Businesses today waste a lot of man-hours on mundane and repetitive tasks. However, the nature of work as we know it is in for a major overhaul with intelligent automation taking over the reins. A recent report has noted that, by 2022 AI-powered automation can shave the manual IT processes up to 80% and operations expenses by 75%.
Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Viswanath Ramaswamy, Vice President, Technology, IBM Technology Sales, IBM India / South Asia, to understand the ins and outs of intelligent automation and how IBM is supporting its customers in implementing automated workflows.
“Today, automation is necessary when migrating mission-critical workloads to cloud environments,” said Ramaswamy. “Intelligent automation will improve the experience for cloud developers and reliability engineers — from automating the modernisation and deployment of applications onto new environments to assisting with the day-to-day application management.”
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AIM: What is intelligent automation, and how does it help businesses in the post-pandemic era?
Viswanath Ramaswamy: Intelligent automation is transforming the way companies work, as well as how humans interact with technology. It assists businesses in developing new customised goods and services and improving processes, lowering prices, and increasing productivity. Automation simplifies how businesses operate, while artificial intelligence accelerates innovation by making every process more intelligent. In simple terms, intelligent automation (IA) combines artificial intelligence along with robotic process automation and mass amounts of data to automate complex tasks.
The robust automation program consists of a broad set of technologies that include robotics, bot devices, AI, ML, and NLP that support intelligent workflow efficiencies and help businesses drive revenue.
In today’s post-COVID world order, many businesses are looking at advanced automation to deal with the new standard. Client’s today are more aggressively demanding automated processes that remove repetitive, monotonous activities and augment humans to achieve quality results more quickly.
Intelligent automation comes with some clear benefits that can help businesses navigate the crisis and prepare for a stronger future. Firstly, intelligent automation helps improve business resilience, which can be attributed to having robust automation strategies that can facilitate critical business operations. Not only it provides end-to-end enterprise visibility, but it also helps in taking decisive actions, particularly in escalating situations.
Secondly, intelligent automation helps to have more efficient operations, considering it can take over monotonous and repetitive tasks, assisting employees in focusing on more higher-level work.
AIM: What can organisations benefit from intelligent automation?
Viswanath Ramaswamy: Intelligent automation can increase the efficiency and performance of virtually every sort of workflow or procedure. According to an IBM study, automation achievers agree that these transformations help their organisations meet strategic challenges and improve business results.
To embark on the journey of intelligent automation, businesses first undertake digitisation projects targeting their operations with low-code, cloud-ready containerised automation software. Applying AI in projects like document understanding, next best actions suggestions, etc.
From the platform perspective, organisations realise the need for a unifying control plane for intelligent automation. To achieve the scale and ensure that the existing automation tools are accommodated, one needs a platform that is open and yet secure. Such hybrid cloud-centric platforms are being thought of as the launchpad for deploying digital workers.
Intelligent automation enables the entire organisation to be “always-on” and provide seamless continuity in dynamic markets. It is probably the most adaptable way to survive future disruptions.
AIM: What are the key emerging trends in intelligent automation?
Viswanath Ramaswamy: Today, automation is necessary when migrating mission-critical workloads to cloud environments. In such cases, intelligent automation will improve the experience for cloud developers and engineers — from automating the modernisation and deployment of applications onto new environments to assisting with the day-to-day application management.
Another trend is upskilling workers for higher productivity, where intelligent automation augments the various processes and helps employees focus on more quality work and leave the mundane, repetitive work to automation.
Adopting chatbots and conversational AI will soon be mainstream, considering chatbots enhance modern businesses and allow them to connect with customers with efficiency, scale, and speed.
We will also see an evolution of ML practices by businesses to simplify their operations, handle real-time issues, resolve challenges faster and equip themselves with the ability to foresee the crisis and take decisions beforehand.
AIM: Tell us about a few use cases in intelligent automation
Viswanath Ramaswamy: Intelligent automation benefits all enterprises with a large number of repetitive procedures, regardless of their industry. Our workflow management tool — IBM Cloud Pak for Automation, built on the RedHat OpenShift platform, offers a complete and flexible collection of AI-powered automation capabilities to tackle complex operational challenges, creating a lot of interest.
For example, one of India’s leading private sector banks’ trade financing departments uses the IBM Cloud Pak for Automation solution to capture and automate the process of customer letter of credit scrutiny. Many are even using the tool to automate customer onboarding, KYC, loan origination, mortgage cross-selling, insurance claim processing, eOffice automation for government departments, invoice processing, and other processes.
In another case, Airtel has been working with us to embed AI capabilities into its business. IBM’s automation workflow allows the company to rapidly improve network connectivity and accelerate its continued core network transformation.
Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) in Assam has deployed IBM Cloud Pak for Automation as a part of its digital transformation journey. The solution aims to digitise the entire procurement cycle and enhance the overall security and efficiency of the procurement process.
Another interesting work is with Larsen & Toubro Infotech, where we help the company automate workflows and digitise enterprise-wide business processes. The customised solution comprises components like business process management, optical character recognition, operational decision management, enterprise content management, along with the add-on capabilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning, which can be integrated seamlessly.