From chatbots to low-code programming: welcome to the world of hyperautomation

Hyper-automation initiatives continue to grow as enterprises leverage AI, IoT and chatbots to drive efficiencies by scaling up automation rather than scaling down employees. In the face of continuing economic challenges, skills shortages and supply-chain issues, hyperautomation remains a fast-growing tech trend that can offer solutions to ongoing challenges.

Gartner recently reported that for the third year in a row, 80% of its clients say they plan to increase or sustain their spending on hyperautomation. It is perhaps a reflection of continuing trends in the employment market, factors like skills and talent shortages and rising wages, that companies are turning to automation tools to save precious time and money and give them a competitive edge.

Indeed, it can also be explained by taking in broader economic shifts. Forecasts around the world point to a coming recession, making all businesses examine expenditure and operations and seek new ways to stay profitable. And that might mean a shift from prioritizing growth to emphasizing operational efficiencies and lowering overheads while still delivering high levels of customer experience (CX).

Paving the way for hyperautomation

The looming global recession, plus labor and wage aspects, create challenges for business, but automation can be an aid to overcoming these challenges. The current generation of automated tools is built on data-powered tools and applications, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Both are increasingly present in corporate workflows and processes, being used to dramatically improve efficiency and output while reducing the need for more workers.

Of course, automation driving efficiencies in workplaces is nothing particularly new. For years, automation has been used in how products are made, stored and delivered. But the roles that robots and automation tools can perform are constantly changing. The next logical step for automation is hyperautomation, where tools like AI and ML power automation to process complex data sets more quickly and effectively and free up human workers to carry out more complex, important tasks. Gartner has previously said that hyperautomation has "shifted from an option to a condition of survival" in our post-pandemic, digital-first world.

Growing trend, evolving practices

Up until recently, the prevailing technology in automation terms has been robotic process automation (RPA). But there is a growing awareness that while RPA gave companies increased productivity, improved efficiency and cost savings, it doesn't address all the automation functions companies now need it to. So, RPA has become something of a launchpad from which to build more complex automation deployments. That could be AI to analyze data more effectively and pinpoint where you can make automation changes in your operations. Or it could mean using analytics to identify where automation can help you directly improve CX, user experience (UX) or employee experience (EX).

In a recent webinar, Gartner examined current hyperautomation trends and predictions for 2023, including the role of things like AI, RPA and low code. One of Gartner's most interesting predictions is that the nature of hyperautomation itself will continue to evolve. Moving forward, many of the things that were standalone aspects of automation will be bracketed under the umbrella of Enterprise Platform Automation (EPA), which encompasses RPA tools, iPaaS, data intelligence, process and task mining and more.

Low code on the rise

One area you can expect to see change as hyperautomation evolves is the adoption of low code. This software development technique lets users collaborate and deliver transformative solutions more quickly through minimized amounts of coding. With low code, there's less requirement to actually create custom code and more user-friendly tools in play like graphical components, boilerplate scripts and integrations. It makes building custom software more accessible to more people.

It is an exciting shift and one that aligns well with end-user development. With this approach, organizations create RPA power users who might not have extensive coding experience but have the sufficient technical expertise to oversee a bot's development. It's expected that increasing hybrid or borderless workforces will drive low-code adoption. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technology, up from less than 25% in 2020. Further, by 2025, 75% of large enterprises will be using at least four low-code development tools for both IT application development and citizen development initiatives.

Citizen development is another area of hyperautomation you can expect to hear lots more about. Citizen developers are non-technical users who can build simple automations for either themselves or their departments. It's effectively a DIY way of creating and sustaining continuous automation in your company. Citizen developers can play a role in helping companies scale RPA technologies and lessen the workload on IT teams and other automation developers. It has a knock-on effect on other areas of a company: according to McKinsey, companies that embrace citizen development score 33% higher on innovation, for example.

Business-driven hyperautomation

Hyperautomation shows no sign of slowing down and the shifts within it are happening rapidly. As we move ahead, hyperautomation will become a bigger umbrella under which more benefits reside: it's a framework that takes the base benefits of RPA and builds on them to deliver greater speed and scale to enterprises.

Learn more about the potential for hyperautomation throughout your business in our ebook: Automate everything: from RPA to hyperautomation and beyond.

Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.