an easier place to begin your automation journey. However, more complex datasets like customer feedback or market trends are equally essential components to robust analytical outcomes.
- Gather the troops. Every organisation has its silos and, alas, within those walled-off departments there often exists essential and valuable information. Before embarking on your hyperautomation path, be sure to nominate team leaders and plan regular collaborative sessions to help break down these barriers and get to the treasures within.
Next steps on your hyperautomation journey
Hyperautomation goals, while ambitious, can pay off quickly with the increased competitiveness, agility, and efficiency that they bring. But as with any big change to your business, its success ultimately rests with your people – helping them to find individual benefit in new ways of doing things and see (from the beginning) where they fit into the digital transformation process. Start with a good change management strategy and by appointing dedicated champions among your team leaders. Establish clear and achievable milestones and celebrate success along the way.
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