Great Expectations for Cognitive Automation
Charles Dickens’ penultimate and perhaps most brilliant novel, Great Expectations, depicts the personal development of an orphan named Pip. A boy with many talents, his appearance and standing in society would not have permitted him by normal processes to become much. But the character Abel Magwitch saw more in the boy and invested in him, making for a ripe and successful young man. It was more than money that made Pip – it was wit and dedication and patience. Ultimately it was seeing beyond the monetary horizon and trusting that there was more than meets the eye.
The cost factor used to trump everything in business. It is a weighted argument in every decision. Yet the new kid on the block, who is shifting things around, is bringing other factors to the table that may outsmart old strategies: Cognitive Automation.
Many people approach the decision to invest in cognitive automation for their services at a cost-analysis level. To do only so means to sadly overlook a myriad of additional benefits that may not surrender an immediate dollar sign.
Both clients of service providers and the providers themselves see an increasing expectation to automate their services. According to a study published in 2016 by L. Willcocks and M. Lacity, 48% of the surveyed companies think that 25-50% of their services can and should be automated. An additional 24% agreed on the same thing for 50-75% of their services. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities that cognitive automation permits, but they may be missing what this technology could offer in its entirety.
The study shows that the majority of clients still choose their service providers for sourcing decisions based on the talent of the providers’ staff and not on their technological capabilities. Yet the service providers who have invested heavily in cognitive automation report more than just cost savings for their clients. They also produce a lower rate of error, faster operations and 24/7 coverage, according to the report. Others report an increased “right first-time” processing (which is highly attractive, since often up to 60% of work is actually re-work), as well as improvements in regulatory compliance and business insight/analytics from automated processes.
Interestingly it is generally the IT divisions of companies who resist introducing cognitive automation. The normal fear of change and the concerns for incompatibility of processes result in the typical time for full configuration to be around 5 years. Companies seem to be quick to embrace cognitive automation when they hear of it, but in reality it takes years to implement.
Cognitive automation, especially in the service industry, holds great promises for the future. But it is a long journey that needs patience and resilience. Companies need to find their Pip among automation providers and see beyond the dollar sign. In this technology every investor has every right to possess great expectations.