Sep 06 2022

What Is Hyperautomation? The Case for an End-to-End Automation Discipline

The growing tech-meets-culture trend aims to build automation into the center of the organization, rather than into a small number of specific tasks.

In many ways, automation has been a saving grace for many organizations, helping both large and small businesses take basic tasks out of the hands of employees who could be performing more critical work.

But there’s room to push the idea of automation even further — especially if the environment is amenable to a more in-depth approach. With the right push and the right technology, there may be room to put an in-depth shift in automation into play: hyperautomation.

What Is Hyperautomation?

Hyperautomation is an approach that aims to make automation part of a broader digital transformation.

Earlier this year, the research firm Gartner named hyperautomation as a top strategic trend, adding that the technology, if properly implemented, “enables scalability, remote operation and business model disruption.”

Hyperautomation reflects the need to scale automation organizationally, says John Burke, CTO of the research firm Nemertes. 

“With hyperautomation, really, the goal is to get out of the situation where most automation is really task-focused or very narrowly restricted to a specific business operation,” Burke says, adding that the concept of hyperautomation, when properly implemented, should be felt organizationwide.

“It’s looking to have a broader scope of action to do more, and a broader scope of participation, that more people’s jobs would be touched by automation or more people would have a hand in building automation,” he says.

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Hyperautomation vs. Robotic Process Automation

Hyperautomation reflects a step beyond the more common approach of robotic process automation, which focuses on shifting tedious tasks to software-based tools as a strategy to automate large portions of the business and IT infrastructure.

This approach to RPA has its place, but it is more tactical and less use-case driven, Burke says.

Amit Saxena, vice president and general manager of Automation Engine for ServiceNow, says that, from a technical perspective, hyperautomation distinguishes itself from alternative approaches like Integration Platforms as a Service by taking a more holistic approach to automating tasks.

“So what is now happening, which analysts have started picking up on, is the convergence of these technologies into a single platform, a set of tools our customers can use,” Saxena explains. “And that’s easier said than done because these tools have different degrees of maturity. How do you actually bring it all together?”

To put it another way, hyperautomation often encourages the use of a centralized platform to deliver the benefits of an automated process organizationally.

RELATED: Learn how ServiceNow can help deliver a better customer experience.

Hyperautomation Implementation: The Roles Tools and Software Play

From a technology perspective, hyperautomation casts a broad net, incorporating capabilities from several technology disciplines. One of those tools is RPA, which can be implemented as one element of a hyperautomation discipline.

As businesses implement hyperautomation, Burke says, “they’re going to look across information about processes or they’re going to watch what people do while they’re working day in and day out, and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got something that we can automate. And here’s the audition for it. Test this, make sure it works. You can use it.’”

Other tools that can come in handy within hyperautomation include low-code or no-code tools and technologies with direct application programming interfaces and command-line access. A strong discipline for high programming standards is important as well, Burke says, as are guardrails for given systems to protect security.

While there are many techniques to work into a hyperautomation discipline, the challenge is that not every department needs the same kind of automation, which often means that one type of technology may not solve a problem. ServiceNow’s Saxena notes that this is often a driving factor behind more tactical automation implementation.

“The problem of islands of automation is something real; this needs to be fixed,” Saxena says. “ServiceNow has done our part by providing one platform, one data model, one architecture, for all of our customers’ automation needs, because it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

READ MORE: Find out how automation can accelerate digital transformation.

Saxena suggests that building an approach to hyperautomation that works on a single platform but allows for different use cases under the same implementation can benefit companies because different teams can share what they’ve learned on a single platform rather than on a wide array of tools.

“That’s the difference, and that allows them to have a higher productivity level,” he said. “Because it’s not like four different technology stacks for every single automation, and then you’re just figuring it out.”

Hyperautomation Implementation: The Role Culture Plays

Because hyperautomation reflects a higher level of thinking about automation, it requires, in some ways, a people-centric approach to ensure its success. Nemertes’s Burke explains that automation is most successful when it is tied to an organization’s culture.

“You’ve got to foster a culture of automation if you want to get hyperautomation because you’re basically saying, ‘Hey, let’s get the software to do more of your work,’” he says.

The challenge is that not every employee will appreciate that shift. 

“There are some folks who say, ‘Yay, this part of my work is boring. Let’s get it off my plate,’” Burke says. “And then there are folks who say, ‘Hey, that’s what I get paid for. If I automate, what am I going to do?’ That’s a cultural and a management issue.”

Leadership may be an easier sell on extending automation, according to ServiceNow’s Saxena, in part because “it’s already top of mind in the C-suite.”

John Burke
You’ve got to foster a culture of automation if you want to get hyperautomation.”

John Burke CTO, Nemertes

“They’re looking for increased efficiency, they’re looking for productivity, they’re looking for increasing the employee satisfaction score,” he said. “They’re looking for better customer experiences across the organization. They’re looking for top-line growth. And all of this is directly proportional to employee experience and customer experience. So, it’s easier to get that support right now than before.”

But with all of this in mind, because hyperautomation is most effective as an end-to-end approach, ensuring that employees embrace it is just as important as building a business case.

What Are Some Examples of Hyperautomation?

Burke notes that use cases for hyperautomation can be found in e-commerce — where many types of business processes are automated, allowing for faster service at scale — as well as manufacturing, especially for factories with warehousing elements.

For example, “reordering stock for the factory, or reordering finished goods from suppliers, ordering packaging materials when they are unloaded, and getting things into the shipping stream,” he says. “All of that can be — and is, in some places — fully automated.”

Saxena describes a multinational manufacturer that had previously used a deeply disjointed process with Excel spreadsheets and email to manage its supply chain. The company reworked its process by relying on ServiceNow App Engine and Automation Engine, which the company credited for a sharply increased satisfaction rate and improvements in safety and downtime.

“They built what they are calling a ‘no surprise’ app,’” he says. “They connected all the systems using our Automation Engine — because, as you can imagine, you can use both legacy and modern APIs in Automation Engine.”

DIVE DEEPER: Discover the 6 steps to better API security.

Is Hyperautomation Right for Your Organization?

For organizations that are undertaking a full digital transformation, hyperautomation has a lot to offer. If a business is well positioned to leverage its benefits in every department, hyperautomation could be worth the cost of retrofitting.

“Automation is much more than just saving time and money,” Saxena says. “It is increasing true productivity and giving the time back to the employees. It changes the employee satisfaction scores, and that’s where true hyperautomation solutions can really make a difference for organizations.”

The challenge that organizations face with implementing hyperautomation in an existing infrastructure is that it has to work with a lot of legacy tools, which will create complications. Burke notes that, in the future, it’s likely that organizations will embrace hyperautomation from the start, rather than attempting to make the change midstream.

“I think the biggest thing that you’ll see is the shift from retrofitting hyperautomation into an existing business to new businesses being built with full end-to-end automation, as far as it can be taken, from the beginning,” he says.

But even for organizations that haven’t gotten to that point, hyperautomation is still worth looking into. For organizations that hope to take a deep dive, CDW ServiceNow Solutions can provide a guide to potential use cases and help with the implementation that will shape the final result.

While no two organizations are alike, embracing automation could make yours run better than ever.

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