Looking toward a new year always brings excitement, and with the seemingly limitless potential of automation and AI, it’s safe to say the future is a bright one. But before we start the new year, we think 2022 deserves a review—here’s how we saw automation and AI change over the last year.
There’s a Greater Focus on Customers
Research from our 2022 Automation Pulse Report revealed that customers are getting more and more attention. In fact, there was a 21% increase year-over-year in respondents stating the customer is the most important aspect to consider, a change from 2021, when consumers leaned more strongly towards the employee.
According to Gartner, In 2021, 66% of organizations ranked competing on the basis of customer experience as central to their strategy. In 2023, 86% of surveyed leaders expect to compete on the basis of CX.1
This indicates that executives responsible for building customer-centric companies see the need to build customer-focused processes, but getting there requires a major mentality shift. Businesses have to transfer their leadership, employees, and culture from product centricity toward customer centricity, and leadership must also transform policies and procedures, employee rewards, and organizational leadership to provide the customer-oriented outcomes of satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty.
Ethical AI Took Center Stage
As we predicted at the beginning of the year, AI Ethics has surged in popularity.
In October, The White House released a Blueprint for AI Bill of Rights, which stirred up conversations about AI and its place in governmental agencies and society. And although the Blueprint isn’t a formal policy, it has sparked discussions on the role of governance in AI—including steps for future alignment on legal language surrounding AI, as well as priorities and guiding principles.
A more widely covered event—Elon Musk’s firing of Twitter’s ethical AI team—has sparked discussions around the importance of prioritizing ethical AI as organizations increase their spend on AI investments heading into 2023.
It’s no longer enough to deliver only the technological capabilities of AI—software vendors must ensure that AI is used responsibly. Successful organizations will establish ethics advisory boards that work with stakeholders to reach agreements about relevant and actionable AI ethics guidelines.
Currently, the ethical AI code of conduct that many vendors have adopted is that AI must be:
- Human centered and socially beneficial: AI solutions should be designed to support human goals and objectives, with human and society needs in mind.
- Fair and accountable: Fairness should be a principle in every interaction; be impartial, avoid any type of discrimination: and eliminate undesirable bias.
- Explainable and transparent: Technology vendors need to ensure AI decisions are explainable and customers control their own data models
- Secure and safe: AI solutions should be implemented in a way that the data used is secure to protect people’s privacy.
A new wave of AI-led software providers has already begun to guide organizations toward regulated AI and related technologies as the benefits become accessible to everyone.
Recession Fears Fueled Technology Adoption
Nearly every industry is feeling the constraints of a tight labor market, unsure how to execute while facing a gap in resources. One of the biggest impacts of this trend is the ripple effect it creates for the end consumer. For customers expecting faster-than-ever service, this can result in less-than-satisfactory experiences.
The good news? A recession doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. On the contrary, it’s during times like these that organizations look to cut costs, targeting primarily all those inefficient, manual processes. To tackle these inefficiencies during periods of economic uncertainty, businesses have turned to new technology—seeking digital transformation in the midst of resource shortages.
For many organizations, IDP and automation have become strategic components of digital transformation initiatives. This technology provides resilience and productivity when it’s needed most, and can be the missing piece for businesses hoping to weather the storm.
Doubling down on digital transformation efforts can also support company strategy and performance. New technology, used correctly, creates better customer experiences, increases agility, and improves productivity.
Unstructured Data Pushed the Boundaries of IDP
As digital transformation initiatives matured, businesses have shifted their focus from automating singular tasks to automating end-to-end processes. To accommodate for these ever expanding expectations, intelligent document processing (IDP) providers are pushing their solutions beyond structured and semi-structured documents to help enterprises extract data insights from unstructured documents, supporting the automation of increasingly complex processes.
Adoption of IDP has climbed as companies that chose to invest heavily in robotic process automation (RPA) have come to realize that RPAlacks the ability to read unstructured document data—a roadblock to unlocking greater efficiency through automation.
For example, within the finance industry, the typical case management process involves manually reading, processing, and transcribing any documents related to that case. This creates a process bottleneck, translating to significant time lost on each claim processed.
By adding an IDP solution to an existing RPA deployment, companies can reduce the time it takes agents to process case documents by as much as 60%, giving organizations more time to focus on higher-value activities that contribute to providing better customer experiences.
2023 Will be Strong for IDP
In 2022, market pressure showed businesses and public sector agencies the value of intelligent automation tools. Customer needs, recession fears, and advancements in IDP solutions pushed more businesses to automation tools, and the focus on ethical AI has paved the way for more responsible AI applications.
In 2023, automation will play an increasingly large role as an essential technology. As businesses look to build resilience, automation stands as the means to improve efficiency, provide better customer experiences, and create favorable business outcomes.
1. Gartner, “5 Action Items for Executives to Lead Organizations from Product to Customer Centricity”, August 17, 2022.
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