Forrester, Microsoft, and the Future of Automation on the hello, Human Podcast
by Jon Knisley, Jan 22, 4:17:52 pm
Our podcast, hello, Human, features the leading builders, explorers, and warriors of AI. Together, we investigate how they’re putting AI to work to transform enterprises and make sustainable progress on automation, privacy, business disruption, human-bot teaming, and much more. We strive to make each episode intelligent and engaging, with the ultimate goal of improving your understanding of the opportunities AI can bring to your business and our world.
Episode 5 – Understand Today, Automate for Tomorrow
FortressIQ | Intelligent Insights for the Modern Enterprise
Episode 5 - Understand Today, Automate for Tomorrow
No one can debate that the pandemic has not accelerated digital transformation. Microsoft reported this past spring that it experienced two years’ worth of transformation in just two months. While the pace has abated, the impact will be felt for at least a generation. From remote work to automation to cloud computing, many shifts will be permanent as this black swan event is etched in everyone’s collective DNA, and businesses pursue resiliency to a degree never previously considered.
This accelerated pace of change has made ensuring continuity and managing through change an existential challenge. Digital resiliency is more important than ever for companies to survive and thrive. Certain business processes have experienced enormous demand spikes while others have languished, and no one could have predicted either. But by documenting user activity at the granular task level and analyzing the data captured to orchestrate process automation, companies can address both near- and long-term operational challenges.
I had the opportunity recently to talk about the digital workforce of the future with two true thought leaders in the space: Craig Le Clair, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research and author of Invisible Robots in the Quiet of the Night, and Stephen Siciliano, Partner PM Director, Power Automate at Microsoft. Craig and Stephen are shaping the debate on how AI and automation technologies should be applied across the enterprise to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. My interview with them is available as both podcast and video.
Companies today are under near-constant pressure to accelerate growth, efficiency and ROI. Whether this is the new normal, the next normal, the post-pandemic world, or whatever your preferred term is for business today, effectively implementing intelligent automation at scale is crucial for enterprise success. But this remains a challenge in large organizations because they not only lack the capabilities to easily discover ideal automation candidates, they lack the tools to gather accurate process data and then quickly implement automated workflows. This hurdle set the stage for our conversation.
Forrester’s Craig Le Clair gave us a briefing on some of his latest yet-to-be-published research on the autonomous enterprise, and it’s all fascinating. The autonomous enterprise, according to Craig, requires four patterns of human-machine interaction:
Employee Driven (i.e., humans control automation – virtual agents),
Semi-Autonomous (i.e., humans and machines share authority – machine learning)
Autonomous (machine acts autonomously in closed loop – deep learning, computer vision)
It is not a journey from one stage to the next. Rather, it is the mix of the patterns that a company may maintain depending on various factors, such as threats, opportunities, resources, and technologies.
That journey metaphor extended to comments from Stephen Siciliano, in which he described the enterprise response to the pandemic as transitioning from an early sprint to the eventual marathon. The current level of business process automation has reached a point where it’s supporting enterprises, but there remains a huge backlog of demand for digital transformation. The challenge now is addressing processes where partial automation overwhelms related manual processes, and some of that can be attributed to incomplete process intelligence.
These process gaps continue to exist, and those inefficiencies and failures make a business process less than optimal. These are the blind spots that every company experiences with every complex, large-scale change program. Sandwiched between customer and employee experience on one side, and workflow and operational data on the other, it suggests the lack of detailed operational insights is a missed opportunity for companies and could create a competitive advantage.
Massive economic shifts tend to drive change more quickly and significantly, and this has never been more true or urgent. No matter what stage of your digital transformation journey you are in, the current environment is likely accelerating your process optimization and automation initiatives. Many have written about the specter of job loss from the drive for increased automation. Enterprise veterans know, however, that the human element will never go away – it will merely change. There will be positive opportunities that we will see in the workforce because of innovative automation.
Listen to the entire conversation with Craig and Stephen on the hello, Human podcast or read the full podcast transcript here. Or, you can watch the webinar to see excerpts from Craig’s innovative new autonomous enterprise research at Forrester.