Digital Transformation appear as a convenient way to put a term on a whole set of things that are changing…but actually it represents a strategy to leverage emergent technologies to enable new business models, new products and services, and new strategies — and drive business growth only if well leaded.
- extract from Gartner, “How to Lead and Enable Digital Transformation”, Jan 2021.
What is the ultimate meaning of digital transformation? It is quickly said: to harness the potential of emerging technologies to access new tools, products and services, with the aim of driving business growth.
To simplify a concept that is by no means trivial, business comes first, but it is the adoption of emerging technologies that enables continuous improvement and the definition of strategies and models capable of providing the competitive advantage that is the very foundation of growth and evolution.
Therefore, Digital Transformation is nothing more than a business strategy in continuous and rapid evolution, centred on people and supported by technologies that represent an investment whose benefits far outweigh the costs.
Applying it also means accepting to take risks. It is certainly not an easy road, but it is the only one that can be taken.
- For the company that has decided to evolve, only two options remain:
- Create in-house know-how from scratch and approach digital transformation as a challenge that is undoubtedly exciting but in which experiments, failures, lessons learnt, adaptation and the stimulus to try again are daily experience.
- Rely on the right partner to lead something that, as we are describing, is highly complex and capable of maximising results with minimal waste, bringing experience both in process design and in scouting for new technologies, methodologies and innovations.
What is the role of Hyperautomation in Digital Transformation?
Hyperautomation refers to an approach in which organizations rapidly automate business and IT processes through a disciplined approach that involves multiple technologies like Case Management/Low-Code, robotic process automation (RPA) and AI.
- Gartner Competitive Landscape: Hyperautomation Service Providers, 11/12/2020.
At the current state of innovation, according to leading Market Analysts, Hyperautomation encompasses all technologies that, individually or combined to varying degrees with each other, allow processes to be automated to the maximum and in an intelligent manner, converting people's time in a sustainable manner into activities with greater business value and can be implemented through 'low-code' or sometimes even 'zero-code', i.e. in an agile manner and with limited IT knowledge, with consequent benefits in terms of economics, simplicity of applications and implementation time.
Three technologies for one purpose
Process knowledge, agile and rapid implementation and overview are therefore the characteristics of the enabling technologies of a hyperautomation strategy.
In detail, hyperautomation bases its essence on three pillar technologies:
- Case Management / Business Process Modelling (BPM) represents the skeleton of automation and allows entire step-by-step processes to be digitally reconstructed with a 'work-flow' logic (e.g. from the request for the activation of a contract to the approval of a goods receipt to pay a supplier, to the tracking of a purchase by a customer entering and leaving the warehouse, and much more).These are the same technologies that manage master data and related activities, in some cases going so far as to propose true functional verticals, such as CRMs (i.e. Customer Relationship Management systems) to manage entire business areas, from pre-sales to sales and after-sales, but also marketing or customer service. Other products, on the other hand, are much less specialised, but more oriented towards being an accelerator for building new applications and made up of pre-built libraries that place them somewhere between a specialised market product and a completely customised realisation.
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are software robots (or more simply bots) that simulate human behaviour in the most repetitive and frequent actions, thus enabling them to carry out tasks that a simple integration would not be able to manage. Robots are mainly distinguished into 'attended', capable of supporting and helping the operator in the task, taking care of all the repetitive and low-value tasks, and 'unattended', when robots perform autonomously the tasks for which they are programmed.In both cases, human supervision plays a key role, at least in the function of controlling the results, coordinating and monitoring the active bots, which is exercised through suites of tools provided by the technology vendors themselves.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) has found several concrete applications in recent years, from the intelligent reading of documents in a variety of formats (ref. Intelligent Document Recognition), to learning through the study of historical databases of replicable behaviour (ref. Machine Learning), to the ability to predict behaviour through simulation algorithms (ref. Predictive Analysis), just to name the best known applications. Leading RPA vendors are integrating their suites with these capabilities, so as to offer 'Intelligent Automation' products, which takes RPA technologies - whose fate is otherwise to become an outdated commodity - to new levels of functionality and complexity management capabilities.
But why are we talking about Hyperautomation and not just RPA?
If, as mentioned above, the fate of RPA alone is to become an outdated commodity, it follows that hyperautomation is the technology trend to follow.
RPA bots may have no interaction with users or may require it, but in a way that is decontextualised from the business process in which they are inserted; in both cases the human being will have to intervene to resolve exceptions, check the work outcomes, and restart them when a condition of operation fails. For this reason, RPA alone does not allow for the end-to-end management and control of a process, something that Hyperautomation does, which realises a single point of access and control of one's work (the digital desk), into which robots are inserted, acting both transparently and triggered by the operator, but remaining under his complete control. In this way, there is a significant increase in savings due to automation, as well as an increase in customer satisfaction.
The existing market according to Analysts
There is already a very significant Hyperautomation market, measured at around USD 482 billion by the end of 2020 and growing rapidly. Market Analysts also see it as one of the "top trends" in technology in the coming years and estimate "5X" growth by 2025, with a CAGR of up to 50% year-on-year.
By 2024, the push towards Hyperautomation will see companies adopting at least two or three of the available technologies in their processes, through two main approaches: the more established use of technology to aggregate processes and systems and enhance them, and the newer 'application re-platforming', which will see old applications being rebuilt entirely with low-code technologies.
But in the end, what is new compared to 15 years ago?
Although the maturity and solidity of what is technologically behind the term Hyperautomation is evident, how this relates to the recent past is not so evident.
Indeed, it must be pointed out that we have been hearing about Digital Transformation for a long time, long before Hyperautomation came onto the scene. Starting in the 1990s, this concept quickly made its way to industry experts and customers who began to take an interest in it.
Many will remember the management software accessible via a GUI installed on their PCs, or the first web-based management systems that allowed, according to an object-oriented logic, work practices to be replicated digitally, but not to work on process steps effectively, minimising the waste of human time.
Today, we can do exactly that and achieve Digital Transformation 2.0.
The evolution of technologies, the consequent emergence of new services and the applicability to new strategies, is part of the game. If we look back with this in mind, the industrial revolution itself and all the revolutions the market has witnessed throughout history have always been transformations.
When we say that digital transformation today is underpinned by Hyperautomation, we simply mean that it is the 'modern' way of doing it.