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Expert Insights

The 6 Automation Trends That Will Dominate 2022

For many businesses, the past year has been both challenging and transformational. With business leaders expanding their automation deployments to build long-term resilience and better meet the needs of their customers and partners, adoption of the technology shows no signs of slowing in the new year. In 2022, automation will accelerate across the enterprise and give way to businesses embracing new hybrid workforce models and emerging technologies. We’ve identified six trends set to gain major momentum in 2022, and what they mean for your organization.

Transforming Human Resources Management

2021 saw human resources teams adopting RPA to streamline clunky processes like payroll, report generation, and the collation of data from disparate HR systems into a single source for employee information. 2022 will see the rise of HR professionals taking a broader view of automation’s role in the workforce, tasked with enabling the coexistence of employees and their digital counterparts. This includes combating the impact of the ongoing labor shortage by using RPA bots to screen applicants, identify top talent, and onboard employees faster. At the organizational level, it means creating a workplace culture where a hybrid human-digital workforce is the norm and employees at every level embrace automation. This will require HR leaders to develop upskilling and reskilling programs to train everyday employees how to work most effectively with their robot assistants, while reimagining their hiring strategy for the next generation.

Establishing Your Head of RPA

We’ve written before about the emergence of the Chief Automation Officer, a C-suite figure who enables digital transformation while providing a comprehensive view of how process automation is impacting the business as a whole. According to a recent Gartner report, over 80% of organizations say they plan to continue or increase their automation spending this year. With investment on the rise, executive teams must ensure it’s being allocated strategically. 2022 will give rise to more organizations adding a CAO or similar role to develop enterprise-level roadmaps for automation strategy, governance, and technology integration. Whether it be a Chief Transformation Officer, Chief Information Officer, or Chief Data Officer; this individual will play a key role in catalyzing the growth of RPA and AI within the enterprise. Along with harnessing emerging technologies to drive operational effectiveness, the head of automation will be responsible for building and supporting an automation center of excellence, establishing robust governance protocols, ensuring executive visibility, and redistributing knowledge and resources across future deployments. As the automation revolution continues sweeping across industries, establishing a head of automation now is imperative to organizations staying ahead of the curve.

Process Mining for Business Continuity

Last year’s global shift to remote work exposed a serious need for the use of process mining technology with RPA. Facing the looming possibility that key workers may be unable to carry out their jobs – either due to remote working conditions or the risk of falling ill, business leaders scrambled to figure out how to ensure steps within critical business workflows could still be performed. Businesses using RPA may still have gaps in their existing process and reporting documentation, making it difficult to understand the current state of the workflow which can slow down key business functions and reporting capabilities during times of crisis. By using process and task mining tools to obtain critical process information, organizations can be more prepared to determine which process steps can be automated and which existing automations can be improved upon. The insights delivered through process mining can also help these organizations update their business continuity plans so their processes face less risk of being compromised in times of crisis.

Bringing in AI Capabilities for Document Processing

In the past, challenges with machine learning model building and the costs of ML talent have limited the potential for AI in the enterprise. Looking into 2022, companies looking to get more value from AI can overcome these traditional barriers with the use of intelligent document processing (IDP) technologies. Document understanding tools – platforms equipped with pre-trained ML models for document processing – can can businesses derive value from various document types and process their data as part of broader end-to-end automations. These tools enable companies to easily deploy AI-enabled automations for common business documents like invoices, receipts, purchase orders, contracts, and more. Out-of-the-box solutions like this can make AI more accessible to businesses whose automation teams have less data science expertise, while allowing them to retrain the ML models to improve their accuracy over time. While banks and insurance organizations have been the largest adopters of IDP, 2022 will see government and public sector organizations harnessing the technology driven by an increased need to improve efficiency and compliance in handling the unprecedented volumes of documents.

Citizen Development

2022 will be the year businesses unleash the power of citizen developers. These employees – non-technical users who create simple automations for themselves and their department, are your secret weapon in scaling automation. While a company’s executives and transformation leads identify and roll out advanced automations across the organization, citizen developers provide organizations a grassroots-level perspective for smaller, more targeted automation opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed. Since these users have firsthand knowledge of the critical workflows carried out in their departments each day, they’re able to spot inefficiencies and areas of their processes that could be improved with automation. As discussed in our article on the automation flywheel, this crowdsourcing approach to automation candidates helps RPA scale across the enterprise with greater agility. Given the self-sustaining nature of this model and the momentum it creates for RPA at scale, the citizen developer revolution is set to be a key driver of transformation in the new year.

Nearshoring Automation Resources

For enterprises looking to scale their RPA deployments with top-tier international talent while keeping costs lean, nearshoring is proving to be a strategic choice. Latin American countries such as Colombia and Costa Rica are burgeoning tech hubs and boast large, educated IT workforces that continue to steadily grow. For businesses using RPA resources in Latin America, this means receiving the same quality and efficiency they would from an all-onshore team, delivered at significantly lower costs than what customers would pay for a project executed entirely onshore. For enterprises seeking dedicated automation support, some of the top RPA services providers have already established operations across the globe to offer greater depth of coverage for automation managed services. One of 2022’s top strategic trends, businesses will begin using a blend of onshore, offshore, and nearshore resources to ensure cost-effectiveness and lean delivery timelines.

 

There you have it – the automation trends predicted to dominate the new year. Need guidance with your 2022 automation strategy? Let’s talk.