Top intelligent automation trends for 2023: growth in the face of uncertainty 

by Dan Ternes, CTO APAC, SS&C Blue Prism


Leaders from the global SS&C Blue Prism team predict the following trends will become key priorities in 2023: 

  • Building the right workplace culture
  • Unified workforces: The rise of human-digital collaboration
  • Growing demands will make smart CX a key priority area
  • Federated development as the operational standard
  • IA integration to unlock untapped value
  • Mass adoption of cloud-enabled technologies
  • The rise of organized citizen development and flexible demands
  • Generative AI driving forward digital-first operations
  • Resilience and cost reduction rather than transformation

While many of us had planned to be focused on post-pandemic growth by this point, the past year has proven challenging, with economic turmoil and market volatility in the face of supply chain issues, political conflicts, and talent acquisition and retention difficulties.

Going into 2023, organizations and enterprises the world over will turn to the resilience and efficiency building capabilities of intelligent automation (IA), using the application of robotic process automation (RPA) to mitigate the worst impacts, free up resources, and even facilitate innovation and growth.

Enterprises realize the value of advanced technology in helping them navigate the turbulent times ahead, so much so that the Australia government has pledged $312 million on essential aged IT care and maintenance over the next four years. Additionally, Gartner still forecasts worldwide IT spending will grow 5.1% in 2023, with an 11.3% increase on software specifically.

To help organizations achieve IA success, leaders from the global SS&C Blue Prism team predict the following trends will become key priorities in 2023.

1.      Building the right workplace culture

Organizational culture plays a critical role in the success of any digital transformation initiative. Workers are the heart of an organization, so without their buy in, no digital transformation initiative stands a chance of success. Workers drive home business objectives, and when it comes to digital transformation, they are the ones using, implementing, and sometimes building automations. Curiosity, innovation, and the willingness to take risks are essential ingredients to transformative digitalization.

Businesses are increasingly recognizing that their workers play an instrumental role in determining whether digitalization initiatives are successful. Fostering the right work environment will be a key focus point for the year ahead – not only to cultivate buy-in but also to improve talent retention and acquisition, as labor supply issues are predicted to continue into 2023 and beyond.

2.      Unified workforces: The rise of human-digital collaboration

2022 has demonstrated that some organisations can reap the bottom-line benefits of AI. However, for all companies to leverage AI in 2023, the rise of human and digital worker collaboration is vital for a successful outcome.

AI’s increasing prominence will mean human-digital collaboration will take center stage. When AI is combined with the application of RPA and business process management (BPM), workflows are transformed as human and digital workers collaborate, serving complementary roles. Organizations can map out and manage end-to-end processes using BPM, with AI-driven RPA executing routine tasks along the way, while humans focus on complex or out-of-the-ordinary tasks. A seamless blend of the human and digital workforce will become more of a reality, as organizations continue realizing more of the tangible benefits of this transformative approach. The federal government in Australia now estimates that 87% of today’s jobs require digital literacy and 250,000 new jobs are going to be created in the coming years thanks to automation.

3.      Growing demands will make smart CX a key priority area

There has been expanded interest in customer experience in the last few years, driven largely by the pandemic, which forced many organizations to ramp up their digital transformations, and give CX a digital-first focus. In 2022, customer experience (CX) was the fastest-growing priority area for customer care leaders. Going into 2023, not only will this continue, but it will also push the need for digitalization to meet the growing demands and expectations of customers – who will expect high levels of convenience and personalization, all of which can only be delivered with the support of AI, ML, and data analytics.

4.      Federated development as the operational standard

Intelligent automation has become imperative for businesses’ long-term viability. However, skills gaps and difficulties with talent acquisition, including attracting talent and increasing costs for highly skilled technologists, have made it a struggle to gain the full benefits of digital transformation. According to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends, 65% of Australian IT decision makers think that their main business threat is the current talent shortage. This has led to the search for robust operating models that facilitate digitalization amid a lack of resources, including citizen development (see number 7 below) and federated development.

Expect to see this become a widespread trend facilitated by centers of excellence (CoEs) and vast improvements in low- and no-code capabilities (see number 9 below). CoEs will continue to serve a governance and oversight role, establishing best practices and sourcing tech vendors. However, we will increasingly see training, implementation, and even development within business units.

5.      IA integration to unlock untapped value

One of the biggest obstacles organizations have observed in their digital transformation journeys is a lack of coordination, leading to haphazard development and siloed data. This prevents IA from being integrated throughout the organization – across departments, processes, and tasks. To capitalize on the full benefits of IA requires enterprise-wide scale, which is only facilitated by complete integration of a comprehensive intelligent automation platform. Businesses are realizing the need to break down barriers, let data move across the organization, and enable automations to operate across the business if they want to maximize value and achieve returns on investments faster.

So, going into 2023, expect an increase in demand for platforms that offer a comprehensive portfolio of advanced technologies that enable streamlined integration. Departments will no longer only have ownership over one advanced technology, instead, IA platforms will be used like a toolbox – using the best tool or tools for a given situation. Integration will also enable workers to have access to the right data when they need it, thanks to cross-departmental barriers being broken down. Integration is essential to effective digitalization, so with this trend we will see new levels of value, efficiency, and productivity unleashed.

6.      Mass adoption of cloud-enabled technologies

Customers are demanding more intelligent and digital services, delivered in real time. To maintain long-term competitiveness, it will be critical for organizations to foster agility, scale, and speed, all while still improving the bottom line. Cloud-enabled technologies’ inherent speed, scalability, and value-creating abilities are drawing the attention of enterprises. 2022 saw the spend on the cloud in Australia reaching $18.7 billion and this is going to continue to rise.

Traditional financial players in particular are widely positioned to embrace the benefits of cloud tech in 2023. Increasing competition from the rise of fintech and challenger banks along with the growth of remote operations, have made cloud-enabled technologies essential in this sector. The agility, scalability, and reduced costs are another key draw going into 2023, amid financial volatility and ever-changing consumer preferences and demands. So, expect some cloudy days in 2023.

7.      The rise of organized citizen development and flexible demands

“The Great Resignation” and “quiet quitting” – two terms many are familiar with (the former refers to the substantial number of employees who have been resigning their roles, and the latter refers to the trend of employees doing the minimum work required). These terms reflect a culture of burnout and a general desire for better work-life balance. Businesses are facing substantial challenges related to skills gaps and talent retention and acquisition. High-tech workers are in short supply and, as a result, costly.

2023 is the time to refocus and reset the way of working to focus on the amazing tasks humans can perform and the agility, resilience, and sustainability they can bring to more fulfilling roles. Many businesses are looking for ways to democratize development and create automation-enabled workflows.

With just a bit of training, business users or technologists – employees that use tech or analytics skills outside of the IT team – can build applications that drive productivity. The key is to engage in organized citizen development practices and make sure business technologists turned developers are given redefined roles that enable them to focus sufficiently on development. The problem is that, without sufficient training as well as some IT involvement, development is likely to be inefficient, redundant, and unimpactful. Employers must additionally meet the flexible demands of employees. However, there are no flexible demands from customers. Therefore, employees must reach a balance to exceed the high levels of customer service for 2023.

8.      Generative AI driving forward digital-first operations

The next big shift in artificial intelligence – a component of IA – is undoubtedly generative AI. In the last 12 months alone, we have seen extraordinary advancements in AI’s ability to turn text into…almost anything.

We have seen AI generate images, code, and even applications from text. With these developments, we can say that “text to automation,” using generative AI is just around the corner, with the first commercially available offering to appear on the market in 2023. Welcome to the age of AI-developed digital transformation, it will be as simple as saying, “Computer, automate this task for me.”

9.    Resilience and cost reduction rather than transformation

The economic gloom experienced in 2022 is, unfortunately, predicted by many to carry on well into 2023. As companies prepare, they will focus on automation efforts that drive resilience and cost reduction, rather than transformation. Businesses will improve what they have – increasing utilization rates, bettering processes, and procedures. Whilst also focusing efforts on how to keep costs down, whilst we tackle high levels of inflation. These initiatives sound simple, but they will have big impacts and pave the way for more effective transformation down the road. Businesses will utilize the power of data to ensure the processes that they do automate are going to produce the best results, this “process mining” will be an integral part of automation efforts in 2023. Ensuring the federated model and organized citizen development are carried out well will foster greater efficiency in the volatile market. 2023 will be the year of quality over quantity, which will equip organizations with resilience, and set them up for long-term success.

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