Appian's automation insights: key trends for 2021

Appian Software Australia Pty Limited

By Luke Thomas*
Monday, 22 February, 2021

Appian's automation insights: key trends for 2021

Ongoing market uncertainty fuelled by the impact of COVID-19 and the seemingly never-ending acceleration of the pace of change make every day a potential ‘new normal’. Automation was already well on its way to becoming a ubiquitous investment in 2020, then the pandemic accelerated interest and adoption. Organisations moved towards automation en masse, which interacted with mission-critical systems, legacy applications, and workers in both the front and back office.

Companies have more automation options now than ever before. But understanding these options and how they relate, and knowing how best to connect and orchestrate them across the entire organisation, is essential to getting automation right.

Appian highlights some key technology trends that will have an impact on Australian businesses as they advance their automation strategies.

Eliminating the disconnect between front-end and back-office experience

Too many businesses have great mobile and web experiences, but rely on slow, error-prone and manual processes to send out bills, address complaints or onboard customers, for instance. Financial and cultural investment in legacy systems underpinning operations means that throwing them out and starting afresh just isn’t practical.

Automation and business process tools streamline work, connect old systems to new ways of working, and reduce the amount of low-value, mundane work left to administrators by leveraging three key shifts in technology:

  1. They’re cloud-based and deliver high-quality experiences across web and mobile, both for those building systems and those using them. Apps that drive operations become available anywhere and anytime.
  2. They can make the most of AI and machine learning (ML) to free up employees to work more quickly and effectively. Rather than only being applied to 100% automation use cases, these tools can provide automated assistance while keeping humans at the centre, making predictions, recommending actions and flagging issues.
  3. They use low-code to make it easier to bring more people into the process of redefining operations. That means less reliance on specialist developers, as well as being able to create automated processes faster with the direct participation of the people who will be most affected by the changes, making change management easier.

Increased use of artificial intelligence and robotics in the health sector

As COVID-19 spread across the globe in 2020, many healthcare organisations paused elective procedures and took an all-hands-on-deck approach to emergency triage medicine and infectious disease care. Yet many of these elective procedures truly affected patients’ and members’ physical and mental wellness, potentially impacting long-term outcomes and placing further strain on healthcare costs.

This will increase pressure on providers to perform elective procedures in 2021 and, as a result, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will have a larger presence in the coming year. Surgeons now have increased opportunities to use AI and connected robotics tools to perform procedures more accurately and efficiently and to ultimately provide better and more rapid patient results.

Hyperautomation demand to force the integration of the modern workforce

With the market for AI and robotics only set to grow in the coming years, organisations will need to scale these technologies and realise their full value. To do this they will need hyperautomation to unify the modern workforce — with humans in control. Hyperautomation is the use of low-code development to rapidly combine people, technologies and data in a single workflow.

The mainstreaming of low-code development has changed the business automation landscape. And the blistering pace of this fast-moving trend to ‘combine and scale’ every member of the workforce with low-code is at the heart of the hyperautomation movement.

Low-code to become the new cloud

In the early 2000s, a company could be simply a cloud company. Today, though, cloud computing is an infrastructure and delivery method for whatever a company does.

Gartner has affirmed that low-code platforms are now fully in the mainstream for enterprise software development: “By 2023, over 50% of large enterprises will have adopted low-code as a strategic tool for app development.” This means low-code will now be recognised not as a monolithic market, but rather as a mechanism for meeting a wide range of enterprise needs, from low-end citizen development to complex process automation.

Advancing automation with agile IT systems

Organisations are automating as if the future of their business depends on it because they know that falling behind the automation curve could be lethal. Businesses are now aware that they need to be ready for change at any time, not to thrive, but just to survive, which has led them to the realisation that they need IT systems that support rapid change and agility.

In response to the events of 2020, Appian saw a high demand for low-code automation solutions, and this is continuing into 2021. These solutions help organisations automate complex workflows at rapid speed, positioning them to respond to the unexpected into the future.

*Luke Thomas is Regional Vice President APAC at Appian.

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