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Artificial Intelligence Will Enable Self-Service Capabilities for Enterprise Automation in 2019

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by Anthony Macciola, Chief Innovation Officer, ABBYY
Within the past two years we’ve seen digital transformation dramatically impact businesses around the world. In the realm of enterprise automation, we saw AI emerge as an impactful technology promising significant automation gains – in 2017 AI gained traction in the IT department, and during 2018 we saw its entry into boardrooms. Moving into 2019, we will see AI combined with mobility and content understanding change entire workflows and processes within organizations, offices and factory floors. This requires not only transformation in IT strategy, but also in skills, recruitment and corporate attitudes. One of the most impactful technology trends we will see in 2019 is broad enterprise technology transition to self-service models. Following are the specific predictions on how this will happen.

  1. Digital transformation will spike innovations using machine learning, natural language processing and language-based technologies to enhance customer experiences while optimizing back office operations.
  2. AI will be incorporated into daily business activities at record speed. The explosion and ease of robotic process automation (RPA), integration with mobile devices and intelligent automation will make AI more accessible and consumable to the enterprise in 2019 with true business benefits.
  3. RPA projects will transition from evaluation and pilot deployments to mainstream production deployments. Additionally, its growth will expand beyond innovation teams and centers of excellence into mainstream intelligent automation across the entire enterprise.
  4. RPA growth will continue to escalate as organizations transition its use from the back-office for operational efficiency to driving revenue with customer-facing applications.
  5. Corporate users are now eager to let robots take over. After panic of robots taking over their jobs have subsided, business users will initiate opportunities for digital workers to handle mundane, repetitive, manual tasks so they can focus on more cognitive and strategic work. Organizations and employees will celebrate and embrace the emergence of digital workers supporting their day-to-day job functions.
  6. Self-service capabilities will become available for enterprise content, such as extracting semantic insight and structure, thus enabling automation projects to quickly and easily process and understand any type of content. 
  7. The ability to discover, analyze and predict optimal data movement throughout an organization will mature and become a value-add capability as organizations automate various parts of their business.
  8. The historic trend to outsource will be reversed and organizations will take processing back in-house along with entertaining various crowd-sourcing platforms.
  9. The Internet-of-Things will offer organizations valuable content about customer behavior, machine metrics and market trends that will drive a need for content intelligence solutions and services. 
  10. Lastly, we predict that 2019 will be the year of the ‘skill’ and will be one of the primary enablers in the transition to self-service technology. The momentum around the concept of “skills” as a method, model, or approach to packing up discrete functionality and making them readily accessible with little to no effort by a host. A host can be an automation platform, system of engagement, content management platform, or line of business application.

Our predictions anticipate the trend towards self-service adoption where enterprise technologies and automation capabilities become easier to train, more effective to use, and consumed and deployed by users. We’ve seen this transition occur before, when major platforms became too cumbersome to use, update, or evolve, and were eventually replaced and eclipsed by self-service alternatives. For example:

  • Enterprise Content Management (ECM): In its heyday it had broad enterprise adoption but it’s penetration into or throughout the enterprise was small and was eventually eclipsed by Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions like Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, etc.
  • Business Process Automation (BPM): At its prime it had broad enterprise adoption but limited penetration throughout the enterprise, and is now in the process of being eclipsed by RPA. While BPM was deployed to solve the insurance claims adjudication problem, individual claims adjusters were stuck with the processes and tasks controlled by the BPM platform. We are seeing these users driving faster adoption of intelligent automation to support their tasks with digital workers. 
  • Enterprise Capture: At its peak it had moderate enterprise adoption, but limited penetration throughout the enterprise. It is currently moving from high volume batch-centric subsystems to discrete services that can be readily incorporated and adopted throughout the enterprise with minimal effort and training. Ultimately, many of the historic capabilities associated with capture are being componentized and simplified resulting in capture moving to a self-service model.
  • Hybrid Mobile Applications: Commonly available today, native mobile applications require a significant investment by an organization. We’re seeing organizations transition to hybrid or browser-based (zero footprint) mobile applications that (to the user) are hard to distinguish from a native application. This transition provides the benefits of maintaining optimal user experiences while dramatically reducing the development investment, thus allowing the adoption of mobility to expand throughout the organization and impact additional use cases that native mobile application haven’t had a chance to penetrate as of yet. Ultimately, many of the historic investments and dependencies associated with native mobile applications are being eliminated and simplified resulting in mobility moving to an organizational or departmental self-service model.

2019 is set to be an explosive year for enterprise automation, and should result in the maturation and broad adoption of a variety of exciting technologies and capabilities.
Anthony Macciola is Chief Innovation Officer at ABBYY, a global provider of content intelligence services and solutions. He holds more than 45 patents for technologies in mobility, text analytics, image processing, and process automation, and is spearheading AI initiatives at ABBYY. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Haystac, and is also a Board member for AIIM.

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