In a recent Article, Gartner says that no single tool available today can replace humans in the workplace. The article goes on to say that hyper-automation is a response to this challenge – bringing together different tools, technologies and techniques to amplify every company’s ability to automate more processes, more rapidly, with better results.
It is no secret that productivity has slowed. In a Post from 2016, I described this phenomenon in detail. According to Wikipedia, productivity is an average measure of the efficiency of production. It can be expressed as the ratio of output to inputs used in the production process. In a Citi Report I shared in that post, they describe the significant slowing of labor productivity growth, which drives a focus on next generation gains. But In spite of technological progress and innovation, measured productivity growth is low by historical comparison.
Economist and advisor Jeremy Rifkin links the slowing of growth to our reliance on a second industrial revolution platform whose productivity peaked 20 years ago. Rifkin, who is well-known for his views on a Third Industrial Revolution, speaks to the fact that aggregate efficiency – the ratio of actual work to useful work – peaked in the early 1990s. But now, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, and our general purpose technology platform is changing. The platform that drives society (energy, transport, and communications) is changing for the first time since the second industrial revolution; and hyper-automation may be the result.
According to the article referenced above, automation typically focused on using technology to execute rule-based, repeatable tasks that require considerable manual effort. Automating these tasks saves valuable time for employees—and increases productivity, process speed and accuracy. But hyper-automation begins with a foundation of process automation technologies and expands their capabilities with AI; meaning that more types of processes can be automated and optimised. The article describes the components of hyper-automation: process automation, artificial intelligence, process discovery tools, empowering everyone to get involved, human-machine collaboration, and a continuous improvement effort.
I built a productivity wheel back in 2016 that I believe still applies. A next generation productivity involves more than technology, representing a critical pillar in the transformative journey of every organization; but our path forward will have unintended consequences. Will we reach such an extreme level of productivity that an economic paradigm based on scarcity struggles in the aftermath?