Digital transformation takes a customer-driven, digital-first approach to every aspect of business, including business models, customer experiences, processes, and operations. It utilizes digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and hybrid cloud, to leverage data and drive intelligent processes, faster and smarter decision-making, and real-time responses to market disruption. Ultimately, digital transformation changes customer expectations and creates new business opportunities.
The automation market was already experiencing strong growth before the pandemic, due to advances in AI and other automation technologies. Robotic process automation (RPA) is a highly successful automation tool available to large enterprises and small businesses alike. RPA offers cost savings, enhanced efficiency, improved customer experience, and easy implementation. It can also reveal new opportunities for organizations to prioritize and continuously improve their operations within an end-to-end automation platform.
But traditional automation programs are fraught with challenges, including a shortage of employees with the software development expertise to deploy and maintain them. This talent gap can create backlogs and adversely affect business.
The low-code/no-code promise
Low-code programming is a visual approach to software development that enables the author to create an artifact with anywhere between 1% and 99% less program writing. A low-code model promises faster application delivery and a more accessible user experience — even for “citizen developers” or business users — to empower users to build applications to make their work easier without IT assistance.
But the true answer for business users is no code. No-code programming, in which many digital tools, including RPA bots, can be created without writing a single line of code, utilizes intuitive visual interfaces and familiar drag-and-drop capabilities. Technical users may then implement low-code solutions to augment an application (e.g., with more complex logic or pre- and post-processing), but tech-savvy business users, those with vast domain knowledge but limited manual coding skills, can handle the bulk of their own day-to-day automation tasks.
Rebuild and empower your workforce with no-code digital labor
The most exciting developments in this space are for digital labor — software-based “employees” designed to work alongside humans. In this type of hybrid workforce, humans can train and delegate work to these digital employees, which are powered by AI to act with confidence and successfully complete work. A digital employee can take care of a wide range of menial, repetitive, and programmable tasks across multiple functional areas, including marketing, sales, finance, and HR, via an intuitive interface. This frees up people to focus on more high-value responsibilities, such as customer service relationships, complex brainstorming, and strategic collaborations.
Technology providers offer both low- and no-code solutions to bring exciting new functionality to market quickly, and free trials and hackathons also provide a valuable opportunity for developers, business users, designers, and even students to get hands-on experience right away. The recent “Build-a-Bot Challenge,” with thousands of participants worldwide, tasked developers, business analysts, students, and designers with developing a bot for a social or industry use case with a free trial of IBM’s AI-infused RPA tool. The contest, with the tagline “Think Outside the Bot,” yielded a range of innovative new use cases, such as AI-automated prior authorizations in healthcare, bots to help fight depression, smart survey tools, broadcast teaching tools with real-time interaction, and a 24/7 tutoring service.
This is a new and exciting market with far-reaching potential, and organizations can vet a prospective vendor’s low-code and no-code claims carefully with a hands-on proof of concept. Instead of taking weeks or months to deploy automation, organizations of all sizes are using low- and no-code technology to reap the benefits of automation faster than ever before.
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To learn more about cost savings and other business benefits of RPA, read the IBM RPA Total Economic Impact™ study from Forrester Research.