Roundtable: Talking Smart Robots with Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work

There’s nothing quite like a robust discussion on a topic you’re passionate about — that’s why my colleagues and I try to make time for “roundtables” centered around the future of automation. With every moment that passes, it seems technology takes another leap forward, so it’s important to step back once in a while and chat about the bigger picture for the future of work.

For this standout discussion, we talked about the genesis of process automation for today’s large organizations and the outsourcing industry. We also spoke about the all-important nexus between Big Data and Analytics and what we at Cognizant call Intelligent Automation.

Joining me for the Video Roundtable on Google Hangout were two Cognizant colleagues of mine, Kevin Benedict and Robert Brown. Both Kevin and Rob are part of Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work (cFOW). Excerpts from Rob’s and my answers follow. (Of course, I also urge you to check out the video when you have time to take in the full discussion).

So let’s get started!

Kevin: We are hearing a lot about Intelligent Automation in the industry … What’s that all about? How is Cognizant’s automation practice different from the offerings of other service provider firms?

Rob and Matt:

Intelligent Automation: Cognizant’s term for smart robots that automate processes to complement smart people. Intelligent Automation is enabled by a powerful, proprietary framework of technology, methodology, best practices tools and integrated analytics. It helps business leaders to LEARN from their processes AND meet the dual mandate of run better, run differently.

[NOTE: Gartner calls this “Orchestration (Intelligent Process Autonomic Services)”: “the ability to enable a process through configurable autonomics”].

The reality is that digital labor won’t supplant knowledge labor, but rather work in tandem to make smart humans smarter and businesses more agile. In fact, many of Cognizant’s clients find the greatest benefit of Intelligent Automation is accelerating their journey toward the next, and fast approaching, levels of process automation and analytics.

Kevin: Lots of talk about the real benefit of process automation being all the powerful data it generates. Is it really meaningful data or just lots of it?

Rob and Matt:

In the right hands, it’s incredibly meaningful. Intelligent Automation drives not only efficiency gains but provides critical business value by generating rich data that can extend the creative problem-solving capabilities of human beings.

Our automation technology generates gigabytes of “audit log data” per client per day — available to Cognizant analysts focused on root-cause analysis and predictive process optimization. Instead of reacting to issues, we are preventing them from reoccurring and delivering even greater outcomes to our clients. A great example can be found with the growing number of healthcare payers who are using process data to fight off fraud like Dan Hudson points out here:

Going even further, data feeds the Artificial Intelligence elements of automation; it improves analysis and “decisioning” capabilities. It may help clinical diagnostics systems make better treatment recommendations. It may improve recommendations for financial portfolio management. It could be used to optimize loan approval processes or streamline medical validations for faster treatments.

Another way of exploring how automation is evolving is with the “Do, Think and Learn” continuum:

Kevin: Rob and Matt, a final question for this chapter of our roundtable. In the industrial revolution, people feared that the human job market, as they knew it, would disappear. That didn’t happen. But are critics right this time?

Rob and Matt:

In the ‘20s and ‘30s, as factories were retooling themselves for those eras’ waves of technology, workers responded by adapting and developing skills complimentary to these new innovations. Electrical machines like typewriters, Dictaphones, assembly and production machines all created roles and opportunities that were new for that era. Later, those bookkeeping, clerical and other repetitive positions were replaced again by automation and technology (PCs and word processing replaced typing pools for example).

Most studies suggest that is happening again, just maybe not as fast as some want it to. We already see examples of that in digital arts (computer-based graphic design and illustration, digital media and content creation), and social media management positions just to name a few.

Kevin: I think that aspect of this discussion, the future of jobs in the face of all this automation and digitization, is a great topic for another video roundtable. I look forward to talking with you both again soon!

As you can tell, Intelligent Automation is on the cusp of big things. From rote automation and onto deep learning and AI, the future looks bright! There might be bumps in the road, but we’re excited to see how these technologies and the resulting data will help businesses make great jumps forward. Interested in more? Drop me a line or watch the full video below: