By Rakesh Sangani
The Internet has played a critical role in modern life, ubiquitous throughout households and corporate business; it has been key to the democratisation of knowledge. It not only constitutes arguably the most critical innovation in the democratisation trend so far; it also allows users to gain knowledge and access to other technologies which they may have never known.
The democratisation of certain technology is already here, 20 years ago the only person that could change the temperature of the boiler in my house was the one who understood how the boiler worked. Today, my 2-year-old daughter can use Alexa to turn up and down the temperature, which is not always a good thing!
The democratisation of automation refers to the process by which access to automation rapidly continues to become more accessible to more people and ultimately everyone in the business.
New low-code technologies and improved user-experiences have empowered those outside of the traditional technical industry to access and use technological products and services. At an increasing scale, consumers have greater access to use and purchase sophisticated tech products, as well as to participate meaningfully in their development.
Democratisation of Robotic Process Automation
RPA was created by Blue Prism, with the focus on unattended automation. Unattended RPA bots execute tasks and interact with applications independent of human involvement, performing batch operations that do not require user intervention.
Typically, this was implemented by a central team. The governance model included a central development team with a reporting line either into a functional leader, Shared Services or the CIO office with automations carried out by an RPA Centre of Excellence.
Business users would sometimes feel like they were giving up activities and sub-processes to invisible robots, that would process transactions with greater efficiency, accuracy and work, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
However, RPA is evolving. Blue Prism are no longer the market leaders and whilst there are still more unattended robots in the marketplace, attended automation is faster growing.
The vision of attended automation is to enable business users to become more productive, automating frequent activities in their day job, with the help of the right toolkit. This is also known as the citizen model.
Low-code is software with a focus on visual development, such as drag and drop components that we’re all becoming more familiar with. The acquisition of Softomotive by Microsoft was illustrative of the desire to create better low-code and low-cost automation capability for business users, combining RPA with other functionality to allow the business user to automate more.
Microsoft envision a world where automation is democratised.
This democratisation trend is illustrated today in professional services, where PwC have acquired 50,000 bots in their tax practice to enable their tax practitioners to leverage automation in tax work, and automate mundane rules-based activities. This has not only made their people more efficient and effective but has improved employee satisfaction within the practices.
Democratisation is not just limited to robotic process automation. It also applies to other technologies. The intelligent automation toolkit includes process mining, machine learning tools and artificial intelligence.
Democratisation of Process Mining
Smart companies like Uber, are also moving to the democratisation of process mining, where business users have access to process analytic data and help understand the workings of processes for which they are responsible. This enables an employee to diagnose process issues, understand the root cause and identify the actions that will remedy the issue.
Ultimately, individuals are empowered so that they can improve the processes that they are working on. Business users have the opportunity to leverage tools to enable them to discover process issues, act on those issues and monitor the results.
Democratisation of Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
The same trend applies for machine learning and AI tools. It is becoming more and more accessible to leverage tools from powerhouses such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM. This provides interfaces for ‘speech-to-text’, ‘Q&A’ or ‘Face Recognition’ and can be accessed through an API with a charge linked to usage.
There is also a range of independent software vendors that provide learning technology, and NLP capabilities to allow users to increase automation more than was ever possible before. Invariably, machine learning and AI is being made simpler so that business users can eventually leverage this capability to automate more without the need of long-term highly-skilled expertise.
This is becoming an increasingly competitive space, with AI and ML platform providers attempting to make the capability easier to consume for business users.
What does this mean for your company?
The direction of travel for the technology companies in this space is to invest more in low-code automation technology and free training. This will enable businesses to build capability faster and more effectively. However, this opposes the view that automation and tech capability should be led and owned by the IT function. By democratising automation, one is allowing users to have more access than they’ve ever had before, which comes with risks attached – the question is whether you can set up an environment which mitigates those risks and empowers your people?
Think carefully about the vision of automation in your company and whether you want this led by the IT team with a small number of RPA (or process mining, ML and AI) champions, or whether you want every person in your business having access to automation which will make the business more productive and effective than ever before.
If automation is on your organisation’s agenda, and you are looking for the right parter to hep you adapt and scale then get in touch with the Proservartner team today.