Points of View

Autonomics are Accelerating the Journey To Intelligent Automation

Nov 10, 2015 Tom Reuner

The market for services using Intelligent Automation is starting to mature. In particular, large service providers are slowly beginning to engage with client stakeholders with discussions and implementations and those deployments are starting to scale. Yet, most of the current discussions remain focused on RPA and consequently the scope is generally around business processes and most of the marketing is coming from the vendors of Intelligent Automation tools and software. In order to broaden the discourse beyond RPA and to encourage service providers to play a more active role, HfS is launching the Autonomics Premier League Table that will be published shortly. This research will highlight the evolution toward three dimensions of Intelligent Automation: toward unstructured data, less well defined processes as well as the integration of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence.


As part of this research we were briefed by executives of Accenture and the ensuing discussion yielded valuable insights for future market scenarios.


Accenture’s strategy focuses on three pillars:


  1. Automation solutions need specific business domain expertise to be able to reason and deliver tangible results thus supporting the business orientation.
  2. These solutions need to put people (or more specifically agents or business analysts) first. Thus, enterprises need to re-evaluate their workforce – what tasks should humans do, what skills they need now and how they are going to work with machines.
  3. To be effective, enterprises must leverage multiple key technologies. It is not one tool or one capability, like machine learning. It is a not a single bullet technology, and not one that can just be bolted onto your enterprise to suddenly solve your hardest problems. Therefore, Accenture has an open, agnostic innovation model, which draws the best technology solutions from a broad ecosystem rather than fixing on any specific vendor platform.


Agreeing with HfS that the narrative for Intelligent Automation is moving from pure cost arguments and the replacement of FTEs toward transformation and agility, Accenture executives made it clear that automation for them is all about data that in turn feeds ever more sophisticated analytics. In order to build out a centralized governance layer that will manage and leverage disparate approaches of automation, Accenture has set up an Artificial Intelligence Technology Lab in Dublin, Ireland. To overcome organizational boundaries, these resources will collaborate with teams across Accenture’s businesses (e.g., Consulting, Digital, Technology and Operations) that are tasked with embedding automation and autonomics. This needs to be seen in the context that Accenture has already combined its business process outsourcing, infrastructure, security, and cloud services into Accenture Operations. In our view, however, the crucial element in Accenture’s strategy is Accenture’s artificial intelligence engine that provides an architecture abstraction layer for interacting with various autonomics services such as natural language processing and machine learning. Thus, underlying components can be swapped out according to client preferences or as new solutions become available, leveraging a broad autonomics ecosystem.


In order to get to Intelligent Automation deployments that are scalable and at the heart of IT and business process delivery, the industry needs more holistic approaches to Intelligent Automation. As suggested by Accenture, the ability to run vertically infused analytics on top of ever more automated processes will become a key differentiator. To reach Intelligent Automation maturity, enterprises should apply a portfolio approach that combines and integrates disparate approaches to process automation.


Stay tuned for more details and insights from the upcoming HfS Autonomics Premier League Table where we will expand on the issues raised.