Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Jumpstart Your Hyperautomation Journey, Part 1

Roland Alston, Thought Leadership Program Leader
April 28, 2021

There’s no science to getting a good idea to spread, but it helps if you can get your idea across without the hype. Which is why automation expert Arjun Devadas talks about hyperautomation in terms a non-tech exec in any organization can understand.

For example, Devadas talks about how insurance companies are using hyperautomation to process truckloads of documents to settle numerous claims. Because of hyperautomation, says Devadas, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools can read and analyze data at super-human speed from documents, chat, and other channels. In other words, claims can be processed faster and more accurately than ever before.

Devadas serves as Senior Vice President, Professional Services & Operations, Americas for Vuram, a hyperautomation services company. Always direct, pragmatic, and perceptive, Devadas reminds us that digital bots should complement human workers, not replace them. He contrasts the inefficiencies of manual processes with the remarkable speed and accuracy of optical character recognition (OCR), AI, and robotic process automation (RPA). And he argues hyperautomation liberates humans from mind-numbing tedious work.

Devadas also believes hyperautomation makes humans more human. He urges us to see it as a teammate rather than a threat to human workers.

The best approach to hyperautomation, he says, prioritizes human engagement, empathy, and innovation and augments the capabilities of human workers with the superhuman speed, accuracy, and efficiency of technologies that will shape the future of business automation.

 

    “…Hyperautomation is a tool kit that you build over time,” says Devadas who has over 10 years of consulting experience with large organizations under his belt. “It’s not something that you can just go out and purchase,” says Devadas. “And it doesn’t happen all at once. But any organization with lots of manual business processes, lots of siloed systems that aren’t connected, and very low visibility into data across the organization needs to get serious about hyperautomation.”

 

So, how do you know it’s time to jumpstart your hyperautomation journey?

Devadas gives us four warning signs:

  1. You lack visibility into critical operational data.
  2. You routinely send multiple emails to different people and then have to wait days to get back all the data you need
  3. Your employees complain about wasting time on repetitive, low-value, routine tasks
  4. It’s becoming increasingly harder to manage siloed technology across your organization.

Now, it’s time to tune in to the latest episode of Digital Masters with Arjun Devadas, Senior Vice President, Professional Services & Operations for Vuram in the Americas.

Appian: So, the topic we want to talk about today is hyperautomation. But before we do that, let’s talk about your role at Vuram and the fact that Vuram has been in the business of helping large organizations implement automation strategies for over a decade now. Based on your experience, how have things changed as it relates to business automation, and how has the hyperautomation trend affected your digital transformation journey at Vuram?

Devadas: So, Vuram started its digital transformation journey before hyperautomation became a thing. Back then, automation was just automation. And Vuram was a happy business process management (BPM) shop which was pretty much all we did.

 

“When I joined Vuram back in 2011, we were still evolving from a pure BPM shop to exploring other complementary technologies that we could put around BPM.”

 

Our thought process was very much in line with Appian’s approach to low-code automation. So, we started building on our Hyperautomation foundation with technologies such as RPA. Later, we added AI and machine learning (ML) which I think aligns with the evolution of hyperautomation. So, I would say ours was not a planned journey to hyperautomation. It was an evolution of BPM which also focuses on automation. And we wanted to explore ways to make BPM even smarter. In the past, we had to depend on many different tools to do that.

Today, we have a foundational set of tools including BPM, RPA, AI, and ML with a strong focus on automation.

So as a company, I would say our journey from 2011 to 2021 evolved incrementally from BPM to hyperautomation.

Appian: So, your journey to hyperautomation is just another phase in the evolution of BPM.

Devadas: I would say it's an evolution from simple automation to a complimentary set of tools that makes automation smarter.

Appian: Okay. So, how do you explain this evolution to C-level clients who may not be tech savvy? How do you talk about the business value of hyperautomation and why it matters?

Devadas: Some of the questions I like to start out with is: How many hours do people in your organization waste per day sending emails? How heavily do people in your organization use spreadsheets, and how many of them are burdened with doing data entry and other kinds of repetitive tasks.

Appian:  So, you basically talk about use-cases and not technology.

Devadas: Yes, we talk about things like improving interactions between teams.
We talk about reducing the volume of email communication between teams. We talk about giving C-level execs better visibility into business processes. And we talk about these things in simple terms that are easy to understand.

Appian: Picking up on what you just said about these day-to-day use-cases for hyperautomation. I think one of the challenges we have in talking about hyperautomation to business leaders is breaking down how it impacts the strategies and goals of an organization. So, how do you talk about the strategic value of hyperautomation and why it matters?

Devadas: Couple of things. Let’s look at it from a low-code perspective. IT can become a bottleneck for tech adoption in any organization. The organization needs a critical business application, and they need it fast. But they can’t get it because of an IT backlog. So how do you reduce an organization’s dependency on IT and only get IT involved for very complex things like system integrations?

Also, how do you improve employee productivity? If your people do a lot of repetitive tasks like logging into a system, searching for information then typing it into another system, none of these activities call for human empathy. If that’s the case, why shouldn’t they be automated? This is one of the benefits of hyperautomation. It liberates humans to focus on value-added work.

Appian:  So, you see hyperautomation as more of a teammate than an enemy of human labor?

Devadas:  Yes, so automation enables humans to do a job better. It can also lighten our workload. So, it’s better to see bots as teammates rather than replacements for human labor.

 

The other benefit of hyperautomation is that it makes your organization more agile. Let's say you have something to automate but it’s not an entire workflow. With traditional software development, you may need an end-to-end workflow, right. But hyperautomation allows you to break down a workflow into smaller components and build on top of them.

 

Appian: So, hyperautomation is about managing people and bots.

Devadas: Absolutely. So, one of the challenges businesses face (with hyperautomation) is change management. As automation starts within an organization people can start freaking out a bit. Other companies don't want to prioritize automation because they think their people are okay without it.

Change management has always been a challenge. Businesses have to do a better job of helping employees understand that bots are not replacing them. Automation is about helping them work more efficiently, smarter, and liberating them to use human empathy wherever it’s needed. It's hard for bots to replace that.

Appian: So, you mentioned low-code development. How does low-code fit into the hyperautomation picture? What’s the connection?

Devadas: There was always a connection between low-code and hyperautomation. They’re different but certainly connected. Low-code is a way to build applications quickly. You don't have to code everything from scratch. I love the comparison of low-code to Lego blocks.

With the traditional way of coding applications, you write code from scratch. But with low-code, you can code like a developer or use artifacts like Lego blocks to build applications faster.

Appian: Can you give an example, a use-case that shows what you’re talking about?

Devadas: Remember when the government rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help businesses get through the COVID crisis? Well, we literally had like three and a half to four weeks to react. We were planning to build a loan origination platform to help a client take advantage of the program.

So, since we had a low-code platform with hyperautomation tools like intelligent document processing (IDP) and OCR built in, within two and a half weeks we were able to build a PPP solution, get it production-ready and bring it to market.

Without a low-code platform, we couldn’t have built the solution and got it into production that fast. It would have taken months.

Click here to read the final episode of Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Jumpstart Your Hyperautomation Journey, a conversation with Arjun Devadas,  Senior Vice President, Professional Services & Operations, Americas for Vuram.