Following on from the success of our first roundtable event, and the obvious topic to discuss being how to build and embed culture within Engineering teams in an increasingly remote working world, I wanted to get everyone round the table again (virtually) to discuss other relevant topics in the industry.
The event was a great success, with some interesting insights shared between attendees.
For the second talk of the event Adam Skafi, previous Chief Programming Officer at Forensic Thinktank, spoke about the benefits and impact of intelligent automation on businesses. Defining intelligent automation, Adam highlighted that whilst there are many interpretations, they can be rather vague. Quoting Deloitte: ‘the combination of artificial intelligence and automation.’
Speaking about the rise of intelligent automation, emphasising how it is beginning to change the way that businesses operate in nearly every industry sector. Adam mentioned a study by Harvard Business Review that through interviews with C-Level professionals, claims intelligent automation is ‘critical to organisations ability to compete.’
Automation will indeed bring value to the company, but only if they have a strategy in place to implement it.
Robotic Process Automation vs Intelligent Automation
Robotic process automation (RPA) has been utilised to an increased extent by businesses recently, not because the technology is new but as a result of companies such as Microsoft and Google having developed RPA software with a local platform.
Speaking on this difference Adam clarifies that usually businesses begin with robotic desktop automation; basically an RPA with manual intervention, which is usually used in legacy systems to integrate two systems where organisations don’t have the capability to integrate the systems and an man-power is still required to complete the process. Robotic process automation (RPA) is fully automated with digital triggers or self-service.
Adam indicates that we have moved away from process driven automation towards more data driven automation: Machine Intelligence, using standard algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), applying AI decisions. Artificial Intelligence enables individuals to solve complex problems through the usage of data and to some extent, meet critical decisions that people are unable to; AI can help to mitigate risk. Through this trend we see an increase in the complexity of automation as well as costs.
Artificial Intelligence: The Benefits
Whilst there are many benefits to AI, Adam highlights five:
1. Cost Reduction; saving human and system resources.
2. Higher Accuracy and Quality; through the reduction of human error.
3. Increased Core Competencies, workflow agility; because of the system being data-driven, the system can adjust itself to any new inputs.
4. Improved Productivity; see benefit three and two.
5. Strategic Focus; data-driven systems, supported with advanced algorithms, you are able to meet your strategic objectives quicker.
How to Apply Intelligent Automation
The first step is to understand your strategy (objectives, values, etc) for intelligent automation, from there you can align your skillset and infrastructure. As intelligent automation is business driven and based on business processes, the most important step, is to re-define and standardise your business processes. A big mistake that companies make is to take their current processes and try to automate them, which will not result in an increase in efficiency.
As a business, you then need to generate a strategy on how to capture value behind intelligent automation. Of course then, measuring, learning and adjusting your strategies as appropriate.
Opening up the discussion to the floor, insightful points were raised around the need to upskill the current workforce in intelligent automation practices, as well as the undervalued significance of qualifications over than a degree.
I'd like to thank everyone who attended, and the fantastic speakers for contributing to such an insightful and fun evening.