Hyperautomation: the Latest Buzzword in IT?
Hyperautomation has become popular only recently, riding high on the success of RPA in the last couple of years.
written by Maria Irimias (RPA Service Delivery Manager & Solution Architect) and Andrei Stan (RPA Consultant) in the August 2022 issue of Today Software Magazine.
As professionals working in the IT field, we must be up to date with the latest technologies and everything that might perform well on the market. Frequently, we see different articles and posts promoting the most obscure programming languages and ways of reinventing the wheel. To no one's surprise, we often end up getting off track by getting lost in a bunch of meaningless terms. This being said, let's have a look at the importance of this new term.
Where Does This Term Come From (and What Does It Mean)?
As a concept, Hyperautomation has become popular only recently, riding high on the success of RPA in the last couple of years, mainly as a term being popularised by Gartner. This came up as a topic to easily integrate different technologies, tools and platforms to be able to satisfy different market needs. As such, we can compare this abstract IT notion to something we can better understand: a music festival. For it to be successful, it needs great artists, an impressive set and some “blinding lights”.
This is true in the case of Hyperautomation as well, the essentials here being different platforms that make development easier, Artificial Intelligence which allows you constant evolution and low/no code alternatives for an easier and faster way of creating applications.
As this concept is quite abstract, we often encounter issues when discussing software or applications that fall under this category. People will often try to slap this Hyperautomation tag on just about anything. This is either done due to a misunderstanding of the overall term or due to the desire to appear as cutting-edge in front of potential clients.
Due to these reasons, professionals seem to trivialise the domain as a whole, and they also attempt to apply these technologies to as many projects as possible, leading to devastating consequences and very few actual returns.
Looking at the biggest promoters of this idea, we can already reach some conclusions that only highlight the fact we need a better understanding of all these labels and terms. Seeing that UiPath has already changed the way they talk about the concept, now referring to it as “fully automated enterprises”, we can see that there is already a better branding need in place, although in theory, they are both the same thing.
The Importance of Hyperautomation in the Future of Corporations
When considering the ever-wider digitalisation of internal company processes, we can only consider Hyperautomation as a breath of fresh air in accomplishing this big change. It is also a great help in transforming these processes, seeing that many companies on the market follow archaic internal procedures that are hard to automate.
We often encounter such environments in the process of catching up to the 21st century standards in terms of IT know-how and in gaining the benefits from these technological transformations. Going from dozens of emails and employee conversations needed to analyse a contract or invoice, to three clicks to trigger a complex robot analysis and a few minutes to come up with the result.
Before jumping to conclusions, however, we need to take a step back, and see exactly what steps we need to take to get to the point where we collect all these benefits.
A macro-level analysis of the company needs to be done before we start any kind of automation within the corporation, so that we can map out a strategy to focus our efforts on. If this first phase yields a positive result, we can then move on to draw up a concrete plan to address the situation.
We will then proceed with a bottom-up analysis of the processes that shows us a concrete return-on-investment -represented in several ways, be it in cost, increased productive hours, or the reduction of errors and compliance issues and only after that point will we finally start implementing a solution.
We find that we spend more time initially on various discussions and meetings with our client representatives than on more traditional development projects. At the same time, 21st-century technology has advanced and allows us to automatically identify and optimise automation processes as a pre-development step with RPA, so this is great news to us.
From our various experiences in these implementations, we have found that this approach is more advantageous because our partners often need help transforming these processes. Thus, we can better understand their business needs and, in some cases, give them more informed advice.
Hyperautomation promises us gains on the time and trackability side of various data points within the company, which ultimately also ensures cost savings and eliminates some losses from the old/legacy processes.
The Viewpoint of An Implementor
It would be very easy to say, "This is the future!", but we must also be cautious. We will get nowhere if we rush into developments that could be better thought out. At the same time, we must maintain a delicate balance between transforming too few processes and programming something too ambitious, which will not bring our clients the expected returns at the end of the day.
As a company, we believe that change has to start with and from us, so as a first step towards this new way of looking at things, we have started to apply these principles from and for us. We have discovered how important it is to involve both technical people in transforming processes and non-technical representatives in sharing their knowledge on the topic. We achieve much better results by combining old and new technology with a relatively small investment of additional time.
Another possibility is the transformation of internal applications or software used internally using Hyperautomation. We can offer and think of various solutions to extend the functionality of these tools and save money through these transformations, managing to reduce the work of certain employees and freeing up their time from tasks of a different nature.
A Short Story About a Nifty Idea
In June, we joined ShipIt, our internal hackathon that meant 24 hours of coding and implementing technologies in various areas of interest, one of them being Hyperautomation.
We wanted to highlight the team's potential and, at the same time, bring value to us/the company through the proposed idea. We started our efforts with a few brainstorming sessions and inspired by some of the problems we had encountered in past projects; we realised that our work is largely made up of sessions. We decided to create a tool to help us in these meetings.
We started to define it as a process - what happens in a meeting - and this time, we manually identified and analysed each step. Following the analysis, we decided to automate one of the steps we discovered, namely meeting notes. So, we decided to create a smart assistant that would extract a transcript of the meetings our colleagues attend.
Since we wanted to present something a bit more complicated, we started thinking about how we could turn this concept into something more special. Developing the process using Power Automate, we looked at the technologies and possibilities offered by Microsoft through the various services they make available to developers.
After long deliberation, we extended the app's functionality by providing summaries of important ideas from meetings, sentiment analysis based on matters discussed, and automatic creation of tasks in Azure DevOps and assigning them to people involved in the project.
To be able to do all these, we chose to work with AI Builder, which allowed us to perform sentiment analysis and extraction of important phrases from the discussion. This service from Microsoft is highly versatile and can be trained on various samples quite easily and quickly. Thus, we could put less emphasis on this functionality in the few hours we had available, which is a great thing
We were also interested in showing the applicability of this idea for an IT company, so we started calculating the time saved by the various stakeholders who could use this tool. Since project managers generally take notes and set action points in meetings, they could be the main beneficiaries. Developers also often draw up their own notes, thus again identifying potential time savings.
We observe a rather novel application of Hyperautomation principles to solve a problem that some of us face daily. Thus, we can think of various solutions to difficulties we already face, whether related to a particular software or not. We can see how this technology can radically change the way we think about the way we do things, and it's something that is totally transformative.