Digital transformation has been one of the major drivers of growth in the modern economy. Companies implementing automation have reaped significant benefits and gained advantage over their competitors, allowing them to drive down costs and build innovative solutions to problems. As companies increasingly digitize systems and processes to drive increased productivity, creativity and profits, many are looking to the future, wondering what new trends will be the driver of growth in years to come. This brief blog post will explore some of those current and emerging trends.
Digital transformation trends for 2017 and beyond
As early digital transformation initiatives mature, companies will increasingly look to more sophisticated Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to multiply the productivity of their human workforce. Existing technologies such as IoT will continue to become more prevalent and useful while emerging technologies, such as general purpose AI, will become increasingly viable.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is already a major part of the digital revolution, allowing companies to automate, monitor and improve physical processes. In an example of the technology’s capabilities, leading automotive innovator Tesla recently implemented “over the air” upgrades for their cars, allowing customer to keep their firmware current more easily.  IoT is also having a particularly large impact in the manufacturing industry, which spent $178 billion on IoT initiatives in 2016 alone. That spending will continue to increase as IoT begins to provide a larger benefit and automation technologies allow a greater number of processes to be performed without significant input from human workers.
Data gathering and analytics have provided incalculable benefits to companies. With the rise of RPA, this will only continue to increase. As companies begin increasingly leveraging data to power and improve automated processes, it will be possible to gain insights and identify bottlenecks, helping to improve overall productivity. Analytics also allows for innovative new products and solutions. Uber is using big data and advanced analytic technology to improve surge pricing, identify subpar drivers and deliver more effective service to users.  RPA solutions also further enable the automated collection and monitoring of data, making this one of the most important trends of the coming years.
The underlying intelligence behind automation is powered by a wide range of technologies, from machine learning to cognitive computing. As these technologies develop and new innovations become market ready, automation will become increasingly powerful and general purpose. IBM’s Watson allows users to rapidly build customer service chat bots, classify visual content, translate natural language and predict personalities.  New solutions will be able to learn and build on their mistakes, becoming more effective as they are used. This will drive unprecedented growth in automation, allowing companies to leverage their human workforce more effectively and drive growth.
Innovative RPA Applications
Companies are constantly looking for more ways to apply automation in their operations in order to improve productivity and reduce costs. As technology advances, a greater number of tasks will be performed entirely by the automated workforce. HR, customer service, finance and a wide range of other fields are already seeing automated processes keep track of receipts, store and retrieve documentation, track timesheets and monitor and even fix IT issues. Today, healthcare providers are even using RPA to analyze population health, coordinate care and monitor patient wellbeing.  As technology advances, we will see the list of automated tasks expand significantly, with increasingly few areas not at least partially automated.
Although the digital revolution is already well under way, there is still significant area in which companies can improve their existing systems and increase the application of RPA. As technologies advance and people find new applications for existing solutions, automation and digital initiatives will continue to become more prevalent. There is little chance that the digital transformation will slow down anytime soon, and companies that don’t keep up will inevitably be left behind by more adaptable competitors.