The Future Of Automation In The Enterprise

A Recap Of The U.S. Intelligent Automation Exchange 2019

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Steven Lerner

Upon entering the inaugural Intelligent Automation Exchange in the United States, there was a clear and common sentiment among the enterprise IT executives.

“The robots are coming soon. It’s time to catch up and automate.”

Thankfully, as the Exchange progressed, the mindset evolved. During the two-day gathering in Miami from June 11 to June 12, a slate of knowledgeable and respected industry leaders educated the audience about the realities of automation, and provided information about how to successfully deploy these technologies.

Here’s a recap of the 2019 U.S. Intelligent Automation Exchange.

Change Can Be Good

Setting the mood for this informative Exchange was the task of the opening keynote speaker, Google’s Chief Decision Scientist Cassie Kozyrkov.

“Change can be uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, our story is about moving forward,” said Kozyrkov. “AI is a part of [that change].”

Kozyrkov explained that humanity’s history is an entire story of automation, with humans constantly using new tools to augment processes. Accordingly, science fiction stories depicting the dangers of automation only serve as a dangerous distraction.

“This isn’t about scary sci-fi robots,” said Kozyrkov. “It’s about unlocking communications. We should be excited about it.”

During the opening presentation, Kozykrov analyzed why some businesses fail to capitalize on artificial intelligence (AI), largely because of unrealistic expectations that complicate efforts. Kozykrov even simplified AI and machine learning by comparing automation to cooking (i.e. ingredients are data, recipes are algorithms).

To wrap up the presentation, Kozykrov provided examples of attainable use cases of AI in the enterprise, such as checking to see if baby food is safe, and telling the difference between snow or clouds in photographs.

Successful AI Case Studies

During the Intelligent Automation Exchange, delegates observed two successful case studies involving AI.

Dr. A. Jay Khanna, a spine surgeon and professor of orthopedic surgery at John Hopkins, discussed how AI and robotics were used to augment spine surgery. Although there are still areas that need improvement, the surgical accuracy rates from the technology has been promising. Automation, however, is still non-existent in spine surgery.

Director of AI Products Farah Gasmi of insurance firm Argo Group delivered a presentation about how the organization used data and AI to optimize risk selection and management. Overall, the insurance industry is a prolific adopter of AI. From chatbots to software that detects insurance fraud, AI is everywhere in this sector.

Gasmi recapped what Argo Grouo has learned about the past few years of using AI. There was also a summary of suggestions, such as building actionable decision tools, considering full stack teams, ensure that data science is agile, and to scale iteratively.

The Future Of Work

To help prepare executives for the future of work, a bevy of leading analysts addressed the Exchange about the latest industry trends and predictions for the future.

Michel Janssen, chief research guru for Everest Group, said that the benefit from robotic process automation (RPA) goes beyond cost savings, with tremendous value achieved in operational metrics. Additionally, Janssen expects more consolidation and acquisition in the RPA space, and hopes that enterprises focus on adopting RPA for the right reasons.

“It’s not about the technology, it’s about the business outcome,” said Janssen.

Carlton E. Sapp, senior director analyst for Gartner, advised delegates on several key enterprise technology trends, such as “connected intelligence” through the expansion of IoT devices. Sapp also suggested that going to the cloud is not always cost-effective, and to avoid using a “technology first” strategy.

Holly Muscolino, vice president of research for IDC, discussed the rapid changes of work during a presentation. In a few years, certain tasks done by humans are likely to be done by machines. Despite this outlook, Muscolini cited an IDC study that found optimism regarding any job impacts.

During her presentation, Muscolino said that digital transformation is “clearly real” and that companies experimenting with digital transformation initiatives need to scale. This includes helping workers with technology.

“Workers need to be able to securely access corporate resources, collaborate, and contribute,” said Muscolino.

Continuing on the topic of digital transformation, Muscolino clarified that “digitization [in itself] is not the transformation,” as organizations really do need to have a cultural reboot. Enterprises are always in the danger of creating siloed solutions. Leaders must embrace innovation and digital transformation on an enterprise level.

“You need a leader who is going to embrace change, and it needs to be in the DNA of the company, in order to change and have a competitive advantage,” said Muscolino.

After two days of informative sessions and think tanks, delegates at the 2019 U.S. Intelligent Automation Exchange gained a better understanding about overcoming key challenges with improved solutions.