New, intelligent automation
At the “Enterprise Automation Forum 2018”, numerous topics were discussed, such as challenges and key trends in the business process automation, from RPA (Robotic Process Automation) tools that are used for the simplest processes to WLA (Workload Automation) systems, which help control the ever increasing complexity of environments and systems in large organizations. It was also pointed out that one of the main development criteria is the use of progress in research of artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning.
Automation is encompassing the organizations on a large scale. The most automated areas include: IT operations, Big Data analytics, data center support and business processes. According to the information gathered by Enterprise Management Associates, automation is used the least in the implementation of new application releases and new personnel onboarding.
Dan Twing, President and Chief Operating Officer of Enterprise Management Associates
“There is a growing need for automation. No wonder that it is becoming more and more widespread. It supports business agility and efficiency, helps reduce costs as well as the number of errors. Automation also helps increase profitability, customer satisfaction level, time to market as well as the offer value” – said Dan Twing, President and COO of Enterprise Management Associates during his speech at the “Enterprise Automation Forum 2018" in Warsaw.
"Automation is a strategy for most businesses. Workload automation is the foundation of the strategy, as it is the most commonly applied form of automation” – added Dan Twing.
The tools represent the most important element of this strategy. Most organizations admit that they have too many automation tools and so-called schedulers. Moreover, advanced IT solutions pose significant challenge for the older WLA products, in particular in the area of audits, integration, workflow design efficiency or high availability. That is why so many businesses have been interested in new generation solutions.
According to Dan Twing, what should be the features of the strategic and fundamental product? First of all, such product must have advanced architecture, offer high scalability and be user friendly. It should also be automatic and support easy and fast integration, not only by ready-made connectors but also by reliable API interfaces.
Automation supports business agility and efficiency, helps reduce costs as well as the number of errors. Automation also improves profitability, customer satisfaction level, time to market as well as the offer value.
Mirosław Andziak, President & CEO, InfiniteDATA
Mirosław Andziak, President of Infinite Data, presented Automate NOW! solution. It may well become the foundation for the business automation complex strategy. “In 2015, we introduced ScheduleIN – an automation solution developed based on the latest methodology. We made it available to the business users and offered easier implementation, user friendly and faster operation. Now the time has come for another step leading to an even higher level. We are entering the era of the intelligent, cognitive automation based on artificial intelligence” – said Mirosław Andziak.
The starting point for such new solution was to become aware of the challenges we face in the modern business environment. We need the data from the omnipresent sensors and monitors to understand such issue. Log information must be analyzed using Big Data analytics technology as well as the deep learning mechanisms, because a human being is unable to grasp the enormous amount of data and events. Moreover, we must ensure communication with the system in a natural language. The utmost goal is to create a solution that would be the extension of human intelligence.
“All of this helped build the third generation WLA platform. Automate NOW! is 10 times faster than other solutions and its integration is even easier than before. In the future, the system will be operated by artificial intelligence” – said Mirosław Andziak.
During further discussions at the session on cognitive systems, key functions of the new generation automation solutions were discussed. Paweł Cimosz of Alior Bank stated that in his opinion, automatic mechanisms as well as high flexibility were the key factors that would help realize all the plans.
“We can do absolutely everything we can imagine" - stressed Paweł Cimosz.
Paweł Cimosz, Alior Bank
Ariel Kenneth Ampol, Customer Success Manager and PH Site Leader, InfiniteDATA
Ariel Kenneth Ampol of InfiniteDATA pointed out the application intelligence aspect. “So far, one of the key problems for our clients was to have multiple solution operators that would perform manual operations whenever something happened. Automate NOW! platform will be able to learn how the users operate and suggest actions to be undertaken by the administrators. This will generate savings and help releases human resources for other tasks” – stressed Ariel Kenneth Ampol.
Automate NOW! platform will be able to learn how the users operate and suggest actions to be undertaken by the administrators.
Bold but cautious
Aleksandra Przegalińska, Assistant Professor at Kozminski University and Research Fellow at MIT Sloan School of Management
Automate NOW! is the response to the key automation development trends as well as the changes in the artificial intelligence field. Such conclusions were presented by Aleksandra Przegalińska, Assistant Professor at Network Society Management Department at Kozminski University and Research Fellow at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Aleksandra Przegalińska talked about long-term consequences of mass automation and robotics of businesses and pointed out the business changes that might be caused by cognitive technologies and artificial intelligence.
Over the past two years, we have witnessed ground-breaking events: from purely symbolic ones, such as Saudi Arabia’s granting citizenship to robot Sophia, to significant scientific achievements, such as the results of the AlphaGo Zero program, which was the AlphaGo version developed by DeepMind Technologies owned by Alphabet group. In the opinion of Aleksandra Przegalińska, AlphaGo Zero helped achieved strategies used in Go game that were previously unknown and not used by human players and represented the growing trend. Perhaps, we will soon be able to witness how the artificial intelligence is able to optimize business processes or diagnose diseases in the manner we have never known until today.
ToMnet by aforementioned DeepMind Technologies is yet another project representing new developments. The company has developed a new type of artificial intelligence, which similarly to a human being , is able to understand mental states of others - emotions, beliefs or intentions and predict their behavior accordingly. Over the upcoming months and years we can expect other ground-breaking developments in this area.
Perhaps, we will soon be able to witness how the artificial intelligence is able to optimize business processes or diagnose diseases in the manner we have never known until today.
What does it all mean to the organizations that wish to apply artificial intelligence and related technologies in automation? What should we do and how? First of all, we should pay attention to virtual assistants and chatbots. As research shows, the users, millennials especially, expect to be given a single system that will be able to solve a variety of problems. What is more important, all of these processes should be voice activated.
One of the most interesting examples of such trends is the Google Duplex, an extension of Google Assistant, which supports conversations in a natural language. The model, which has been tested for six years, can not only understand sentences said with a different accent but also recognize meaningful context, even in case of an unfinished utterance. As a result, the system can independently perform such tasks, as: arrange a meeting, book a hairdresser appointment or a table at a restaurant. More importantly, as the creators promise, the system will be able to pass the Touring Test. Most of the Google Duplex users are not aware that they are dealing with a robot.
Obviously, not all the ventures in this area are successful. We need to remain cautious. Business has to pay attention to what knowledge is aggregated by the artificial intelligence and they decide, what to do with it. Improper implementation of the new solutions might lead to serious image crisis. Chatbot experiments conducted at the Kozminski University have shown that purely physical reactions to robots with human faces are much stronger. However, people perceive such robots as less competent. The opposite happens in the case of a text chatbot.
Secondly, deep learning mechanisms are able to effectively support the initiatives involving switching from Big Data to Smart Data. Artificial intelligence helps retrieve important information from the vast amount of data and discover data correlations, which a human being would never be able to spot.
However, it seems that the machines will never completely replace humans. Contrary to popular opinions, we will never become merely passive consumers of the artificial intelligence products. Aleksandra Przegalińska sees the future as the synergy of humans and technology. Technology helps make difficult tasks easier. It also helps humans to reach beyond their cognitive horizon.
Deep learning mechanisms are able to effectively support the initiatives involving switching from Big Data to Smart Data. Artificial intelligence helps retrieve important information from the vast amount of data and discover data correlations, which a human being would never be able to spot.
Intelligent combination of technologies and experience
Wojciech Zajączkowski, Head of Cognitive Automation, Accenture
The subject of intelligent automation was touched upon by Wojciech Zajączkowski, Head of Cognitive Automation Accenture. More than a half of all employees perform their tasks based on routine and repetitive actions. It applies, in particular, to text involving work. Many people perform repetitive tasks, whose volume increases in time. Such boring and time consuming work produces may errors. It could be just as well performed by robots. More importantly, robots are given more and more human attributes. Not only can they read and understand documents but also conduct meaningful conversations with the users and plan and monitor actions. In Gartner’s opinion, as a result of all of this, nearly half of tasks currently performed by humans could be automated. Gartner analysts estimate that it would help generate even 80% cost savings.
“In addition to a standard Robotic Process Automation, we could achieve so much more. Some have just started thinking about it, while the others have already been doing it. The key issue is to combine various methodologies. As a result of such combination, artificial intelligence solutions may recognize texts and classify them as emails, documents or letters and then retrieve data from them” – explained Wojciech Zajączkowski.
Machine learning based text analyzers that are able classify text and retrieve information may be used for even more complex tasks. They are able to analyze practically any text: help desk requests, tickets in the technical support department or HR department or the information emailed to banks or insurers. When combined with RPA mechanisms, they will help achieve the next phase of automation and further optimization of the entire business process. Most importantly, the implementation of such system could be achieved in up to 9 months, including the time required for proof of concept, pilot project and production implementation.
Robots are given more and more human attributes. Not only can they read and understand documents but also conduct meaningful conversations with the users and plan and monitor actions.
Maciej Sowa, Director of Development at SimplicITy
During the session dedicated to IT automation, Maciej Sowa, Director of Development at SimplicITy talked about clients, who had implemented interesting automation projects. Businesses usually start building customized solutions as they believe their needs are rather specific. As a result, they face challenges they would otherwise be able to avoid, had they decided to use off-the-shelf solutions. Usually, they are unable to handle the development of a customized system.
“It is advisable to use experienced consultants, in particular during the project initiation as well as implementation phase. Consultants offer know-how, technology and experience to help achieve best results. An outside opinion helps see problems better” – said Maciej Sowa. And what could we expect from such support? We would be able to reduce errors and processing time as well as the use of human capital, which would translate into increased productivity and efficiency of the people and the entire organization. Last but not least, it would help reduce the costs.
Łukasz Majer, Chairman of the board of Nova Praxis and Piotr Żołopa, Project Management Department manager at Soflab Technology talked about the challenges arising from robotics and business process automation. Łukasz Majer pointed to areas that could be robotized, such as: controlling, reporting, procurement processes, accounting and HR, recruitment as well as all the processes handled by less qualified personnel. He also recommended to implement robotics to succeed.
“The most important thing is to remodel the process, to define the supporting process and to implement a pilot project. It is also important to provide implementation support to make sure that we would not end up with a malfunctioning, useless robot” - said Łukasz Majer.
Łukasz Majer, Chairman of the Board, Nova Praxis
Piotr Żołopa, , Project Management Department Manager, Soflab Technology
Piotr Żołopa also pointed out that the use of robotics was nothing new. “It is very close to test automation, which my company has dealt with for years now. Even though they differ in terms of objectives and areas (test automation is not applied in production environments), they have many similarities, such as: effecting business operations based on available functions, eliminating manual and repetitive tasks, time savings or the need to maintain robot environment and scripts” – explained Piotr Żołopa.
It is important to provide implementation support to make sure that we would not end up with a malfunctioning, useless robot”.
People like simple solutions
During the discussion held at the end of the cognitive solutions session, Paweł Cimosz of Alior Bank pointed out that WLS ScheduleIN solution offered numerous advantages, of which automatic module was the most important. “Nearly 100 business users are able to generate automatic reports, which are then visualized and published on the platform to be shared with other users. The system is user friendly and does not require IT support" - claimed Paweł Cimosz.
Maciej Piotrowski, Chief Technologist at DXC Technology
Maciej Piotrowski from DXC Technology presented key success factors of automation in the form of simple migration. “Minimized business interruptions mean low risk faced by the entire project. Most employees are not even aware that something has changed" - said Maciej Piotrowski. Employees must finally become aware of the benefits of such new tools. If not used, the tool will be forgotten.
Paweł Cimosz also mentioned the human aspect. “People are usually opposed to changes. However, ScheduleIN will greatly improve any new changes” – stressed Paweł Cimosz. If the employees are shown such simple and user friendly solution, the automation implementation will be much easier.
Enterprise Automation Awards
At the Enterprise Automation Forum Enterprise Awards were presented in the following categories:
Automation Strategy: mBank
Digital Transformation: Polkomtel
Business Impact: Santander Consumer Bank
Project Management: Elisa and TCS Team
Partner of The Year: SimplicITy