Enterprise automation investment to boom, says KPMG – but many organisational issues to tackle yet

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Enterprise investment in the intelligent automation (IA) space is set to hit $232 billion (£x) by 2025 according to a new study from KPMG – but while organisations today have high hopes, they are not ready to reap the benefits yet.

The study, titled ‘Ready, Set, Fail? Avoiding Setbacks in the Intelligent Automation Race’, argues that enterprise spend will skyrocket in the coming years, from $12.4bn today, to $96.4bn by 2023, to $148.8bn by 2024.

As a result, the industry will be markedly different from what we see today. Today, one in three companies (37%) polled said they were examining the potential of cognitive and AI technologies, compared with 24% who were at pilot, or proof of concept. In three years’ time, KPMG argues, half (49%) of companies will be using these technologies at scale.

As the report puts it, it is ‘not clear whether most companies understand that intelligent automation is about changing business processes, and then restructuring the organisation around those new processes now driven by technologies that didn’t exist before.’ But what examples are there of a successful implementation?

The report cites an unnamed bank which used the consultancy firm to develop a virtual assistant and ‘jumped ahead’ in the process. “We helped the bank assess its technology capabilities and limitations,” the report noted. “Then we designed and implemented a virtual assistant framework that could meet its customers’ current needs for common transactions like scheduling payments and future capabilities to proactively receive financial guidance.”

Organisational change is key when delivering such initiatives, the report adds. Respondents strongly agreed that there will be an emergence of centres of excellence with critical intellectual property to help augment these schemes, while siloed organisations will make way for boundary-less firms, incorporating blended teams and roles.

The latter may sound either like heaven or hell depending on one’s world view, yet respondents also agreed that cognitive technologies would augment all aspects of front, middle, and back office processes. Improving the back and middle office was seen as most important by those polled, but improving customer service quality and customer targeting, for instance, were also highly cited.

KPMG itself says it is ‘fairly far along’ in adopting IA, adding that it forecast these new capabilities to affect up to 30% of its work by augmenting human tasks – or in some cases, the company admitted, replacing them.

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