Can Automation put a Human into the Robot?

Intelligent Automation Trends

Customer Support Chatbot

Chatbots have been the catalyst in transforming customer interaction for years. Since 2022, chatbots have taken the center stage for customer support as more and more businesses are adopting them to boost customer engagement. Chatbots are tirelessly available 24/7, and can seamlessly interact with every customer, with zero waiting time.

Automated Process Discovery

The automated process discovery technologies have started to make waves by helping customers understand processes in a whole new light. They are not completely focused on automation, but they do provide process-related insights that cannot be gained by any other means. Process mining, task mining, conversation mining are all tools that can improve process discovery and drive improvement initiatives.

Intelligent Automation with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Customers on the RPA journey would find one piece missing in their automation journey – Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This is needed for deciding on any action that needs to be completed by a human and automate them. It involves observing, listening, comprehending, understanding, responding, and making decisions.

Intelligent automation adds many complementary technologies to RPA. These capabilities include the kinds of work humans do now: looking at an invoice, reading an email, deciding for an approval of a loan application, responding to a customer and much more.This is also why why the most important tasks cannot be automated with RPA alone.

Process Intelligence to Monitor Process Health

Process intelligence is the new normal. Enterprises can monitor their processes, especially the manual processes. There are instances where organizations are not getting the expected returns from automation. This is generally because the processes aren’t monitored over a long enough period and not well understood before automation or restructuring.

This is where process intelligence comes in. It adds data and intelligence layers to automation to improve the ongoing processes. The workplaces today have become hybrid with the mix of on-site and remote workers. Monitoring processes and staff becomes even more important now. Process intelligence takes the guesswork out of staffing needs, budgeting, SLA projections, and much more, even when processes are still being completed by people. Intelligent automation penetrates only so far, especially given the way current processes are designed. Unless we transform each process in business to be suitable for automation, process intelligence will become a necessity.

Accessibility Testing

With more customers going digital, there’s a need to create software that is accessible to all our customers. The need for accessibility testing will be even more significant in the coming years.

More Automation

The most important prediction for software testing trends is the need for more automation. The world of technology is moving at a rapid pace, and it’s difficult to know which emerging technologies to pin hopes on. However, automation capabilities help in building a proper foundation to make sure that processes help rather than hinder the future of businesses. These technologies are already becoming a reality in some leading organizations and will become the norm by 2025. Getting on board early will accelerate your existing automation efforts and pave the way for a future autonomous enterprise.

Democratization of IT: The Way Forward

“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men.  No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man”. These are the words of late19thCentury American writer Elbert Hubbard. Words that still ring true today, over a century later. His words can be equated to the paranoia that was rampant when Automation was first introduced to IT. It was widely believed that this would be the end of human workers and only digital workers would thrive. This was never the intention of Automation in IT.

Automation was introduced to replace the mundane and repetitive tasks that did not require much intellectual input, and to help human workers focus on crucial activities that require more brainpower. Humans are more adept in dealing with contingency as well. Technology can never replace humans entirely, but yes, some of the workforce will be affected. The human workforce can never be completely ousted due to technology-adoption.

Automation and technology have influenced lot of things in the last 2 decades and helped evolve major activities that drive our day-to-day affairs, while the adoption of technology may have taken a few jobs away, it has opened up many new job avenues that had never existed before.

What is Democratization and why it is important?

Take the example of the internet. It was introduced in the late sixties and was for exclusive use by Governments, for intelligence-sharing.  Less than 3 decades later, the internet has been democratized and it has come to define the age we are living in. No business can function without it. The same goes for printing. Printed books were available only to an elite few. Democratization of printing gave knowledge and ideas more power than ever before. Every industrial revolution will have democratization at its core. One cannot avoid it.

Democratization simply means making technology more accessible to more people, nothing furthers the above stated novel cause of automation like Democratization of IT. Democratization involves increasing availability of technology in different ways, at different speeds, to all irrespective of influencing external factors. The core idea of Democratization is to empower humans to think more and access more ideas that will lead to developments in technologies.

Democratization allows outsiders access to the newest innovations. And who are these ’outsiders’? They are customers or users of the technology manufactured by the tech industry. So, democratization ensures they become a part of the development and contribute to the advancement of technology.

Businesses can reach out to potential users, get better idea of their needs, their expectations from a product or service and tune their expertise on-hand to deliver it to them. When the products are a direct result of the consumer’s demands, it is a win-win situation. Open-source software is soaring in popularity thanks to this, not to mention the peaking of consumer satisfaction and heightened user-experience.

Democracy in Automation

When it comes to automation in particular, democratization can lead to a formidable partnership of humans and technology. This partnership collaboratively works on imaginative, innovative ideating tasks and the handling of all errands that can potentially distract the human part from achieving the end goal. This could be the answer to improve the low productivity of companies every year, an estimate says this could enhance businesses by 5 Trillion USD

The biggest contributor to Democratization of Automation is by far Intelligent Automation that uses a combination of process automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to develop ‘smart’ workflows that learn and acclimatize to even unforeseen situations on their own volition. A great example of this is AI Augmentation which according to Gartner will Create $2.9 Trillion of Business Value in 2021.

Democratization of Automation can lead to:

  1. Improved Go-to-Market Speed: Businesses receive more direct and indirect input from customers. This reduces research time by a huge margin. Democratization improves the joint efforts of humans and technology and ensures the output is achieved with minimal productivity loss.
  2. Quicker Resolutions: With the involvement of AI that can retort to unique customer-requirements, simpler recurring issues can be solved without human involvement. It is for this purpose that Conversational AI or chatbots that leverage Intelligent Automation, is now increasingly becoming the first line of contact with employees, the business ecosystem as well as existing and potential customers.
  3. Valuable Insights: Data is continually collected and processed. AI/ML-driven insight is created to understand the trends and fore cast the possibilities of risks and settle them prior their occurrence, reduce compliance errors and operational failures.

The FlipSide of Democratization

Democratization of Technology is a budding concept and easing into it is quite tedious. The surge in DIY/Amateurism culture that is a consequence of democratization, can cause a dip in the requirement of trained professionals. The customer at times must deal with new and unfamiliar technology by themselves with virtually no supervision. The consequences of such a scenario need not be elaborated.

A framework effective enough to thwart security threats associated with democratization is yet to come into fruition. Experts are still in the developmental stages and cannot give a comprehensive solution to this common issue, at this time.

To conclude, Democratization of Technology is still in its nascent stages and many aspects are yet to be ironed out. But once it is perfected, there will be no stopping it. It can drive the complete digital transformation of businesses. There are companies who are the pioneers of such transformation in their businesses and have revolutionized their respective market by democratization, look at Uber, Amazon and many such leading examples that have a compelling story to tell.

Head, Automation Practice

Data References:

Ensure Customer Delight: Automate your Customer-Service Lines with Conversational AI

Providing amazing customer service is one of the primary goals of any business. In the current scenario AI Chatbots are turning out to be the safest way to interact with customers. Chatbots allow us to eliminate a fair share of the ‘human’ factor from the interaction chain. Especially for answering standard queries and sharing general or specific information that customers might require. Whether a customer is retained or not is highly dependent on how smooth their initial interaction with the company is and how well they are treated during this crucial step.

Chatbots work along the same lines as a human in terms of communicating with prospects, but it is more apt to say the chatbot works practically the way it is programmed to. Chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence, do not rely on written process material or videos, it learns from real-time scenarios or the archives of earlier conversations. The way chatbots can stimulate the conversation and keep customers engaged has made them a promising option in the market.

Companies are drawn towards digital services and/or digital platforms today but the apprehensiveness over the loss of existing or potential customers due to unsatisfactory service remains. While most enterprises have more or less accepted the Chatbot trend and are providing a complete digital experience for their customers, some still prefer a human touch or intervention to the transaction.

At times, the communication channel of the chatbot may hit a dead end, and to avoid such situations the most important thing is to have common and critical intents fed to the Bot. But complications could still pop up post ironing all teething issues. The AI Chatbot may be functioning properly but may fail in considering the limits and be unable to deliver information at its best level of proficiency during a customer conversation. At such critical juncture, it is important for a human to take over the conversation to diffuse the situation and avoid the user from taking away a negative experience from the interaction. To avoid such stray experiences, it is necessary to set the communication patterns and expectations, so that users are not let down due to restricted knowledge or competence during communication.

Organizations willing to invest in chatbots need to choose the right platform and have the BRD (Business Requirement Document) ready in hand. They also need to invest time in designing the intents that are recognised by humans and bots. It is also advisable to use a human-agent-based bot, with clear indicators for the agent to understand and pick up the conversation from the bot, to ensure a seamless transition of the customer’s query.


AI Chatbots can efficiently tap into their understanding of automated workflows and knowledge management to ensure the user has a delightful experience where they had a faster resolution of their concerns assisted by technology, in the right way and at the right time. Chatbots have self-service/self-help features that lead users to pointed solutions, web pages and documents instead of deviating them and wasting time. They can also raise a service request ticket on behalf of the customer with all the communication history for the agent to act precisely. They can even book conference rooms and suggest travel itineraries.

So Customer engagement via AI-driven Chatbots is a trend that is here to stay. AI Chatbots are programmed and well-equipped to deal with customers and respond to their queries without human interference. This not only increases efficiency but makes great strides in reducing the workload of customer support teams and at the same time ensures a smooth transition for the customer.

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Head, Automation Practice

Data References:

Top 12 Benefits of Chatbots: Comprehensive Guide [2020 update], MAY 12, 2020 by AI Multiple based on Drift’s 2018 State of Chatbots Report.

What Is a Chatbot and How Is It Changing Customer Experience? APRIL 25, 2019 by Salesforce Blog.

Chatbot Report 2019: Global Trends and Analysis, APRIL 19, 2019 by ChatBot Magazine

4 Evolving Technologies That Are Empowering Chatbots by AITHORITY, JAN 16, 2020

Two-out-of-three Americans interact with AI chatbots, but we still prefer humans by ZDNET, MAY 18, 2019

Conversational AI Statistics: NLP Chatbots in 2020 by FEB 21,2020

Getting to Gold with ‘Accelerated Processes’

Transactions and Services 
It’s amazing that organizations make huge efforts to conduct many basic transactions – Purchasing, Order Management, HR, Payroll and Financials. On the other hand, it is the nuances in these very transactions that differentiate the organization. 
These are the CORE transactions- critical to the success of the business and priceless as a knowledge body. They are pure Gold. They are not just transactions – they are services offered to stakeholders.
Even after realising the value of transactions, the newfound wisdom just stayed in my head – except for the occasional coffee time gloating over the importance of transactions. But it stayed in a more profound way these services are a potential differentiator – though I could not put my finger on how to go about that differentiation. Partly because of the obvious challenges that come with targeted differentiation. Differentiation, if ‘slow’, does not create the intended impact. Many of these core services have been customized to suit business company business processes. There are many steps of the workflows, steps that wait on people to complete them. This creates bottlenecks and slows down the process.
Cut to -A few years ago, we at CMS IT took a conscious decision to make automation our key services differentiator in helping our customers achieve their digital transformation goals. Service differentiation is not just about managing the process but about adding value through it. Improved processes, while they do have the obvious and quick gains in terms of CSAT and improved sales- it also has a transformational impact concerning overall stakeholder confidence and building a culture of excellence. Our approach is to look at each of the processes as an SLA driven service and then go about streamlining the process, monitoring the SLA and putting in place a continuous improvement framework. These CORE processes of the organization have to be a part of any meaningful attempt at digital transformation. After all, in the hunt for Gold, we were not willing to settle for silver or bronze on behalf of our customers. How do we achieve these superior efficiencies? It’s important to identify superior technology and deliver it with domain-specific interventions. A good solution should be delivered by experts in the domain who can think through the current day challenges and future possibilities. Domain expertise is key – Gold is better off in the hands of a Goldsmith.

The Rediscovery

Questioning what we thought we knew 
In a typical ERP implementation, during the solution design phase, transactions are evaluated in detail. The upstream process, the downstream process and the multiple ways in which these processes can be executed. But it often leaves out one very critical aspect that is often the difference between a successful and unsuccessful implementation- the design of the workforce. To be fair, successful project managers spend a lot of time in training the workforce. Enter Robotic Process Automation (RPA). With RPA we can now target to transform the workforce along with the process. Here is a tool that can streamline like never before.
More importantly – the question is whether the core processes can take a quantum leap. Is the workforce designed to execute the process with zero errors? Is the workforce designed to generate data for streamlining of the process? And are we generating analytics on the efficacy of the processes and indeed the bottlenecks?
The new-age transaction framework must include RPA for all these reasons and more.
Building in Durability
Our core transactions no matter how well designed they are- are learning processes. In a pure people dependent process, the learning resides with individuals. Should we not move towards making the learnings off transactions available to all those who transact in the future?
Take the simple aspect of duplication in the supplier or customer lists. While traditional ERP’s offer tools to merge genuine duplications – it’s a known fact that these lists in several organizations are struggling with duplicate entries. Is there an opportunity to streamline the list of supply chain partners? Can we entrust the task of maintaining this list to an automated digital employee who is constantly on the lookout for any slip in the quality of data?
Looking at the future
The future is a step away from the past and yet everyone I speak to in the industry is aspiring for that quantum leap. They want the knowledge of past transactions and yet they want to do everything radically differently in the future. There is also the aspect of scalability. How do we make the transaction processing capability of the organization scalable and de-scalable? These are not questions that we ask of ourselves in a traditional ERP or enterprise solutions implementation. So why ask them now?
RPA Bots and Intelligent Bots
We all love our colleagues (well at least some of them 😊) and for someone like me who tends to play long innings in organizations – they are a part of everyday life. Many of them become friends and almost all of them leave a mark in life. The future of work involves some of those colleagues along with others who can do none of the water cooler conversations and lunchtime bickering that is expected of them. They are the RPA bots and intelligent bots.
In the future – especially in the core transactions will have both kinds of colleagues. They will also have human employees. The colleagues who have coffee with us are the ones who will make the decisions that require intelligence and judgement. While the other set cannot bicker at the coffee table (bots cannot feel emotions – at least not yet) – they are here to empower our human colleagues. Our digital colleagues make a mark by empowering the intellect of our human colleagues. Our digital friends will make work even more exciting by removing mundane repetitive tasks from our plate. What’s more, they deliver at stunning accuracy rates, give consistent deliverables, and provide scalability to the business by being able to work round the clock.
So what might a future digital workforce look like?
It is important to know what thought leaders are saying – the World Economic Forum paper on the future of jobs ( 2018) came up with these interesting predictions – its obvious to them as its obvious to us that the digital workforce while initially creating some redundancies ends up creating significant new types of roles over the medium term.In terms of numbers – we have been getting some very good insights out of our engagements. In the core transactions area – the 100% manual workforce could shift to 50% digital workforce. What’s more the overall effort in doing mundane repetitive tasks will also change.    
Thumb rule – a 10 member PO data entry team will be 3  human workers and 3 bots. So what will happen to the human-workers? My advice is that if you are one of the 10 human workers – your aspiration should be – not to remain as a part of the 3 remaining in that team, but to move to value-added allied functions which are enabled by the onset of digital. The PO entry staff should aspire for supply chain analyst or supplier development roles. Many of them could become champions of the digital approach. And how about building skills to manage a workforce of humans and bots working together?
The new digital approach is more about domain expertise than about technology. I’m walking the talk on this- our core RPA team at CMS IT is a techno-functional team whose primary skills are Finance, SCM, HR and payroll.
Mining Gold
Our core transactions – when delivered consistently and accurately make our organization predictable. They are in most cases the first point of interaction with our suppliers, customers and employees. Can we use a digital workforce to ring-fence transactions by gradually eliminating bottlenecks and urgently eliminating mistakes? Can we make our response and resolution time consistent and scalable thus improving our organization’s core? Transactional strength results in strong brand messages to all our stakeholders and separates the women from the girls. If you want to mine gold within your organization, I strongly recommend that the core processes are one of the key places to look for.

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Practice Head - Digital Services

Payroll Automation: Game Changer

Major organizations come across the challenges of managing growing complexity of HR and payroll requirements, let alone the necessity to have stable and adept resources to manage those tasks. Manually processing such painstaking data and information is both time and cost consuming and of course prone to human errors that has further legal implications.
Enterprises need to automate every aspect of their payroll and HR to cost-optimize, streamline and enhance the quality of their functioning to deliver timely and invoke better experience for their employees.
One of the most common reasons for businesses shifting towards payroll automation is the criticality of complaints with strict financial regulations, crucial for future payroll, making it tougher for businesses.
Here’s some key advantages of payroll automation:
Data Collection made easier
Collecting all the important data for payroll process and setting the right format is conventionally the most time-intensive task with multiple reiterations for various departments in varied formats with repeated changes. With automated system in place to update the payroll sheet, the interface is more systematic and seamless.
Payment Calculation
Automated payroll platform makes use of automation software that calculates the salaries and other payments electronically. The results are mostly accurate depending on the validity and correctness of the given inputs.
The automated payroll system performs every type of simple and complex payments – be it hourly, overtime, salaries, commissions, bonuses, pay raises, wage deductions, auto payments and more. Remarkably, automation payroll system has made the manual cheque writing a story of tomorrow. The automated system generates paychecks for direct account debit.
Precise Data Validation
The traditional payroll process requires hours to be spent on for proper validation for manually checking all the spreadsheets and verification of individual data, followed by checking the outcome of it. On the other hand, using an automated validation process, the set-up of payroll system is adjusted as per the organization and departments specific and unique parameters along with tolerance factors such as pay hikes and net costs.
The algorithm takes the instructions and performs the validation as per process requirements and the protocol is triggered in easy steps. Your precious resources can be freed of their repetitive and time-consuming tasks of spending hours and rather focus on amending the errors and work towards improvising the process of correction of errors.
Smooth Task Management
Similar to automated validation of data, the repetitive tasks can be scheduled and accomplished in short span through automation. The effort ensures a quick, smooth and error-free execution of simple repetitive tasks on-time. In addition, those tasks that previously needed data transfer can be immediately triggered once the previous task is completed. In case of other tasks, the payroll team receives notification for the pending errands.
An important example is of processing pay slips to the HR system after the payroll process is completed. Instead of completing the payroll, initiate payments and take a PDF copy of each pay slip, send them to HR team to be uploaded to the HR program, the automated payroll platform can automatically populate the pay slips to the automated HR information system (HRIS) the minute they are ready. This also leverages the employees to access their pay slips online.
Brief Process Window
Every payroll action of automated system saves time and result in uptime, thus minimizing each payroll cycle time – reducing them to shorter cycles. This further translates into processing more data in less time with fewer amends since most of the data delivered is accurate and complete, upping the payroll team cost savings per cycle besides saving the time and resources.
A manual input and management of payroll system entails the payroll to be processed by a resource and thus can be error prone and a slower procedure than an automated system. Automating payroll processes save payroll team a lot of time and effort.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.