Jaspar Casey - 14 April 2021
“Hyperautomation is irreversible and inevitable. Everything that can and should be automated will be automated.” – Brian Burke, Research Vice President at Gartner.
If you think about the continuum of automation that starts with simple task automation, hyperautomation represents the extreme of the concept. In a practical sense, it is debatable whether you can ever really reach a state of hyperautomation. However, when viewed as something that can be strived towards, hyperautomation can be a useful goal for guiding the automation efforts in your organization.
Without wanting to go too far down the management consultancy rabbit hole, we have broken down what we think of as a simpler way to understand hyperautomation and what that might mean for your business.
Hyperautomation was coined by Gartner and can be thought of as analogous to Forrester’s digital process automation (DPA) and IDC’s intelligent process automation (IPA). As firms embark on their hyperautomation journey, Gartner suggests first defining the desired business outcomes. By looking at three areas that automation can improve — revenue, costs, and risks — firms can consider how to optimize processes and make use of appropriate digital tools.
Start with your desired business outcomes
The first step is defining the desired business outcomes, which are measured by three objectives: revenue, costs, and risks.
First, look at your key revenue drivers and considering how automation could enhance these. For example, let’s think about fast food restaurants. Convenience and speed of service are a major part of the appeal for customers. Therefore, a key revenue driver for these restaurants is the ability to take and fulfil orders quickly and seamlessly. Any way that automation can improve their ability to do so will be of potential interest. By picking apart the discrete processes involved, you can identify potential bottlenecks caused by reliance on manual processes, or by automated systems that don’t neatly slot together.
Consider how automation can reduce costs through efficiently reimagining processes. Again, thinking about our fast food example, imagine someone physically walking back to the kitchen with the order written out on a piece of paper. This works just fine in less efficiency-minded environments, but fast food restaurants will eliminate this labor and time cost by having orders appear on a screen in the kitchen the moment they have been made at the point-of-sale (POS). Naturally, these systems will need to be thoroughly tested to ensure smooth operation during peak periods. One such fast food chain with over 15,000 locations used Eggplant to test critical paths and workflows to make sure these systems stand up to frequent updates.
What risks to the business could be averted by automation? If a customer’s order is ready but just sits there on the counter getting cold, you risk a bad customer experience. Fast food brands often have strict KPIs and service standards that individual locations and operators are responsible for keeping to. Intelligent use of automation can mitigate these risks and ensure that the required levels of operational consistency are maintained.
Connecting it all together
In the context of our fast food example, you can see how revenue, costs, and risks overlap and often span the same systems. Therefore, it’s important that when you’re looking at the automation of certain processes, you can understand the effects on other parts of the system. This is where digital tools come into play.
Robotic Process Automation
Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, is a technology used by many firms as they embark on their hyperautomation journey. RPA is the use of non-invasive automation for repetitive, predictable tasks that a computer can execute via a user interface (UI). RPA is used in everything from healthcare to defense, banking to retail. According to Gartner, because of its non-invasive nature, RPA is useful for interacting with “legacy applications where traditional integration will be complex, time-consuming, and expensive.”
AI is another key tool for hyperautomation. Because AI is commoditized — i.e. it’s possible to provision AI capabilities on-demand at standardized prices — it has never been more accessible. In the context of automation, AI can be used for relatively simple tasks and decisions, such as autocorrecting OCR errors (think zeros and the letter O) without requiring human input. At the more sophisticated end of the spectrum, AI can interpret complex visual information and then make intelligent decisions based on what it believes to be a reasonable course of action. To put it a little more concretely, AI can drive a car, or in Eggplant’s context, it can drive a piece of software.
DevOps refers to a set of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that help teams deliver better quality software faster. In some sense, DevOps can be seen as analogous to hyperautomation, but within the context of software development. What I mean by this is that it describes an idealized state achieved through a very intentional set of practices and ideas. Many practitioners are understandably protective of the term and wary of its rampant misuse in the industry. After all, not every IT buzzword can claim origin from a novel that speaks to the many frustrations of the modern developer.
Key to working in a DevOps way is the smart utilization of automation at every stage: in building, testing, deployment, monitoring, and planning. Without embracing automation, DevOps is simply not possible. By extension, firms cannot hope to work towards a state of hyperautomation if they aren’t making a conscientious effort at DevOps. Through the use of Agile methods and DevOps, software teams can support and enable desired business outcomes by embracing automation.
This is the part of the blog where I would normally pitch Eggplant as the ideal hyperautomation partner. In truth, there is no such thing as a hyperautomation partner, because hyperautomation will mean something different for every firm and every person. Instead, start to think about the ways that automation can support desired business outcomes across revenue, costs, and risks. It’s certainly the case that Eggplant is the automation partner of choice for organizations like Walmart, the US Army, Taco Bell, BMW, Citi, and hundreds of others. Each organization has different goals, priorities, and preferred ways of working. What they have in common is that they use Eggplant’s intelligent automation platform to edge their way towards hyperautomation.
Hyperautomation is less of a distinct stage and more of an idealized state to move towards. By partnering with Eggplant to work towards this goal, you’re equipping yourself with the best possible solution. After that, it’s up to you how far you want to go towards hyperautomation.