Millions of businesses are using digital automation every day – and it is delivering serious benefits across industries. Whether you are at the beginning of your automation journey or have already ‘picked the low hanging fruits’ with this tech, it is always helpful to keep an eye on the future. To help you focus your automation goals in 2022, we’ve identified six trends you should be aware of in 2022.
6 trends in digital automation
There is no doubt that digital automation is catching on in enterprise IT. For instance, research shows that 20% of organizations had adopted robotic process automation (RPA) in 2021 – up from just 13% the year before.
Wherever you are on your automation journey, the following six trends can help inform your automation goals in the coming 12 months.
- An increase in sophistication
When many organizations begin using RPA, low code platforms, workflow solutions, or chatbots, their automation goals tend to be relatively restricted. They might, for instance, focus on automating one very common process – such as recording timesheet data. However, in 2022, we expect firms to increase the depth and complexity of the processes and activities they automate.
Example: Many companies began their automation journey with a simple use case such as marketing automation – sending out automated emails to different customer segments. But as automation technology becomes more entwined with the business, we can expect those simple automations to feed into much wider processes. In the future, marketing emails could be tied in with product development, customer support, and product aftercare – all as part of one sophisticated workflow.
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- Digital automation tools become a normal part of business
While digital automations will become more complex in 2022, we also expect them to become more widespread. Whether you are using RPA, business process automation, chatbots, low-code platforms, or something else, we expect these tools to be used more widely across the business. They will no longer just be restricted to IT or one trailblazing department – instead, they’ll be used across most of the organization.
- Automation goals accelerated by labor shortages
Across the global economy, there is an enormous shortage of labor, and many businesses are struggling to find the staff they need in a competitive market. Digital automation will help many companies address these staffing challenges.
Whether it is chatbots to help customers use your products, business process automation to make up for a lack of admin staff or low-code platforms to compensate for shortages in developers, the technology will help businesses adapt to a tight labor market.
- Hyperautomation will expand
Hyperautomation is a term used to describe the combination of two or more types of automation technology in a single solution. Most businesses that have deployed digital automation technologies so far currently use them independently of one another. But hyper-automation attempts to deliver better solutions by combining features of various technologies. Think chatbots that are integrated with your marketing automation software, or RPA which feeds data into your business process automation workflows.
Example: Imagine an RPA that could file customers’ cheques at a bank. This is useful, but it would still require someone to verify signatures on those cheques. What if the bank could use computer vision, a form of AI, to scan signatures on cheques against the customer’s original signature? By combining two kinds of automation, the solution suddenly becomes a lot more powerful.
- The cloud will become the de-facto place to host automation
As more and more businesses store documents and run processes in the cloud, it makes sense that digital automation will take place there too. Rather than investing in on-premises automation, companies will simply deploy them in the cloud.
This is particularly valuable because businesses can benefit from the scale and power of cloud technologies. With almost no limits to computing power, the ability to connect multiple cloud environments, and access to the most advanced AI tools, businesses can really set their automation goals as high as they want.
- A rise in ‘human-in-the-loop’ solutions
For much of the last decade, the narrative around digital automation was that it would ‘steal’ humans’ jobs. But in 2022 we expect that automation will require more human input.
Known as ‘human in the loop’ (HITL) solutions, these automations require humans to verify tasks the technology has performed, make decisions, and direct subsequent actions. It will be somewhat similar to a manager working with a very junior employee, checking work is correct then directing the next stages.
A particular benefit of ‘human in the loop’ automation is that it will allow businesses to really scale digital automation. Because staff will be verifying the technology’s work, then making decisions about how to proceed, automation can be applied to far more complex problems.
Example: Many of today’s chatbots struggle with anything more than ‘basic’ requests. But, by putting a human in the loop, a member of staff can ‘help’ the chatbot understand a customer’s written question and direct it onto the next stages.
What are your automation goals for 2022?
Digital automation is transforming all kinds of industries and helping organizations respond to a highly complex and fast-changing business environment. So, how will your organization tap into these trends in 2022?