Hyperautomation is a buzzword that has been flying around for a couple of years now. Gartner coined the term and defines the concept as “… a business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.” Forrester refers to the concept as digital process automation, but the idea behind the movement is the same. In simple terms, hyperautomation combines multiple business tools with technology to achieve comprehensive automation of tasks across an organization. Companies are investing more money than ever in process optimization and the technology required to achieve streamlined workflow. Hyperautomation is more than a trend and will be top-of-mind for organizations as they continue to invest in the rapidly growing market.
A lot of issues impact the way business is done these days and most workplaces barely resemble the way they looked just a few short years ago. Many companies have not been able to restore their pre-pandemic status, whether that is filling vacant office buildings or achieving production metrics that are now impacted by supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. Tough times often demand transformation, and the pandemic opened the door for changes like hyperautomation and the investment in technology that may have otherwise been put on the back burner. Robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and low-code application platforms (LCAP) are just a few of the technologies where companies are investing to maximize process efficiency.
One of the primary benefits of hyperautomation is the increase in productivity that results from reliability and consistency, increased quality, and minimal human intervention. This leads to customer satisfaction, reduced operating costs, and transparency into processes with analytics that allow organizations to create effective business strategies. Predictive analytics have become a priority for many companies as the importance of being prepared for resource shortages and other operational issues continues to apply across industries. Compliance becomes easier to manage when many things are automated and providing consistent data, and companies can also benefit from enhanced security that results from the reduction in human error. Hyperautomation does not necessarily mean eliminating jobs. It can serve to remove the burden from employees to help establish better retention and job satisfaction. Increasing process efficiency benefits employees directly by reducing the daily pressure that comes from supplementing work with automated tasks, in addition to knowing they can prioritize time off knowing that certain job duties will be performed automatically in their absence.
Hyperautomation can be applied everywhere, across industries and businesses where the goal is to modernize processes through the widespread incorporation of technology. By capitalizing on digital transformation to connect multiple automated systems, employees can work smarter across the organization; from the back-office to the operational center and beyond. Hyperautomation can contribute to the consistent yield of high-quality products and services with faster time-to-market, thereby increasing customer satisfaction and gaining competitive advantages. In manufacturing, software applications like MES (manufacturing execution systems) can be integrated with enterprise systems to provide process visualization, performance analytics, operational coordination, improved communication, compliance, and optimized operations. Oil and gas companies are investing in hyperautomation with a focus in areas like automating tasks, intelligent document processing, and pipeline valve automation, while utility companies already operating with smart IoT systems are adequately prepared to incorporate higher levels of automation. No matter the industry, the combination of automated processes, digitalized platforms, and integrated systems can enhance overall operational efficiency.
Automation is designed to increase process efficiency and occurs when machines are utilized to perform otherwise manual tasks. Industrial control systems integrate the various components required to automate equipment and processes and can tie multiple automation initiatives together. Hyperautomation, on the other hand, serves to automate everything to eliminate as many manual tasks as possible. Essentially, it is an added layer that relies on more advanced technology to gain an even higher level of automation. In industrial automation this may be the difference between automating part of the production process and still requiring manual intervention for certain tasks. For example, imagine a factory where part of the assembly is automated on separate lines, but the product final inspection is performed manually. Hyperautomation would take the production process a step further to use robots to perform inspection tasks using technology such as sensors, cameras, scales, and more. Essentially the life cycle of a product could be fully automated from the delivery of ingredients or materials to the facility, to the assembly line and inspection on the production floor, to the packaging and shipment of the completed product. Technology adds yet another level when you combine software systems to manage customers, orders, shipments, etc. that work together to create a hyperautomated process.
Organizations can be successful when implementing hyperautomation, but the latest and greatest technology is not always a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead of haphazardly investing in multiple automation solutions at once, organizations should be very intentional and realistic about the changes they invest in, including emerging technologies. The best way to determine what is needed is by conducting a thorough evaluation of processes and equipment to help develop a strategic automation plan, otherwise known as a roadmap. It is also imperative that the right players be involved, including stakeholders, information technology (IT), operators, and control systems integrators. Hyperautomation can have a major impact on company culture, so it is important to communicate with employees throughout the process to encourage positivity surrounding the changes. Plans should be carefully developed, designed, and tested before, during and after implementation of every phase to avoid costly downtime. Training is also critical to ensure technology is not overly complicated for the tasks and the users involved. Ultimately, the challenges of hyperautomation can be managed to achieve the desired outcome when steps are followed carefully in a planned and phased approach. Partnering with experts in technology and automation is also highly advisable and can be beneficial for avoiding pitfalls that exist with such a large endeavor.
EN Automation is a CSIA-certified systems integrator with experience helping clients implement the complete spectrum of automation solutions in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, food and beverage, oil and gas, utilities, transportation, and more. Specifically, we have experience partnering with clients to successfully evaluate processes for hyperautomation projects including the development of roadmaps for phased design and implementation. We support over 50 automation platforms and have partnerships with several industry leaders to maintain best practices and current knowledge on available and emerging technologies.