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Can Automation & AI be a Corporate Function Just Like HR and IT?

As automation & AI technologies evolve, we see different operating models being utilized in many organizations. At a high level, these are the operating models we see:

  • Business Unit aligned Automation Projects (Some may call them “Shadow IT” or “Rouge IT” Groups)
  • Business Unit aligned Automation Projects with IT Governance
  • Automation Projects within IT Groups

It gets even more interesting with organizations that are introducing AI initiatives. The organization structures seem to be even more fragmented:

  • C-Suites and Finance Organizations interested in deeper analytics in budgeting and forecasting are spawning off silo data science teams along with their business intelligence counterparts
  • Limited budget corporate innovation teams being formed and are tasked to evangelize all sorts of new technologies, not just Automation and AI (For e.g. IOT, Blockchain, AR/VR, AI, etc.). In many cases, focus and corporate mandates can be issues here
  • These days, most Enterprise Software Vendors are claiming AI capabilities within their products (even legacy products), and some of the silo AI initiatives may be redundant efforts yielding limited or no ROI

We have also seen a much more strategic approach with some of the larger organizations and how they view AI and Automation as not just tactical projects but as much wider and strategic “Programs” which will fundamentally transform their business in the near future. In our AI White Paper, we have talked about the fact that the fundamental promise of AI is to help businesses solve their “Prediction” and “Reasoning/Decision Making” problems within their business analytics, processes and workflows. Those who adopt early and take a longer view of these technologies will be able to compete just the way companies did decades ago; the ones who adapted IT as a corporate function early on differentiated themselves and the ones that transformed themselves for the Internet early on were able to differentiate and grow.

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With that in mind, we see an evolution of AI and automation groups that are aligned to business, governed by IT and reporting into the C-Suite. The AI and automation programs must be mandated and staffed with clear business goals of agility by using automation and product/service differentiation using the AI technologies. Automation and AI are progressive technologies, hence organizations must take a longer-term view of these technologies.

Some of the most successful companies in the world including Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, etc. made huge bets on AI a long time ago and clearly see their differentiation in the market today. Obviously, these are technology companies, but they have set the bar for the rest of the business world. The question is: Will the 10 largest Global Banks, Global Insurance companies, or any other large company be in the same position 10 years down the road as compared to where they are now? There is no doubt that those who institutionalize these Automation and AI technologies early on will have a clear advantage.