How automation and AI can be used to improve business resilience today

Members of IDG’s Influencer Network weigh in on the transformative power of these two technologies.

istock 1295900106 2
iStock

How automation and AI can be used to improve business resilience today

Members of IDG’s Influencer Network weigh in on the transformative power of these two technologies.

As a recent article on CIO.com observed, the pandemic “has seen accelerated interest in process automation as organizations have scrambled to overhaul business processes and double down on digital transformations in response to disruptions brought about by COVID-19. And for IT leaders stepping into or already steeped in such modernization efforts, artificial intelligence — mainly in the form of machine learning — holds the promise to revolutionize automation, pushing them closer to their end-to-end process automation dreams.”

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI): The combination of these two transformative technologies has IT leaders setting their sights on some pretty lofty goals. Robotic process automation leader UiPath has characterized RPA and AI as “two of the most transformative technologies the world has ever known. But bringing AI and RPA together unleashes even more of their potential.”

While it may take some time for dreams of “end-to-end process automation” to come true, important work to bring automation and AI together is already under way. So how can automation and AI be used to improve business resilience today? For some answers, we turned to members of the IDG Influencer Network, a community of industry analysts, IT professionals, and journalists.

While their viewpoints were varied, Isaac Sacolick (@nyike), President of StarCIO, bestselling author, and digital transformation influencer, spoke for many when he said, “To be resilient today, operations needs a new playbook to support the required service-level objectives, process insights from data complexities, and enable employees to focus on customer experiences and growth. That playbook must include AI and machine learning to process data, make predictions, and aid subject matter experts in making informed decisions while freeing up people’s time by automating repeatable tasks.”

Like many of the Influencers, Frank Cutitta (@fcutitta), CEO and Founder of HealthTech Decisions Lab, said the turmoil caused by the pandemic has made informed automated decision making more challenging than ever.

“The term ‘new normal’ implies that some sense of stability is on its way,” he noted. “But knowing what that normal will be will require analytics that tap into an exponential number of new what-if situations driven by a multitude of factors like government regulations, a distributed workforce, and public health restrictions. While resilience should be a key goal, the next generation of automation and AI will focus on the complexities of the ‘anti-fragility’ of things that not only gain from chaos but need it to survive and flourish. Thriving on chaos is not a prolific talent among humans, so we will increasingly rely on technology to leverage it and gain competitive advantage from it.”

“Over the last year with COVID-19 we have all experienced plenty of problems,” added Jeff Kagan (@jeffkagan), a wireless analyst. “Now, as we come out of the pandemic, we are experiencing new problems. Getting workers back to the office, for example. New technology like automation and AI can be used to strengthen the weak areas every business faces. Technology does not get sick and always shows up to work every day. Because of this fact, I see automation and AI continuing to grow.”

Scott Schober (@ScottBVS), President and CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems Inc., observed that, with economies shifting in response to pandemic challenges daily, the only certainty is that nothing is certain in these times.

“Businesses must future-proof by leveraging emerging technologies,” he said. “When used ethically and thoughtfully, automation and AI are a powerful combination that can build business resilience and mitigate risk. In so many verticals, humans are both the problem and the solution, and here it is no different. So businesses need to remove the human element for repetitive and normally time-consuming tasks to make way for AI‘s own economies of scale. Likewise, deploying human capital where AI fails to utilize intuition and imagination is vital to global industries. This delicate hand-off from AI to human workers must be monitored and adjusted as needed in order to stay competitive in a dominant market position.”

The need for immediate decision making was also noted by Alvin Foo (@alvinfoo), co-founder of DAOventures.

“Automation and artificial intelligence will mean that more decisions will be made without the need for human intervention,” he said. “Humans are often the weaker link as they have to understand information, balance judgments, make decisions, and then be prepared to act swiftly as the event unfolds. In the future, much of this immediate decision-making process will be made by machines, thus improving business resilience exponentially.”

Larry Larmeu (@LarryLarmeu), an enterprise technology leader, said that when people think of operational resilience they generally think of systems, applications, and infrastructure.

“But the more manual your processes are, the more reliant you are on human intervention to move work along,” he continued. “By using automation and AI to reduce the reliance on people in operational processes, you can increase your resilience, decrease risk, and reduce costs. This also allows you to reallocate valuable subject matter experts to positions where they can use their knowledge and experience to improve existing processes and find new ways to differentiate from your competitors.”

Bolstering disaster recovery

Several Influencers cited the key role automation and AI can play in bolstering disaster recovery planning and capabilities.

“CIOs should urgently make use of automation and AI to ensure cloud migration and effective disaster recovery policies,” said Elitsa Krumova (@Eli_Krumova), a technology influencer. “The adoption of intelligent automation and robotic process automation should be the main focus for CIOs in the current unstable situation. The deployment of disaster recovery solutions and assuring disaster management, in my opinion, should also be a top priority for CIOs in 2021.”

“A core functionality of business resiliency requires testing of one’s disaster recovery policies and procedures,” said Jason James (@itlinchpin), the CIO at Net Health. “Automation can be used to build out those disaster recovery environments as well as test those environments to ensure they are available and ready in the event of a disaster.”

“Automation is undoubtedly playing a role to support backup, recovery, and related operations tasks in today’s hybrid cloud environments,” added Will Kelly (@willkelly), technical marketing manager for a container security startup.

In closing, Gene De Libero (@GeneDeLibero), Chief Strategy Officer at Geekhive, said that automation and AI have been a challenge to implement and scale for many organizations. To improve business resilience using automation and AI, he said organizations need to start small, define specific business problems to be solved, and plan to scale, and he cited healthcare as an example.

“Automation and AI can enhance telehealth by reviewing patient records and other data to make treatment recommendations specific to that patient to optimize value-based patient care while maximizing efficiency for the provider,” he said. “As organizational AI and automation capabilities evolve, patients could have transparent access to their medical histories, billing information, appointment scheduling, and reminders, improving the patient experience and reducing administrative costs.”

To learn more about the transformative power of automation and AI, go here.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.