From significant advances in quantum computing to breakthroughs in nuclear fusion, there were plenty of opportunities to glimpse the future in 2022. But when it comes to technological highlights, no other gained more publicity than AI-based text and image generators such as ChatGPT or Midjourney. These inventions have shown that in some fields of science (like AI), the future isn’t about to come—it’s already unfolding.

And the same can be said about automation.

We already live in a world where about 80% of finance leaders admit that they have adopted RPA or are planning to do so. At the same time, 74% of companies surveyed by Deloitte are implementing Robotic Process Automation, and 50% are getting started with OCR solutions. So the transition to an automated workforce is happening right before our eyes.

Understanding the direction and impact of these changes is crucial for all businesses that want to take advantage of technology to reduce workloads and increase efficiency. To help you achieve that, we’ve listed eight automation trends that will shape the industry in 2023 and beyond.

#1 Low- and no-code automation

Gone are the days of companies relying on specialized programmers to set up, operate, and maintain every piece of software. Instead, for the past couple of years, we’ve seen an influx of low- and no-code website and app creation tools. Now, the time has come for automation solutions also to become more accessible for non-techies.

This approach can benefit everyone: automation companies, the businesses that buy their solutions, and, most importantly, the rank-and-file employees of those businesses. Automation solutions built around visual interfaces that don’t require coding skills allow everyone in the organization to create automation tools that streamline their day-to-day work. In addition to improving efficiency, low- and no-code automation can enable users to find new enhancements, e.g., by incorporating advanced analytics or data models.

It’s easy to imagine how granting individual workers greater agency over tools and processes can lead to higher automation adoption. And indeed, it does—according to UiPath, 29% more processes become automated when businesses launch citizen-developer programs. As more and more companies start to notice that, we can expect to see more low- and no-code automation features in 2023.

#2 AI will continue to empower automation

We mentioned AI in the intro not only because it offered a smooth segue into the list proper but also because of its role in the automation industry. A role that will only become more prominent, as in the upcoming years, the CAGR of natural language processing (NLP) and intelligent document processing are projected to grow by 39% and 34%, accordingly.

By working in tandem with AI, RPA bots can tackle the hurdles of unstructured data to extract content from emails, calls, images, or handwritten notes. This content can be used to train NLP models to automatically process customer emails, handle support tickets, and offer insights along the way.

And let’s not forget about AI’s self-learning abilities. In 2023 and beyond, we’ll see new developments in truly smart automation solutions that accurately predict and react to human behavior, solve problems, and suggest improvements based on historical data.

#3 The growing importance of CIOs

The success of modern businesses increasingly comes down to how much they can make out of the tech that’s available to them. Consequently, CIOs will influence organizations more through their technology initiatives.

That’s because a CIO’s job isn’t only about maintaining the company’s current systems—they must constantly seek improvements and innovate to help the organization meet its goals better and faster. This focus makes automation a fundamental tool for any CIO, even more so since it can be applied across different areas, from cybersecurity to data.

Already, 54% of CIOs drive revenue through automation; this percentage should only grow as CIOs’ efforts have more impact on the direction of their organization.

#4 More integrations

One of the main strengths of automation lies in its flexibility. Virtually any workflow can benefit from Robotic Process Automation and similar solutions to some extent, so it is no surprise that adding more integrations will be one of the top automation trends in 2023.

We’re particularly intrigued to see how this affects front-office processes. Here, aligning RPA with chatbots could allow for easy extraction of data from tickets submitted by clients that can then be automatically processed and resolved without any human intervention. In addition, adding AI to this mix could make talking to chatbots feel much more like a real conversation and mark a breakthrough in customer-facing workflows.

#5 Higher RPA adoption among SMEs

For many businesses, automation answers workforce shortages or when a new hire isn’t an option. That won’t change a bit in 2023—if anything, we expect this trend to intensify as companies face increasing inflation and labor pressure. As a result, optimizing processes for cost and effort efficiency will be at the top of the priority list for many organizations, particularly small- and medium-sized ones.

It’s tempting to think that automated solutions will replace human workers, but that’s not entirely true. In fact, 85% of executives believe automation will lower employee turnover and help attract new talent by reducing onerous workloads. Plus, let’s not forget about the usefulness of Robotic Process Automation in recruitment and HR.

Filling gaps in the company roster and reducing operational costs will likely convince more decision-makers that automation is worth investing in, stimulating its adoption across the entire organization. As a result, the overall efficiency will grow—it’s proven that company-wide automation systems are 40% more productive than individual, piecemeal implementations.

#6 Hyperautomation will drive demand for specialists

Despite the growing popularity of citizen-dev-friendly automation solutions, advanced automation solutions will still require skilled professionals to launch and maintain.

An example of such a solution, and one of the most inspiring new trends in automation, is hyper automation.

As a combination of multiple technologies—such as RPA, AI, ML, intelligent document processing (IDP), analytics, and process discovery—it’s too complex for non-specialized staff. But, at the same time, its benefits are too good to pass on: a self-created digital workforce, faster task completion, enhanced analytics, and working with any type of data are just some of the promised boons of hyper automation.

To implement these potent systems and keep them running, businesses will need the assistance of specialists from various fields, from AI and data scientists to business process experts and automation consultants. This demand will create new job opportunities in the industry and make experienced automation professionals even more valuable than they are now.

#7 The rise of automated cybersecurity

In the age of IoT and increasingly interconnected systems, the need for airtight cybersecurity is greater than ever before. In 2023, automation will remain fundamental in ensuring that valuable and sensitive data is kept safe.

Considering that 95% of cybersecurity breaches result from human error, it’s easy to understand why automated protection is so important—they help reduce or straight up remove human intervention into vulnerable processes where possible. In addition to improved prevention, automated security systems expedite the detection and handling of threats. The outcome is fewer disruptions and less money wasted due to downtime and fines.

AI allows automation developers to push the boundaries of cybersecurity systems even further. For example, equipped with self-learning capabilities, these systems could save and study breach logs to improve response processes against future attacks.

#8 Process mining and automated testing become essential

This final automation trend may be the most exciting. That’s because testing and discovery are crucial in any process.

Process mining and similar discovery solutions help companies identify workflows that are perfectly fit for automation. These tools use AI to analyze existing tasks and find inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and potential improvements faster than traditional business process management methods like workshops.

As the initial cost of large-scope automation initiatives can be steep, any measures that can prevent a costly miss—like reliable metrics or process mining—are invaluable. 82$ of executives already realize that, believing that process mining leads to better automation outcomes.

However, even the smoothest implementations will require improvements. That’s where automated testing steps in, enabling businesses to examine automations at any stage. This method significantly accelerates finding errors and boosts process performance compared to manual testing, regardless of the scale of the project.

Both functionalities will only become more vital to automation initiatives’ success as deployments become more prevalent and complex.

Bottom line

Whether it’s growing accessibility or the rising importance of AI, all these automation trends have one thing in common: they show why automation is the future and why so many businesses want to join in.

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No matter what industry you’re in, you can share this future by implementing automation in your organization. So give us a call or drop a message to talk to our consultants about RPA and how it can advance your business. Get a free proof of concept and peek into tomorrow, today.

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Krzysztof Szwed

Tech Lead and Solution Architect at Flobotics. Previously in KPMG.