Forrester: The New Fabric of Automation is Where Digital Business Happens



A new report describes how a set of automation technologies, including RPA, low-code tools, chatbots, and machine learning, converge at the top of the application layer.

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Automation is changing the paradigm where development was limited to application development and delivery professionals with specialized skills, according to a new report from Forrester. Today, with low-code tools and robotic process automation builders, “business users and non-coders can now create bespoke workflows and custom functionality,” according to Automation is the report. New Fabric for Digital Business.

But a piecemeal approach to automation technology created as many problems as it solved, according to the report. One of the problems is that tactical automation underestimates the potential for transformation.

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While automation is the catalyst that supports transformation at multiple levels, “tactical, cost-driven automation disconnected from digital transformation goals can inhibit this larger view.”

Other issues highlighted in the report:

The islands of automation lead to a myopic view of the possible. Many automation programs run through businesses, each of which exists in its own silo. For example, a company’s finance team can use RPA while the IT team advocates low-code or artificial intelligence and the contact center engages in chatbots. Automation silos between different technology initiatives prevent teams from taking advantage of the obvious synergies between these converging technologies.

Over-reliance on a single automation technology leads to sub-optimal results. Businesses can engage too much in a given automation technology without considering whether it is the best approach to achieve a goal. This syndrome can be avoided by using holistic automation governance approaches.

The report quotes Pavan Subramanya, director of intelligent automation at Fiserv, who said the company has pivoted to focus on the business problem rather than the technology to solve it. “Today, our automation architects’ approach is to design the technology solution using multiple tools to deliver the most optimal solution that matches the business case,” said Subramanya. “All technologies are open for review, including low-code apps, chatbots, RPA, BPMS, IVR automation, SMS gateways, and AI.”

Tactical approaches create technical debt. Tactical automation can often temporarily fill pockets of inefficiency, allowing CIOs and CFOs to delay modernization investments, according to the Forrester report. The tactical approach “only allows inefficient legacy processes and applications to go down. And if you let processes proliferate without strong governance, automation could end up making them more fragile. This causes short-term unpredictability and creates long-term technical debt, which hinders transformation later, ”the report said.

Automation fabric unifies various technological options

Today’s various automation options are already starting to co-evolve and converge into a broad weave – a “fabric” – that sits above the application layer, said Forrester. This fabric combines digital workers and AI agents such as chatbots with event-driven, integration-centric orchestration.

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Forrester defines the automation fabric as an enterprise-wide automation system that integrates multiple adjacent and complementary automation technologies, process architectures, organizational behaviors, and co-innovation models to support the goals of human-centric automation and a self-sustaining business.

An automation fabric is not a commercially available product, but organizations can purchase the technologies they need to flexibly meet their transformation goals, said Forrester.

Within the fabric, automation is the application

The fabric of automation weaves together various technologies to reduce the complexity of the underlying application and process environments, enabling work and empowering workers, according to the report.

When this happens, the fabric begins to acquire characteristics such as woven processes throughout and the ability of applications to “express themselves through the fabric,” the report says.

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The fabric also orchestrates the interactions between humans and robots. AI capabilities are being injected into the fabric, providing opportunities for new forms of engagement. The extensibility of the fabric also promises support for future use cases, according to the report.

Many real-world processes are disconnected from the framework of process automation. Imagine a world where a user-created workflow triggers an automated process that ends with a robot spilling a burger or a drone delivering a package, ”the report says. “Such workflows are difficult to design today, but will become commonplace in three years as sensors. , drones, robotics and 5G are proliferating. Due to its flexibility and openness, the automation framework can expand to support cloud robotic platforms and several emerging use cases. “

The report recommends that companies adopt five behaviors to be successful with the automation fabric:

  • CEOs and digital leaders must embrace and drive automation as a “strategic movement.” Set a “big, bold and furry goal” to achieve transformation fueled by automation. Companies that excel at automation will outweigh competitors that don’t.
  • Converge fragmented automation initiatives rather than letting these technologies sit in their own silos. Unify multiple automation skills such as RPA, low-code, APIs, data science, and machine learning into a common framework.
  • Use balanced dashboards to govern automation and provide visibility into its true impact.
  • Empower business users to lead the charge. Let them create and support automations.

Make user and customer experience a priority. Automation design often does not have user experience or CX support. This flies in the face of the fact that employees and customers are often the ones who interact the most with automation. Organizations need to make CX tools, such as customer journey mapping, a core part of the automation toolkit, according to the report.

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