B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 2 months ago

A Guide to Intelligent Automation


Intelligent automation is known in various circles as hyper automation or native automation. 

Regardless of which name you use, the fundamental idea behind it is to identify automation initiatives that can digitize some of the excessive workloads many companies are facing.

Shelby Skrhak speaks with Michael Lim , Integration Executive, IBM RPA and Process Mining at IBM, about:

- 3 ways in which artificial intelligence is applied

- Why process mining is so vital

- The use cases for intelligent automation

- What makes IBM RPA unique

For more information, contact Jilina Damin (Jilina.Damin@ingrammicro.com) or visit Robotic Process Automation.

To join the discussion, follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify , Apple Podcasts , or Stitcher . Or, tune in on our website .

...you're listening to B B tech talk withingram micro the place to learn about new technology and technologicaladvances before they become mainstream. This podcast is sponsored by IBM. IBMis a leading hybrid, multi cloud solutions company accelerating thecreation development and manufacturing of the industry's most advancedinformation technology for companies around the world. Let's get into it.Welcome to B to B tech talk with ingram micro. I'm your host, Shelby scare hawk.My guest today is Michael lim integration executive for IBM R. P. A.And process mining for IBM. Michael face so thrilled to have you here today.I am excited to be here too. So always love to get a chance to speak to ourpartner community. So really, really excited. Thank you for having Well,excellent. I'm glad to have you on because you know we're going to talkabout intelligent automation today. So we know that companies don't buytechnology for the sake of buying technology anymore. I mean it has tosolve a specific problem or hopefully problems plural. But first, Michaelwhen we're talking about intelligent automation, why is it called that? AndI guess is there a synonym that others in the industry might know it by? Yeah,so it's interesting if you talk to a different analyst, they have adifferent term. So if you talk to Gardner, they call it hyper automation.If you talk to Forrester they call it intelligent automation if you talk tohorses for sources which is a huge analyst firm in the automation space.They call it native automation but it's really not a technology. It's adiscipline and the idea is to figure out how to go and drive automationinitiatives throughout organizations and companies so that they can startdigitize some of the over growing workload that's happening. So I'venoticed even through the pandemic, we're all paid on a, On a 40 hour workweek, which is like an eight hour day. But I'm working 14, 16 hours a day. Andwhat's happening is when we are not in the office, we don't have a lot of thesay the cooler talks that you can go and talk about coolers and problems andsolve them there or over lunch, you're doing it through a bunch of meetingsand nine times out of 10, a lot of those meetings is just repetitiveinformation that you're sharing Over and over. Or it's collecting. I end updoing more power point presentations than anything else, so I cancommunicate to my leadership what we're doing and how we're doing as a business.And that takes time. And I find that 40% of my time is actually done inrepetitive work that can be automated. And really the concept of intelligentautomation or hyper automation is applying a discipline to look for thosedifferent work patterns that you can digitize through automationtechnologies and apply them right. And that's really the endgame of what we'retrying to accomplish with intelligent...

...hyper native automation. Okay, so, youknow, we know then that's, you know, the workforce is shrinking, there's aserious need for skilled workers in a variety of industries and areas. So Iwanted to understand a little bit more about this automation. So, you know, sofirst off, I think that's something that I don't think a lot of peoplerealize that when they hear intelligent automation and they're thinking, wellengineering, robotics, that sort of thing. I mean, and that's, you know, abase base level, but you don't think of using that type of automation forinformation and being able to convey, communicate and share knowledge, right?Yeah, no, I totally agree. I mean this is really what it's about intelligenceis the intelligence that we have within ourselves and the work that we actuallydo and how do you share it and communicated across in an effectivemanner and be able to go and you not only just share it and apply it andthen actually make it available to go meet business goals and objectives andthat's huge. And that's where people are spending more time focusing onrepetitive, I would say information gathering type of work instead of thestrategic work and you're right, the skills is is hard not nowadays withpeople getting back into the workforce and finding the right skills andworkforce, it's now we don't need people that are just doers, we needpeople that are strategic thinkers to take our businesses to the next level,That's a key point there. So a strategic thinking that something whenyou look into what this automation entails, uh it includes artificialintelligence and machine learning as I understand it as it's kind of decisionengine. Am I understanding that? Right. And then what does then this artificialintelligence aim to do with data and automation? Sure. And there's a coupledifferent ways that artificial intelligence is applied. First you haveto identify the work. What is the work? What are they asking me to do? Whatinformation you're trying to gather? What do you what do you say? It couldbe inside of a form or document or it could be in a chat message that you'rehaving. But think of it like a customer support person when someone calls inand says I need help with something. I need intelligence to actuallyunderstand. What am I trying to solve? What is the problem I'm trying to solve.So that's one area that intelligence supply. We have technologies like OcRright. OcR is being able to extract content and information from documentsor emails or structured on structured documents and be able to understand thecontext of what we're trying to do. So that's one form, the second form ofautomation that we see and where we are applying with our technologies is howdo I go in and learn what people do and digitize it. And this is where you'retalking about machine learning in robots and those different things.Those are just the means to the ends to actually do the work. But you have toextract how it's actually being done. And once I extract it, then I candigitize it by using our P. A. Bots.

And bots is a good example wherethey're using that to digitize some of the human work activities that peopleactually do. So that's the second form of automation. Now, automation doesn'tnecessarily just mean bots. It could be a process interesting enough. When yougo and talk to executives, they say, hey, you know, we're in financialservices and we do loan origination and every single bank would say the loanregistration process is so different. The steps are similar, but there aretechniques of how they applied are very different. And so how do I use A I tounderstand those techniques and then apply that in a way where technologycan actually derive from those techniques. So that's the second way.So first we talked about identify, then we talk about really applying it areactually gathering information. And then another form of AI is starting toexplore what other areas could we start digitizing in work. Right? So 19 tenswhen people actually go in and say I'm doing an automation project, they'reonly automating things that they see and they know, but they don't know iswhat's down in the downstream in the business process. They have no ideathat this unit work that you're doing actually impacts the outcome of thedown streams of work that happened in a business process. And that's reallywhere you can apply artificial intelligence machine learningalgorithms to actually understand when you do something or when you don'tcomplete a unit of work, what is the impact? And how do I prevent that tohappen? How do I prevent hiccups or bottlenecks that could potentiallyhappen in the downstream of the process, which in turn basically impacts theoutcome of the overall business. Right. And so A I is used in those threedifferent fashions. One identify second, then you apply it by by learningexactly patterns of work and then using technology to apply it. And then youlook at it more in predictive sense where I can be able to predict whatpeople are doing and then be able to anticipate what it had patterns andthings like that and that's where a I can actually help you discover that.Okay, so uh it's interesting to look at the process of evaluating thoseworkflows and the process of process mining. That's a term that maybe peoplethat aren't specifically in this industry would wouldn't be familiarwith, but basic nuts and bolts. What is process mining and I guess why isthat's just so vital to everything that we're doing here. I would say I'm avisual learner, I can see things in a picture and I can understand things ina picture like you can give me a book and I can, I would have to read thesentence like four or five times to actually understand what it is. But ifyou show me a picture that digitally depicts what I'm trying to do, it'svery very helpful and what process mind does, it just takes events of how workis actually happening in the workplace. It's really a tool to help you visuallyunderstand how your business is running...

...and then identify, hey this is what wethought that the business was doing. But in actuality it's not it's doingthis and you're going to look at the derivations, you're going to say wellwhy are those derivations? What was the root cause of those derivations? Is ita training issue? Is it something that we should be digitized? Maybe there'stoo much time being spent in one activity that should only take 20minutes. But it's taking two hours. You can start analyzing why did it take twohours and we thought it was gonna take 20 minutes. So it helps you align yourKPI is correctly to the business outcomes that you're going to do. Sothat's what process mind does in the basic nuts and bolts. Now what we do anidea is taking a little step further because one we can identify all thederivations, we can identify the areas of improvement. Now what we're doing issaying. Well if I made that particular step, a robot step, I can actually hitthe KPI. Is that you define or if I use a business process or workflow engineto make sure that the flow of the process is consistent. That's canimprove my business outcome. Or if there is a decision that is consistent,how do I make sure that there's consistency in the way they respond toour customers and what our process mining engine does. It gives you theability to identify where you can apply automation and what automation typesshould you apply to get to the business outcome. Is this um the digital or thetechnology technological equivalent of the consultants in office based saying,okay what is exactly that you do? Exactly. Exactly. Right. I mean this iswhere technology, to be honest, what I think about it cause I was a businessconsultant and that's what I did. All I was doing was looking at how peoplework and then I was saying, hey these are some best practices, you know,business process, best practices and applying it. Now I have technology thatcan do it because I'm doing the same thing. I don't need to have a person toit. That's where a I can be applied to help you identify those inefficiencies.Yeah, well and that's fascinating. Especially now when we're talking aboutlike I mentioned with the pandemic and the, you know the labor shortages outthere, there's certainly an increased need for this intelligent automation.Can you talk to us about some of the specific use cases for this technology?Sure. I mean there's a lot of them. I mean you know we have a plethora ofdifferent customers in different industries but the most common I try tonormalize it across whatever industry. What do they deal with? First thing iscustomer onboarding or supplier onboarding any kind of onboarding usecase where you have people filling out a form or filling out an application,it goes through some process, internally goes through some type ofdecision and then it comes to a result of the decision and then neither theybecome a new customer or new supplier or they don't think about it as creditapprovals. I think of onboarding very common is a common use case that we seethe second use case that we're starting to really see is around customersupport and customer service. Right? When customers are asking for things orneed help with things 1910 the...

...responses that a support person does isthe same, right? It should be the same actually and the outcome should be thesame. And so how do I bring consistency in that work? And how do I deliver thatin a much more self service manner instead of having to go wait on theline in the queue for someone to pick up the phone and answer? And a lot ofpeople like self service because a lot faster than everything else. And thenthe other things that we're starting to really uncover an automation that'sbeen really important is in I. T. Automation and I'll give you a goodexample whenever a customer upgrades a system. You actually have the unit testeverything before you upgrade it before you put it into production today that'sactually done by humans. And not only that what happens if I'm a businessuser I have to do my day job and then I have to help test out systems on mynight job again causing that problem of working 14 16 hour days. Right? So if Ican digitize it with robots that can mimic what people do now I've reducedall that extra workload that's happening. So we see that in testing wesee it with my T. Run books when systems go down and how do I maintainthose systems and up times if we bought a company club and standard that doesprediction to look at operations with inside the business and findderivations within the business. How do I go and fix those derivations or giverecommendations to prove those derivations. So we see them both in abusiness perspective. And we also see it in I. T. And that's why we want toprovide a platform that does both. Not just solve business automation problemsbut also address the I. T. Automation problems. Well when we look at our P. A.I mean that that's a household term or something that's familiar but what isunique about IBM. S. R. P. A. Offering? Well, I mean the good news is I was theone who was selecting it. So I I did the evaluation before we acquired an RPvendor and I looked at all the different products that were out therein the market and what I was really looking were three core things. One Iwanted a solution that was fast. First we're moving into a market that Peoplewant to get access to automation as a service 910 and 10 the servicesdelivered in the cloud. Right. And so I wanted something that was built on asassafras architecture that was built on a kind of model that was morerelated to a utility. Right? Just like you get utility as your electricityutility you want to pay for what you use. And a lot of the technologies thatwere out there were still built for on prem that weren't structured in thatmodel. But I need something that was going to help me build what I call likeuh you know, butts per hour type of model where we can do that. So that wasimportant to me. The second thing that was important to me was exactly aroundpricing, I felt that pricing wasn't right. I couldn't get true ry withpricing because pricing was based on installs and if you're let's say ifyou're coming like IBM we have over 300,000 employees and I wanted to havean attended but which is like a boat assistant to help me do work, I wouldhave to buy 300,000 licenses for each...

...employee to do it. And it was a barrierfor customers to actually adopt R. P. A. To act as in a system. And so what wewanted to do was we want to charge per usage and that's very very different.It's very different than pricing Prince to were pricing per concurrent usageand they're getting to ry when they when they get it. So that that was alsovery very key. The third thing which was I think was really really goodabout the company that we acquired, they were building technology aroundchat interaction right? And I see that now, you know, nowadays I look at slack,I gotta slack bot and I can interact with chat, but chat is starting tobecome a new paradigm where people want to collaborate and get information andso inside of our RP tool, the chat activity is built in, you don't want tobuy anything else. It's part, it was like kind of core to the engine initself. So now you can have bots that you can run more of a unattended modewhere you're doing batch, bulk loads of work and you're having boats to thework, you have attended modes where they're like more your digital systemto help you do work and then you have chatbots, which is a way that you cancommunicate and collaborate with your customers and have the bots executethrough interactions. So if if we were to look at um what those main pointsare, what would be the the few takeaways that you definitely want ourlisteners to understand about intelligent automation and iBmSofferings? Well, I mean the key takeaway is that people are no longerbuying point solutions for automation. You know, automation is it's kind oflike it's it's not just it's not just a race, it's like it's like a marathon,you've got to think of things holistically and you're not going tosolve the problem by by tackling a point at a time. It's is it R. P. A. Oris it workflow or is it a decision problem or is it an ai problem? Youhave to have technology that actually works together holistically and givesyou these raw capabilities to build the automation that you actually need. So Ithink we're moving from a paradigm of stand alone purchasing of software toplatform purchasing of software where they have a robust set of capabilitiesthat you can actually go and drive and and use to build your automationmission. That's one key take away the second one is I think that there'sgoing to be a shift in paradigm how companies are going to have to move thechannel is so critically important to the success of every business. If Ilook at some of these, you know, I call them unicorn companies that becamesuccessful, they were building huge sales forces. What they were doing isthey were building big partner ecosystems that wraps out there becauseat the end of the automation is not a, you buy it and it just works. There's aconsultant engagement that actually needs to happen. It has to be acollaboration and partners that have skills and knowing the differentindustries are super valuable in it. It's no longer you buy a software thatworks, there's some consulting work that needs to happen. And this is whereI, I love these types of sessions...

...because I think the channel is the newway that vendors are gonna have to move towards selling software in the future.Right. And the last takeaway I would say is now people want to get value,they want to see value immediately. So no more of this. Let's go buy a bunchof perpetual licenses and some licenses. My show on the shelf, it's really as aservice and as a service can happen in two ways, it could happen in the cloudor it can happen as a service on prem. Right. And this is one of our bigreasons why we bought red hat because we believe Red hat provides you thatcommon infrastructure. You can build your technology or leveragingtechnology to contain in our eyes framework where you can scale it up anddown based on the usage, right? Buying software based on usage and getting toR. O. I. Is more important than it was. I mean we talk about it all the timebut this is the way that customers are buying. And so those three paradigmsare what really is driving, I would say intelligent information and are alsochallenge us as vendors to make sure that our partners have what they needto meet the demands of our customers. Well, fantastic stuff. So Michael, uhwe do always ask our guests the same question because they have their theirfinger on the polls. So where do you see technology going in the next year?That's a kind of a loaded question. Right place. I mean I think the senseof automation is going to stay and I think it's it's such a big missionbefore it was called application modernization, it was called yourdigitized journey, all these different things. But it's all rooted aroundautomation. And I think automation is gonna be it's gonna be huge where Ialso see technologies work going is that there's going to be a convergenceof smaller vendors into companies like you've been seeing a lot ofacquisitions and things that are happening is that customers don't wantpoints where they want platforms. You're starting to see a lot of thevendors out there acquiring technologies or growing technologiesorganically and I think that it's going to come to a point where customers aregoing to buy a service, a service of automation that has a library set ofvery core capabilities, both business and I. T. That they want to go anddrive to kind of meet the get to their business outcomes faster. So I see thatreally happening and I think that the dividing lines between business and I.T. Are going to become much closer. Right they're not solving problems thatare business oriented or I. T. Oriented. They're going to be workingcollectively either in a shared services model or in a collaborationmodel where they're looking at the business holistically. How do I notonly be able to go out and get new customers and grow my top line but howdo I manage my bottom line effectively so that we can actually grow and becomea profitable unfruitful company. And I think that those are going to be thebig drivers of where companies are going to be focusing their energies ontechnology purchases and technology investments. Michael, how can ourlisteners find out more about what we...

...talked about today? Well you know wegot we got this website called IBM dot com. You can definitely go there if youwant to know about our IBM mission, it's IBM dot com forward slashautomation and that gives you access to all the different automationtechnologies that we have or the capabilities that we deliver throughwhat we call our cloud packs and our cloud packs is just basic a hugeframework where you get access to both I. T. And business services. I do havea worldwide sales leader that's focusing specifically on our P. A. Andprocess mining and her name is Callie tally and what I can do, Shelby is Ican send you her email. People want to get in contact with her. She's gonna bereally focusing on channel ecosystem and really getting our partners engaged,giving them access to the software, get them all the enablement training thatthey need to have. That's really what her mission is and what I really wanther to drive. So she's she's a great resource and always, you know, oursellers are, there are sellers, there's no conflict between selling it as achannel deal or direct deal. Right? Our sellers are comp the same. We look atthings holistically and that's a partnership. So I I really encourageour channel ecosystem. Get to know who is your IBM wrapped in the accountsthat you're working in and build a collaboration and last but at least youcan always reach out to me. Right? So I'm always here available for ourpartners and I want to make sure that they have all the support that theyhave fantastic stuff. We'll have all that information in the show notes forour listeners and Michael, thank you so much for joining me. Well, thank youfor inviting me. It's been fantastic. And thank you listeners for tuning inand subscribing to be to be tech talk with ingram Micro. If you liked thisepisode or have a question, please join the discussion on twitter with theHashtag Btb tech talk. Until next time I'm Shelby scare hawk. You've beenlistening to B to B Tech Talk with ingram Micro, hosted by Kerry roberts.This episode was sponsored by IBM B Two B Tech Talk is a joint production withSweet Fish Media and Anger Micro. To not miss an episode. Subscribe today toyour favorite podcast platform mm.

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