Enterprises see great benefits in automation and RPA – but aren’t able to take advantage yet

The vast majority of enterprises see the benefits in deploying intelligent automation tools – but fewer than half have put their money where their mouth is, according to a new study.

Data from low-code development platform Appian, in its latest Future of Work survey, has found only 46% of organisations polled had deployed intelligent automation while 86% said integration would improve customer experience.

Customer satisfaction was cited by more than two thirds (68%) of respondents as an area which would improve through automation, while a similar number (69%) said it would lead to monetisation of new revenue. 92% of participants said it would give employees a more rewarding experience. Yet only 12% of companies polled said they have intelligent automation offerings which work very well today.

What is holding this back? It is a long process to get to seamless automation – and according to the research organisations are struggling at the first few hurdles. Two thirds said they had difficulty integrating existing IT investments with artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) technology, which seems a reasonable objection given the demanding nature of AI and RPA. Yet four in five said they “fail[ed] to understand how AI would change everything”, while 89% of those polled said their organisations struggle to adapt with technological change in general.

Naturally, Appian argues low-code offerings, where the burden is eased from IT and application development is a much more streamlined process. The data “shows an enormous disconnect between the expected business benefits of intelligent automation and a typical organisation’s ability to realise those benefits,” as the company put it.

Yet there are alternatives. Last month Enterprise CIO spoke with mobility and telecom expense management provider Tangoe after their acquisition of MOBI and how their RPA assistants, focused on such areas as system integration – in multiple languages – and email scanning. The company has five in total; Audrey, a chatbot which currently handles almost 20% of Tangoe’s help desk live chat, Johnny, an automated telecom management bot, communication parser Otto, Mikey, for billing collection, and Rosie, who calculates telecom expenses through predictive and prescriptive analytics.

It makes for an interesting exploration of what actually is automated. Writing on the Tangoe blog in December, brand journalist Matt Louden noted a potential discrepancy. “For many solutions, automation is a swivel-chair approach that uses people behind the scenes to power software-based data entry portals,” Louden wrote. “Swivel-chair systems don’t just create slower processes: they also make these activities more expensive to perform and create the potential for a wide variety of human data entry errors.”

If you’re in an organisation which is desperate to take advantage of automation but can’t quite get there yet, there are therefore options available to you.

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