Intelligent Automation

Rakesh Khanma and Alex Lyashok

Written by Alina Manaig

How would you feel saying your confession to a machine? More so, this machine responds to you and all you need to do is wait for a printout of your penance while the machine says it’s final message, “if you don’t comply, you will go straight to hell.” This video, exemplifying automation, was played to open the session entitled Scaling Automation Initiatives with Intelligent Automation. We may not have a confession machine yet and we may never have one, but this video showed us automation’s endless possibilities.

Have you heard of Hatsune Miku? She is a humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesizer application developed by Crypton Future Media. The name “Hatsune Miku” came from combining Japanese words hatsu (first), ne (sound), and miku (future), which means “the first sound from the future.” Portrayed as a 16-year-old girl with long turquoise twin tails, she is the first of Crypton’s “Character Vocal Series.” In short, she is a rock star hologram!

Hatsune Miku performing in one of her concerts

Imagine seeing all of these! This is the future right here — the explosion of intelligent automation. Since this was my first NASSCOM forum, I didn’t know what to expect. As I sat in this very first session I chose to attend, I knew that it was, indeed, a good choice as it has set the bar high for the whole three-day conference.

The speakers walked us through the automation journey and how Robotics Process Automation (RPA) would be like in 2017. RPA refers to the use of computer software that controls and automates rule-based processes without the need for human supervision. RPA can actually make our work 10 times better and two times faster. Take the manual processing of one invoice as an example; this process can take up three minutes of a person’s time, while automating this process would result in needing fewer people (five times less) and cutting completion time in half. Now, who wouldn’t want to have such a process in their organization?

One example cited was the case of Standard Bank, one of South Africa’s largest financial services groups, which operates in 20 countries across Africa and other key markets around the world. The said bank has actually cut down its loan application processing from 22 weeks to just five minutes! Having such process fully-automated sped up everything and has become a real treat for their customers. This is just one example, but with RPA, productivity is endless.

However, due to the fast and ever-changing pace of the digital era, RPA can actually become a thing of the past. Chatbots (a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods) are now available and cognitive services (vision, speech, language, and search application programming interface) may be integrated into an application or platform of your choice.

This is where we are now, this is how far we have come. The million-dollar question is, will it be man versus machine? Let us not tilt at windmills; it will never be man versus machine. Man will always propel technology and supervise automation. The questions we need to ask ourselves should be, is our youth ready? How will all this affect the job market? Our entry-level/skilled workers will definitely be impacted due to the threat of their jobs disappearing. So what do we need to do to prevent this from happening? It is, now, every individual’s responsibility to re-skill and re-tool oneself. The digital age is unpredictable and we need to have the right mindset and be ready to embrace change and technology.