Augmenting with automation, CX and human intelligence: AIIA Podcast insights (ep.11-15)



Seth Adler
04/24/2018

We highlight top intelligent automation insights by leading practitioners from episodes 11-15

automation change hero
"Everything we do is path dependent...if we didn't have those pain points, we would not have learned." Photo by jens johnsson on Unsplash


As many of our readers are aware, the AI & Intelligent Automation Network releases a new podcast episode each week.

Our aim is to provide a voice for the business discipline of intelligent automation. Through personal conversation, we’ve already had the pleasure of interacting with some incredible practitioners in this field.

Episodes 11-15 feature case study anecdotes from Microsoft, the City of Copenhagen, McDonalds, US Coast Guard and Siemens. Within each of these conversations, we’ve garnered dozens of key learning points from each executive’s personal career.

So here are our favorite learnings from episodes 11-15. You can tune in to listen to the rest of the series here or subscribe on iTunes

Episode 11: Rohit Amberker, Microsoft

"Everything that we do today is a path dependent reality," (and how intelligent automation has allowed for more human-led customer experience interaction).

The quote came in the context of Amberker explaining that he’s learned from his failures. His failures have helped him find his path. He wouldn’t be where he is now without the failures:

“Today would not have happened had it not, we're all path dependent. Everything that we do is today is a path dependent reality. Path dependent simply means, 'each something that has happened has brought us to where we are—if we didn't have those pain points, we would not have learned.'

"There's no easy way to reinvent other than go through the pain"

There's no easy way to reinvent other than go through the pain. In a sense those are the battle wounds in some. After sometime, those are the stories that you have to share.”

Later in the interview, Rohit shares his “happy path” intelligent implementation. As the technology has found that “happy path,” (a default scenario featuring extremely limited exceptional or error conditions) his human team is able to better focus on the customer:

“That's where the humans come in for customer empathy, the more human interaction, that's what we are focusing more on. That's something that as a company it's become a very customer centric, there is a clear recognition that we have to be able to focus on 2 per cent more than the 98 per cent, for 98 per cent is technology.”

Episode 12: Mads Andersen, City of Copenhagen

“Our first foray into automation turned out being way more complex than we thought. It turned out that a small process involved 5 or 6 different legacy systems which the human connected.” (And how this is now and for the foreseeable future will be the case as processes that matter are not simple).

Sound familiar? Depending where you are on your journey, you have, are or will experience this exact scenario. There are a few reasons for failed automation implementations. But the two most prevalent are misunderstanding your data and/or misunderstanding your processes.

Episode 13 Henry Lyles, McDonalds

"I’ve been trying to keep up with the times, making sure to innovate myself," (plus, how the enterprise used iterative innovation in intelligent automation).

Here’s another personal quote echoed for the enterprise later on in the interview. In the above quote, Henry is explaining that he’s been able to progress throughout his career through learning new skills, gaining new certifications and understanding technology in new and different ways—iteratively innovating himself.

Wouldn’t you know it? That’s precisely how he and the organization set out on their intelligent automation journey:

“We were looking at some end to end processes that we wanted to do improvements to. Working with a third party vendor, we set criteria of questions that we wanted to educate the employees to say, "When you're thinking about your process, ask these couple of questions about automation.

“Can you do this and do that? We ended up with a list of automation items just based on a simple little bit of education to our employees. It went a long way. Now we have process improvement and automation improvement. We prioritized them and they were the ones we chose to automate.”

Episode 14: Seth Fargen, US Coast Guard

“Make sure your stakeholders understand that the level of risk and the level of effort are both low but the returns are high,” (and how low effort can only be true if you do your homework).

"One of the things we've tried to do is make sure that people understand what RPA is"

The quote follows responses of folks who Fargen approached within the organization due to the upside of intelligent automation:

“One of the things you have to do is realize there are a lot of stakeholders in this process. One of the things we've tried to do is make sure that those people understand what RPA is. We've gone to our CIO, we've gone to our data service people, and gone to various people in financial management, senior management, to make sure that they understand what this is. To make sure that they understand that the level of risk and the level of effort are both low, but the returns are high. You don't get those many opportunities in any organization.”

But it’s what he says earlier in the interview which demonstrates why both risk and effort are low for him:

“I wanted to know what our world of work was. We actually went out and looked in every part of our organization. We came up with 1,300 processes that we do. That's a day of our work. We've gone out, we've documented them all, we've done value stream mapping, some of them we've done LSS projects on. The way we're looking at it, I could take that value stream and say, okay, we eliminated duplications non-value added, but here's a step in here that I have 30 people doing on a daily basis and they're spending 4 hours a day. There's a lot of time being spent. When you examine the process at a deeper level, you say, this is a perfect candidate for a bot.”

He and his team reviewed 1,300 processes before setting out on their intelligent automation journey. They put in ‘high’ effort on the front end to reap the rewards of low effort in the present.

Episode 15: Tobias Unger, Siemens

We finish with a flourish of not one, but three quotes from Tobias.

“Digitalization is understanding technological trends. What does the technology do? How different is it from what I already have?  And how does it integrate into my landscape?” (Or, what do I do that can be augmented by automation, not what do I have that can be automated).

“Digitalization is understanding technological trends. What does the technology do? How different is it from what I already have?  And how does it integrate into my landscape?”

“We have seen that you can have great technology that doesn't produce anything good, and it's better when you just ask your people how to implement and how to run this stuff that you have on the menu because what is my brain against 6,000 or 7,000 other brains thinking about how to solve peculiar problems,” (or, fully engage your human intelligence before you set out to engage artificial intelligence).

“It's not always about the silver bullet. It's more like okay, I see here something different, I see an area where I could improve and then I find the piece that matches it. It's a lot about trial and error because it's so high complexity, you can never know based on testimonials or vendor stories or whatsoever sometimes you really have to try it out and then you are better small and flexible to fail instead of too big to fail,” (Or, be the tortoise not the hare).

Learnings from episodes 11-15:

  •         How intelligent automation has allowed for more human-led customer experience interaction

  •         Processes that matter are not simple

  •         How the enterprise used iterative innovation in intelligent automation

  •         How low effort can only be true if you do your homework

  •         What do I do that can be augmented by automation, not what do I have that can be automated

  •         Fully engage your human intelligence before you set out to engage artificial intelligence

  •         Be the tortoise not the hare

You may also be interested in:

Our 10 pearls of wisdom from the AIIA Podcast (ep.1-10)

AI 2020: the global state of intelligent enterprise

AI Universe: the global AI & automation vendor landscape

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