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Welcome to the official blog of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

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Intelligent Automation: Overcoming Challenges for Seamless Implementation

In the ever-evolving landscape of technological advancements, intelligent automation stands out as a beacon of opportunity for businesses seeking enhanced efficiency and resiliency. Recognized as the top strategic tech trend by Gartner, this revolutionary approach is set to redefine the corporate landscape. Its significance is underscored by the fact that it is poised to outshine traditional rule-based Robotic Process Automation (RPA) thanks to its infusion with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. While companies are already experiencing a range of benefits from intelligent automation, it is essential to recognize and address the hurdles that slow down the adoption process.

The Power of Intelligent Automation

Intelligent automation is already reshaping businesses in profound ways. It empowers companies to process vast volumes of structured and unstructured data, boosting worker productivity, enhancing operational efficiency, reducing costs, and enabling employees to focus on high-value, strategic tasks. A significant shift is evident in the adoption rate of intelligent automation, as 73% of senior executives report that their organizations have embarked on the path to leverage its capabilities. This marks a dramatic leap from a mere 16% in 2019. Yet, despite this widespread recognition of its significance, many organizations find themselves unable to transition beyond the pilot stage.

The Challenges Ahead

While intelligent automation promises an array of benefits, organizations are often faced with challenges that slow down the process of implementation. These challenges demand attention and a strategic approach to harness the full potential of intelligent automation.

  1. Fragmented Processes: Implementing intelligent automation goes beyond merely automating existing processes. Organizations today operate numerous processes, many of which are fragmented across various functional departments or divisions. Often, crucial business processes extend beyond organizational boundaries, affecting multiple functions. Unfortunately, these processes are typically isolated, with documents or data passed to the next department without a seamless flow. Intelligent automation can play a pivotal role in streamlining these fragmented processes, enabling lean and cost-efficient operations at higher speeds and with 100% accuracy. However, for this transformation to occur, the involvement of employees who are intimately familiar with these processes is imperative.
  2. Lack of IT Readiness: Unlike traditional RPA, intelligent automation demands robust IT support. It requires substantial computing and storage resources, most of which are based in the cloud for scalability and capacity. This transition necessitates a partnership with, if not collaboration from, a fully prepared IT team well-versed in cloud infrastructure.
  3. Employee Resistance to Change: The success of intelligent automation relies on more than just technology; it hinges on the human factor. Organizations must consider how changes to roles, processes, and methods of operation will impact their employees. Unfortunately, even organizations that are scaling intelligent automation, as reported by Deloitte, tend to overlook this essential aspect. Neglecting the human element and focusing solely on technology is a shortsighted approach. Instead, a holistic strategy is required, emphasizing employee resiliency and adaptability. Over half of enterprises surveyed by Deloitte are providing retraining in both process skills like active listening and critical thinking and cognitive abilities such as creativity and problem-solving.
  4. Lack of a Clear Vision: Successful implementation of intelligent automation requires a well-defined strategy and vision. Many organizations approach intelligent automation in a fragmented manner, often led by IT or business units without an overarching strategy. According to Deloitte, only 26% of companies piloting automation, and 38% of those implementing and scaling, have an enterprise-wide intelligent automation strategy. To overcome this challenge, organizations need the active involvement and sponsorship of the C-Suite and the establishment of a federated model of intelligent automation governance. This model involves a centralized Center of Excellence (CoE) responsible for setting standards and providing guidance to business units engaged in specific initiatives.

A Path to Success

Intelligent automation is an ongoing journey that offers immense potential. By addressing these challenges proactively, businesses can unlock the full power of this transformative technology. Organizations can drive successful intelligent automation initiatives and gain a competitive edge by actively engaging the C-suite, fostering a culture of collaboration, and creating a clear vision.

In Conclusion

Intelligent automation holds the promise of significant benefits for businesses. However, overcoming the challenges associated with its implementation is essential for reaping its rewards. By taking a strategic and holistic approach, organizations can navigate the hurdles and fully embrace the transformative potential of intelligent automation in a rapidly evolving business landscape.

Amol Kakade
Amol Kakade
Amol Kakade is a technical program manager for intelligent automation at Intel Corporation for the Operational Analytics and Automation group. He has expertise in leading, strategizing, and end-to-end delivering the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) & Intelligent Automation projects from process capturing to process execution and sustainability. He is passionate about exploring and implementing new automation platforms where artificial intelligence can be blended well with RPA. He has authored publications in the "International Numeric Journal of Machine Learning and Robot" as well as the "International Journal of Machine Learning of Sustainable Development." He is a senior member of IEEE and ISA.

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