Business leaders are asking themselves, “Why automation and why now?” Automation brings on a relentless drive towards more productivity. It releases the mind from routine thinking and encourages creativity. Recently, technology has become mature enough for real-world application, and computing power has increased exponentially. Our ability to apply science to more areas and the increase of access to data has led to a perfect environment for automation. In this article we’ll teach you how to implement automation in your organization.
Automation has been around since the Industrial Revolution and was leveraged in factories, farming, weaponry, and refineries. In the present day, automation plays a part in booking a hotel or flight online, elections, money utilization, journalism, mortgage and loan processing, and other creative pursuits. In the future, automation could play a part in like medicine, QSR, court judgments, pilotless commercial airline flights, and unmanned drillships.
Through automation, you can release humans from routine, mechanical, monotonous tasks and processes and give them more time to do more thoughtful, creative work. You’ll be able to do more with what you’ve already got. Automating processes and tasks can help drastically improve productivity and creativity within your organization.
Digital Twin: A Core Concept of Automation
A core concept behind how to implement automation is the digital twin—a software counterpart to a real asset. All of the data and functions related to the real-world asset also apply to the digital twin. Assets might include a machine, a body of knowledge, a collection of humans, a function in a process flow, an entire factory, etc. You could create a software replica (digital twin) of any of these real-world assets and begin to develop a plan for automating the work associated with the asset. Experimenting with plans for automation in a virtual, simulation space can help your organization explore different options and scenarios dealing with potentially automating processes, machinery, etc. before making it a reality.
Technology of Automation
There are several types of technology that make automation possible. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), Natural Language Processing, graph databases, virtual/augmented/mixed reality, and blockchain are just a few of the technology pieces that play a part in bringing automation into reality.
- Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): AI can learn the correlation between inputs and outputs. It learns based on the actions and rules that it learns from human action over time. AGI works a little differently. It has no pre-supposition or context. It learns how to learn on its own and does not require modeling or input from humans in order to learn.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP is about getting systems to understand humans without humans having to conform to computer input, which makes the workload easier for humans. This allows technology to understand awkwardly asked questions, provide answers, and explain the reasoning behind the answer.
- Graph databases: Graphs are a great way to model data that won’t neatly fit into the Cartesian format of rows and columns. With graphs, you can represent information through nodes (objects) and edges (relationships between objects).
- Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR): These technologies have become faster and more accurate over time. They have the ability to scan the room and recognize and name objects in the scene. The ability to take a human, put them in a scene where the system can automatically represent objects that the human is observing will be a key part of automation technologies going forward.
- Blockchain: Blockchain is a universal distributing ledger that is the basis for the automation of transactions. It can make things happen automatically and electronically, and it will eventually be the ubiquitous standard for everything we do through transactions.
How to Implement Automation of a Complex System
There are five general steps to follow when automating a complex system.
- Make a drawing—use graphics as a language to describe systems.
- Identify the key actors in the system and their relationships to each other.
- Write all of the information down in a clear form for others to view and comment on.
- Test and validate the automated system.
- Deploy the automated system.
What does this all mean? Over the next five years, we will see an unprecedented wave of automation. It may seem scary or intimidating, but regardless of whether you’re for or against automation, it is inevitably coming. It is having an increasing effect on today’s workforce, and we can’t stop it. The only thing you can control is how to implement automation and thrive in the new workforce model. Automation is already producing promising and uplifting results, like how automation in healthcare is helping staff and patients. It would be smart to start exploring the possibilities for how to implement automation within your organization, whether it’s with machines, people, processes, etc. There is no wrong answer. Try drawing out a diagram and highlighting areas that could benefit from automation.