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First, choose what not to do


Johannesburg, 01 Sep 2021
Read time 3min 00sec
Liz Allen, Capability Architect at Ovations.
Liz Allen, Capability Architect at Ovations.

A mere 71 years ago, Alan Turing proposed the Turing Test: A simple method of determining whether a machine can demonstrate human intelligence. According to Investopedia.com: "If a machine can engage in a conversation with a human without being detected as a machine, it has demonstrated human intelligence,” thus passing the Turing Test.

How many chatbots have you seen lately on your favourite websites that have passed this test? And how would you feel dealing with a chatbot that passed the test? Maybe, more importantly, would you know?

Even in the midst of a pandemic we still have some things to be grateful for. Artificial intelligence has not taken over the world just yet.

Artificial intelligence has come in and out of popular discussion ever since 1950 when Turing published his test. As developments in technology have made strides, so it has re-surfaced in popular discourse and application. Most recently were developments in big data and deep learning algorithms that put AI applications on the map in terms of feasibility and profitability.

Now we can read about terms like hyper-automation, digital process automation and intelligent process automation. Some believe all three terms mean the same thing, others believe they mean something different but are inter-related. What they all agree on is that the next automation frontier is composed of multifaceted automation capabilities:

  • Automating repetitive tasks across the enterprise with robotic process automation (RPA).
  • Automating tasks with unstructured data can be achieved with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities from image and speech recognition to natural language processing and generation. On the whole, these are data-driven and outcome-focused. Some RPA vendors are starting to include these capabilities in their offerings, but not all.
  • Business process management and workflow tools can link tasks composed of these different capabilities with your people as well as with bots to create customer journeys and process outcomes that deliver value for your customers.
  • Machine learning capabilities will learn and improve their capabilities with experience – also one that you might find in new RPA releases.
  • The process mining market is one of the fastest growing in the automation space. It’s a family of techniques that relates the fields of data science to process management.

Watch this space – the latest I have heard about is autonomous automation, which will automate the process of automation. At Ovations, we like the term intelligent process automation. “Whatever automation you invest in or implement this year or next, keep it intelligent.

The possibilities are endless and can be confusing. So where to start? In the words of strategy guru Michel Porter: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” Until autonomous automation is more mature, don’t adopt automation for automation’s sake. The pandemic has shown us that people are still at the centre of everything we do. Technology is the enabler that makes working while locked down at home possible.

An overall automation framework can help you think about:

  • How you are automating and how you can automate better; and
  • Where your automation technologies can better enable your people.

Get out the strategy textbooks, dust off the lean 6 sigma tools and spend some time understanding your business processes and which automation tools would make the biggest impact next. 


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