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Critical trends in the intelligent automation marketplace

Authored by Claudio Garcia and Ehsan Khan

As the business world grasps what is now the “new reality” due to COVID-19, many firms will seek to accelerate their digital transformation strategies to improve their overall performance. As part of that journey, intelligent automation technology will be a critical success driver of any firm’s digital transformation efforts. The Baker Tilly Digital team’s objective is to support and guide your intelligent automation strategic plan. Toward that end, this article focuses on the current market trends related to the intelligent automation landscape.

Trend 1: Accelerating investment in intelligent automation

COVID-19 has caused a shock in our normal way of life and how we go about our business. Firms have begun to realize the importance of automation, and how by implementing intelligent automation technology, they can not only continue to operate during a pandemic, but also prosper. According to a recent HFS Research study about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on technology investment, automation was the No. 2 spending priority across the firms surveyed.

Trend 2: Intelligent automation expectations

With increased technology investment spending, firms’ expectations related to robotic process automation (RPA) have also increased. In years past, firms invested in automation to reduce costs, time and errors. Although saving time and costs is still a top benefit, expectations by leadership teams are evolving to include customer service, improved decision-making culture, compliance, risk, security and governance. Firms are expecting more long-term and strategic benefits rather than just cost reduction and efficiency.

Trend 3: Intelligent automation challenges: achieving scale

As organizations begin to rapidly invest in intelligent automation, challenges along the way can be expected. Scalability is the No. 1 challenge firms must overcome when pursuing an intelligent automation strategy. Forrester Research surveyed approximately 6,000 business leaders and found that over 50% of RPA programs failed to implement more than 10 robots. It also found that less than 10% of those firms had 100 or more robots, qualifying them as advanced automation programs. Moreover, in an IBM study, of the firms that have implemented some form of automation technology, less than 25% were considered large, complex automations, and only 7% were found to be implementing automation at scale.  

There are a few critical reasons for the lack of RPA scalability, such as: insufficient development of the internal team’s capability, gaps in the use case identification process, inability to effectively maintain solutions, and a poorly managed governance and operating model. Large, more complex firms tend to find difficulty in implementing a governance and operating model for scaling and managing the automation development.

In order to scale successfully, organizations need to:

  1. Define their automation strategy
  2. Align on the operating and governance model for the short-term to medium-term
  3. Accelerate the identification of attractive use cases
  4. Build a solution development team with a balance of technical and functional skillsets

Increasing staff productivity, reducing labor costs, and streamlining processes while maintaining quality and minimizing errors were key focus points for early adopters of automation technology. With COVID-19, intelligent automation is being seen as a way to propel growth and gain market share during these uncertain times.

By implementing intelligent automation, the key benefits that firms are seeing include improved overall customer experience, accelerated revenue and profit growth, and increased efficiency in operational performance. The demand for growth by leveraging intelligent automation is being seen globally by the shift to a more digital workforce strategy. By 2023, automation spending is projected to be close to $12 billion, with two out of three of the firms being based in the United States and European Union.

The time is now

The COVID-19 pandemic is redefining how businesses function and operate. Many firms are focused on surviving the crisis; however, post-pandemic, firms are also planning to make significant investments to improve their performance. As part of that trend, business leaders are accelerating their investment in intelligent automation to strengthen the benefits of their digital transformation and leverage automation to drive incremental growth.   

For more information on this topic or to learn how Baker Tilly specialists can help, contact our team.

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