An Introduction to the Automation Landscape & 2020 Trends

Have you come across the term “Hyperautomation” in 2020? Gartner introduced the locution last year as one of the strategic 2020 technology trends. Conceptually it is nothing but to say that automation needs a more integrated approach to implementation from a technology perspective. It is not a single technology, but a combination of automation tools needed to drive any such “Hyperautomation” initiatives.

It can become really confusing when the marketing engines of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) vendors start to push the idea of Hyperautomation that it is largely driven by RPA and that RPA is at the centre of Hyperautomation digital transformation (DX) initiatives. Gartner admits that this is simply not the case and there are other major automation tools such as intelligent business process management suites (iBPMSs), and integration platform as a service (iPaaS) that can equally drive DX ambitions.

Keeping aside the RPA hype, the confusion also comes with the notion that where you start to define new terms like Hyperautomation, with the sole idea behind it to combine different automation technologies, would these automation technologies and tools always need to be combined together? Or can they individually drive different “innovation streams” from a DX perspective producing individual outcomes?

This idea of Innovation streams is a powerful concept established in  Lead and Disrupt – How to Solve Innovators Dilemma which talks about the need for different levels of innovations to be taken up by organisations simultaneously in order to compete in both existing mature as well as new emerging technologies and markets.

The first stream is through Incremental Innovation where existing products and services are made faster, better, and cheaper. The improvements are drawn on an existing set of capabilities and along a known trajectory.

The second innovation stream could be either through Radical Innovation due to major or discontinuous change caused by technological advancements, or Business Model Innovation due to discontinuous changes in market conditions. This second level requires a different knowledge base from what already exists in an organisation and thus demands a level of investment and change.

There could be a third stream where innovation happens due to improvements in how existing technologies or components are integrated together referred to as Architectural Innovation.

When we look at the current automation landscape and emerging trends in 2020 from the lenses of innovation, as depicted in the table below, we can see these different innovation streams taking shape driven by different factors, producing different benefits or outcomes, and having their own unique attributes and challenges.

These streams may overlap or complement each other, but that does not mean that one is at the centre and is driving the other streams out. In fact, the Incremental and Radical Innovation streams require very different implementation approaches. Feel free to refer to our article RPA Plan Phase – Process Identification for an insight into our top-down bottom-up approaches.

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