Innovation moves at an incredibly rapid, dizzying pace. And as is the nature of progress, every year it speeds up just a little bit more. The only thing that seems to be outpacing advancements in technology is the way in which we talk about it. It feels like once you’ve finally started to implement X, everyone else has already moved on to Y.
Not only is the buzzword-centric messaging exhausting, it often serves to exacerbate the fairly clear gap between the rate at which technology advances and the rate at which companies can integrate it into their business. It spurs businesses to take on projects solely because they feel like they’ll fall behind if they don’t. It drives consumers to have unrealistic expectations. It shifts the focus away from the actual benefits these technologies are supposed to be providing to little more than over-the-top hype and flashy phrases.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of this to see why you’re probably not as far behind as you think you are and what you can do moving forward.
The Case of Hyperautomation
Over the past two years, the concept of ‘hyperautomation’ has worked its way into the fold as a top technology trend. Gartner has even projected the market for hyperautomation enabling software will reach nearly $600 billion by 2022. So what is it and why is it important? If you’re not familiar with the term, it essentially combines the efforts of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in order to determine how to automate as many processes as possible. Effectively, if it can be automated, it should be.
And why shouldn’t we be automating more? If it makes internal processes run smoother, saves time and money, and ultimately delivers a better product or experience to the customer, then of course that’s a worthy investment. But one interesting statistic to note is that as of 2020, only 31% of companies have fully automated at least one function. A larger percentage (66%) of companies are at the very least piloting an automation project, but it would still seem that on average we’re a far cry away from this gilded age of hyperautomation.
Many of these technologies take time: time to integrate into a business’s strategy, time to realize their actual potential, and time for end users to see substantial benefit. Artificial intelligence is a prime example of this. Several years ago, artificial intelligence became the most buzz-worthy innovation the tech world had seen in a long time.
Vendors rushed to cash in on the gold rush and the subsequent AI-washing began. People would do whatever they could to incorporate the tiniest bit of AI logarithms just to be able to claim their solution was AI-enabled. And on the demand side, consumers bought it up eagerly, automatically equating artificial intelligence and machine learning with quality. In reality, many of these projects – a few years after the fact – are just beginning to pay dividends and see the results they initially intended to see much sooner. In fact, only 7% of companies say they have realized the full benefits from their AI and IoT investments.
There is no doubt that AI will transform the way the world does business in the same way that it is already transforming our daily lives. But it takes time.. Hyperautomation will have a similar impact, but hopefully this time around, our expectations will be more appropriately managed.
Proceed With Caution, But Still Proceed
Innovative projects often fail. In fact, roughly 80% of them fail to meet expectations. Why does this happen? There are a number of reasons — including unclear scope for the project, lack of sponsorship, and overrun budgets. And when your company’s project proposal revolves singularly around staying competitive, your organization isn’t very likely to stick behind a project without a clear ROI. Maintain a strict focus on tangible business benefits, not what anyone else happens to be doing. This goes to show, it’s better to do it right than to do it quickly.
The good news is that in the same way that advancements in tech have a compounding effect, so do your investments. Embracing digitalization and automation not only make future investments in your technology stack easier — because a lot of these integrations build upon one another — but they also make the decision process that much more fluid as well, building your team’s confidence in technology in the process. When you build momentum with your digital investments, making the leap from one tech initiative to two is a much shorter gap than starting from scratch.
The key here is to identify what makes the most sense right now for your organization. There is no silver bullet that is going to revolutionize your company overnight, but with incremental, deliberate steps and the right partnerships, you can make that technology gap a bit more manageable and remain competitive. As is the case with most things, starting is the hardest part.
If you’re unsure, talk to someone! Luckily, there are any number of specialists who would be happy to field your questions. Of course, do your own research and process of evaluation, but speaking to someone who can provide real world examples of how these technologies function rather than just speculation will help move your transformation along with more confidence and less friction.
You should always be trying to innovate, you should always have an open mind to change, but don’t think that just because your business doesn’t currently employ the use IoT, blockchain, RPA, AI, ML, hyperautomation and whatever other trend tomorrow will bring that your company can’t be competitive. Innovation ultimately means finding new ways to better serve your clients, whether that includes the latest buzz-worthy technology trends or not.