A new group of application generation products is quietly leading a transformation of just about everything, dramatically changing business and society. These technologies -- called hyperautomation -- provide the flexibility, capabilities and operational improvements needed to excel in the future, if businesses adopt them the right way.
Many companies have adopted elements of automation, licensing robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS), AI, cognitive computing and natural language processing (NLP). Most are still experimenting with them as standalone tools that can work together to produce advanced capabilities, but some have put these tools together and achieved great results. But results so far are mainly technological; even more beneficial results can be found when tools are used strategically to drive advanced business transformation and guide automation transformation.
The underlying architecture of hyperautomation tools is different than legacy tools and their use in transformation changes the approach when building applications and transforming company operations.
A sports analogy helps explain the difference between transformation and hypertransformation. The past approach to transformation is like football. In football, every play is focused on marching forward. It is focused and directed and does not accept change well. Hypertransformation is like soccer. In soccer, players can run in any direction at any time and play seldom stops. Everything is in fluid motion as play adjusts to constant change to meet situations, problems and opportunities as they are presented.
Companies today are designed to operate like football. But business change is now constant and technology allows progressive companies with a soccer mindset to run circles around others using old inflexible approaches and technologies.
Three important keys can help companies take advantage of hyperautomation in their transformation strategies. These are discussed at length in our book, Business and Digital Transformation in the Age of Hyperautomation, downloadable from the link below. The first is vision -- the ability to look at where things are going and predict what it will take to get there and dominate the market. The second is to define the capabilities that will be needed to deliver the new vison and develop an end-state model that is flexible, easily modified and customer-centric. The third involves strategic execution to get from the vision to the construction and implementation of a new state of business operations that will continue to evolve.
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Create a vision
Before a business can create a vision, the stakeholders must learn about the various hyperautomation technologies and why their development is so important. IT leaders must understand how the technologies work and how they can replace legacy applications. Business leaders must focus on the potential hyperautomation offers and how that can be used to achieve business goals.
Once business and technical managers have an understanding of what is possible, senior leaders can work with them to create a vision for the future business and its operation. This step is critical because it provides the primary direction for hyperautomation-based transformation. It should be noted, however, that it is unlikely that any vision will be implemented as initially envisioned. Hyperptransformation is designed to accommodate very rapid changes to advanced technology and the business models and IT requirements that must evolve as needed.
Define the business outcome
Once the vision is defined in some detail, the future-state design team can work with senior leadership to design a new target business model and define the business and digital capabilities that will be needed. Business operations in the model will use hyperautomation and advanced technologies, such as RPA, iBPMS, AI, NLP and decision management, to deliver these operating capabilities, as well as those needed to leapfrog the competition and gain market share.
The model must have all activities in each business function defined, along with automation support capabilities for each activity within the function. This includes the data, emails or forms that are passed between activities as workflows, when information is passed, the volumes, potential problems, performance measurement tactics, standards that must be followed, and more. The model must provide enough information to understand all the operating capabilities and their automation and how they align to activity and business function.
Execute the hypertransformation journey
When the business has a firm understanding of the vision driving the transformation and a detailed model of the end-state business design, it can begin the hypertransformation journey. In this phase, the path that will take the company from where it is now to future-state operations is determined, defined and executed. This is the hard part. It will require very different execution that blends business transformation with rapid application development based on hyperautomation tools. Most companies will need to obtain advice on how to move rapidly forward while targets continue to change.
This is the most important part of hypertransformation. A monolithic approach to transformation has proven to fall short when the path and endpoint has a tendency to change. In addition, following the traditional approach of freezing a new business design until the transformation is complete is doing the company a disservice -- it will miss out on new technology that could drastically affect the plan and outcome.
In hypertransformation, the vision may evolve and change the end-state target, and probably will, to reflect new technology capabilities, legislative requirements, innovations and customer interaction requirements. Therefore, the real advantage will go to companies that approach transformation in individual business function increments that are then blended together.
As separate deployable business function increments are released, they can be blended following the detail in the future-state model. This blending is why building a complete, comprehensive business model is critical. Each business functions will move to its new operation once it is complete and integrated into those that were built before it. Without the detail in the future-state model, the teams building the business functions have no idea how everything will fit together. Using an iBPMS tool allows the business to change the design at any time and easily identify any effects -- both to the new unaddressed parts of the design and the completed parts.
This method reflects a new approach to IT and the flexibility that must become the new normal. We recognize that few companies are ready to adapt to this approach. But the old static way of building a design and then taking years to build it will not work. Look at Tesla and autonomous vehicles: AI and cognitive computing with advanced sensors combined to change how we look at transportation.
Technological advances in autonomous vehicles, robots, communication and much more are affecting every part of business and society, allowing us to do things we could not do with older technologies. The advances inspire new visions and future-state operations with new needs. Businesses must learn to adjust quickly as modifications occur. This flexibility will provide the foundation needed in today's fast-changing technology and market environments.
About the authors
Dan Morris, CBPL, CBPP, CBA, ABPMP fellow, has more than 30 years of experience in business and IT operation transformation and management. He is the author of five books on business transformation and more than 70 papers and articles.
Keith Leust, MBA, CBA, Six Sigma Black Belt, is a results-driven business leader with more than 30 years of hands-on experience. He co-authored the first business architecture certification exam for the Business Architects Association and helped launch the business architecture practice for Oracle.