Automation and AI trends for 2020 – DATAQUEST

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AI and automation are two levers of digital transformation that are helping enterprises reimagine work and the larger workplace. Here are some trends that could sustain their momentum as we step into 2020.

Hyper-automation: Hyper-automation(HA) is gaining momentum as a key technology trend for 2020. It brings the totality of an organization’s automation effort under a single umbrella. HA is not just about automating tasks – it’s much bigger. It’s about seamless integration between systems. With HA, organizations can automate most of core business areas and involve everyone in the transformation.

Starting with RPA (at the core), it adds AI, process mining, ML and other tools to expand its capability. It also creates a digital twin of an organization (DTO) that becomes an integral part of the HA process and the organization. As a result, HA unlocks maximum efficiencies for organizations and that’s why it commands such attention.

Quantum computing and AI: Quantum computing is essentially harnessing and exploiting the laws of quantum mechanics to process information. The ability to store information in quantum bits simultaneously (both 0 and 1) unlike 0s or 1s discretely, and having the innate ability process massive amounts of data provides new avenues and opportunities for AI.

For example, a quantum computer could help develop virtual assistants with true contextual awareness and near human-like understanding for customers. Though this technology is still in a nascent stage, AI and quantum computing are likely to emerge as two sides of the same coin with the potential to accelerate the most complex transactions.

Digital workforce: Welcome the future of work! Digital workers! At its core, they are creation of disconnected automation tools – each one of whom has incredible potential to augment human efforts. We are already seeing this in action with RPA, AI and ML. These technologies create digital personas who “think” and “analyze” like humans, and have the capability to execute actions with speed and accuracy 24/7.

For instance, a digital worker can automate the entire process of submitting and raising invoices, can process cheques, process work orders without any supervision. These digital workers are different from bots as they have skills that combine routine tasks, cognitive functions and analytical abilities.

Autonomous things powered by AI: This is an era of intelligence-enabled devices. AI has given devices the capability to think, see, read, write, move and talk. These functions are helping humans in every sphere. They are based on recent developments in deep learning and artificial intelligence, giving devices the ability to actionize and control their environment on their own.

For instance, drones from Amazon have already started delivering packages. Amazon also uses a completed automated warehouse to bring orders home.

AI-based security: The stupendous rise of AI has everyone questioning where to draw the line because the same technology can be used for harmful effects. Cyber security is a growing issue mainly fueled by the widespread adoption of interconnected systems with multiple interfaces which open up new threat vectors.

Hackers are increasingly leveraging “Offensive AI” to launch systematic cyber-attacks. As we step into 2020, organizations will need to counter this with even more sophisticated AI capabilities.

Citizen developers: This is a new trend and there are a few definitions of it. But one way to look at it is that new technologies such as automation are beginning to get democratized and business users with little or no knowledge of code are beginning to infuse automation into their work to boost their own productivity.

This is possible as automation technologies are now available through the cloud through drag and drop interfaces. This has the potential to be a powerful and empowering tool that will boost workforce productivity significantly.

Conclusion
With every passing year, advancements in technology have pushed the innovation barrier – breaking silos and promoting collaboration. In this regard, AI and automation have made their mark by helping enterprises tangibly achieve what was once considered a pipe dream. As this technology evolves, its applications must be funneled in a way that promotes ethical, secure, smart and democratized workspaces.

— The author is Senior VP, Marketing, CSS Corp.

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