May 22, 2024

Will Human

Intelligent Automation can transform airline and caterer back office efficiencies. Digital transformation and service automation specialist Will Human tells Julie Baxter how...

Founder and Director – Quartus Gain

Q. Why is technology so key to business efficiency post-pandemic

A: The pandemic is having an enormous impact on the aviation industry. Revenues for 2020 totalled $328 bn – 40% of the previous year’s, with 2019 traffic not expected to return until 2024. There have been significant job losses and some of the deepest cuts were within the back-office functions. Now just one remaining worker is managing responsibilities once handled by many employees. By utilising Intelligent Automation (IA), businesses can help these staff and create a solid foundation for scaling up as restrictions are lifted and confidence returns.

Q. What is Intelligent Automation and how wide-spread is its use?

A: IA is business-process improvements enabled by a suite of digital technologies. It supports the worker by automating repetitive, replicable, and routine tasks and can also radically improve customer journeys by simplifying interactions and speeding up processes. A survey by Bain & Company found more than 80% of companies are accelerating automation efforts now.

Q. How does AI help in practice?

A: The digital enabler consists of four core technologies. First is robotic process automation (RPA): a process automation tool that automates routine tasks such as data extraction and capturing through existing user interfaces. It can perform rules-based tasks such as accessing emails, performing calculations and reconciliations, capturing data and checking files.

Then there is machine learning (ML) – software algorithms identifying patterns in structured and unstructured data which are used to develop a knowledge base and formulate predictions based on that data which is then fed back into the process.

Third is natural-language processing and generation (NLP & NLG): the use of artificial intelligence to produce and process written or spoken narrative in natural language from a dataset by following rules to translate observations. Finally, cognitive AI technologies combine machine learning and natural-language processing & generation to build virtual agents/chatbots which can converse with users to perform tasks, send information, and push alerts. Cognitive agents can be used to support employees and customers over the phone or via chat, for example in customer service centres.

The convergence of these technologies produces automation capabilities that dramatically elevate business value and enable end-end process automation, releasing employees from mundane repetitive tasks and enabling them to focus on problem solving, creativity and tasks that require empathy.

Q. What value can this deliver?

According to McKinsey, several companies have managed to automate 50-70% of tasks with the help of IA, in turn reducing the through-put time by 50-60%, yielding an ROI in triple digit percentages. IA is revolutionising the way work gets done in many organisations by delivering seven key compelling benefits…

Accuracy: As digital workers can only perform their duties based on a set of pre-defined rules, this ensures consistent process compliance and 100% accuracy. In turn this reduces the risk of transactional errors, missed steps or mistakes in applying rules and hence delivers cost savings in query resolutions whilst improving data quality.
Speed: It speeds the process, as IA dramatically reduces process cycle time with handling times typically falling by half or more. This can result in