"Here in 2020, nearly every organization has deployed or is deploying bots to drive further efficiency and value out of their business processes. RPA, and its older, smarter cousin Artificial Intelligence (AI), has taken the world by storm, promising cheap, fast and good process automation that nearly anyone can build, deploy and support. 

Now, back when I was building spacecraft for Lockheed Martin, we engineers had a saying: Cheap, Fast, Good; pick any two.  Hence, when I heard the hype surrounding RPA, that it provides all three with ease, I was immediately suspect.  As I became more personally involved in both RPA and AI implementations, I began to see that, indeed, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  That being said, RPA and AI absolutely will completely change how businesses operate and the economics of their operations.  These technologies are here to stay, if even in ways different from how it was envisioned just a few years ago."

Christopher Surdak Executive Partner at Gartner Jan 2020

Intelligent Automation (IA) spans a spectrum of tools and technology: 

  1. Rules Based Task Automation
  2. Machine Learning
  3. Specific Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  4. General AI

It is not a simple technology/solution. Surdak goes on to say:-

"One of my prior employers loved this term, IA (Intelligent Automation), but I always hated it. It implies that the last half-century of automation we have deployed was somehow “dumb,” and now we are so much smarter.  The reality is completely different.  Nearly all of the concepts, mathematics and approaches used in IA were created decades ago.  What is now changing the nature of automation is a combination of:

  • Massive Computer Processing Capacity
  • Enormous Quantities of Data
  • Ubiquitous Device Connectivity (Mobility and Internet of Things)
  • Ubiquitous Human Connectivity (Social Media)

Which now allows the algorithms and concepts of the mid-20th century to actually come to fruition. Ironically, for this new wave of “intelligent automation” to realize its full potential, we need to fully retire the old wave of automation, and the business processes they enabled.  This is the definition of digital transformation that I laid out in my last book, “Jerk, The Digital Transformation Cookbook.”

This only goes to show how true the engineer's adage is : 

Engineers have a saying: Cheap, Fast, Good; pick any two. This is as true for BOTS as any other technology. RPA, BOTs, AI will cost more and take more effort than you believe. And will be of little value (if any) unless part of an overall and effective strategy that will ensure you, the insurer, are in the top quintile in this decade. 

For example Audatex offer effective and automated "Total Loss" decision tools for Motor Insurers.  But of what use is it if that decision is made fast but the rest of the claims journey still languishes in the  clunky old user experience of legacy claims management software. 

If the digitally transformed claims platform speeds up effective management of the claim only to be halted whilst waiting for a decision on being a write-off  or repairable then again this is not part of an overarching strategy to delight customers. That should really now include the plan to automate the estimation of repair time and cost with at least an 80% accuracy rate. 

Achieve that and you need to also orchestrate the repair network so that policyholders can book their vehicles in directly, coordinate courtesy cars and get proactive updates on progress and the vehicle being ready for delivery or collection.

In other words, AI is not a solution in itself and only makes business and customer sense when part of a complete over-arching innovation strategy focussed on the customer. Which means it will take longer and cost more than you initially think. See 

"Why companies end up spending more on digital technologies than anticipated"

Which is why Mark Breading is correct to say "So, it’s safe to assume that the potential of AI technologies is overhyped for the near term but underestimated for the long term."

PS - the quotes from Christopher Surdak are from an advanced draft of a new book addressing the whole issue of BOTS and Intelligent Automation. It gives the detail to make the right decisions so look out for it here.

 I can assure you that it will be well worth reading when it appears in the near future.