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Trends and insights making an impact in your digital transformation journey.

AI, RPA and machine learning – why it matters
Futhi Luthango
Practice Manager: Data and Analytics (Cape) at DVT

AI, RPA and machine learning – why it matters

Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, Cognitive Services, Interactive/chat Bots. These are terms you will come across in literature and conversations almost every day. What do they really mean and more concerning to the average person what will be the role of the human employee in this new digitally transformed world that we are rapidly moving towards?

The phenomenon called Big Data (a term coined in 2005 by Roger Mougalas) has allowed us to make more effective use of data, we can see things in a new and better way. It also accelerated the development and convergence of the technologies I have listed above.

In its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019, Gartner highlighted the impact AI will have over the coming years. The global research and advisory firm expects that by 2022, at least 40% of new application development projects will have AI co-developers on their teams. In 2019, robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) will join forces to create digital workers for more than 40% of enterprises, predicts Forrester Research. Also that 25% of leaders will use automation to address the shortage of talent, according to Forrester.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the technology that allows anyone today to configure computer software, or a “robot” to emulate and integrate the actions of a human interacting within digital systems to execute a business process.

What this means is that a so-called digital worker will be able to carry out the basic repetitious routine processes of information work, freeing people up to do more complex, more exceptional and difficult tasks. For people in the workplace distinguishing between data and information, as well as knowledge and meaning, will be a key skill.

According to Barry Devlin (a founder of the data warehousing industry), decision-makers will need to make information-informed evaluations, explore the meaning of the underlying facts and over and above that include other relevant considerations.

This changes the face of the workplace, job descriptions and opens up new opportunities, however it also creates uncertainty regarding job security. By 2021, Forrester estimates that there will be more than 4 million robots doing office and administrative work as well as sales and related tasks.

Enterprise RPA is the disruptive force in digital transformation.

This data-driven technology convergence has allowed us to create insights about ourselves and organisations that range from personalised algorithms in search engines to computational criminology. This intensive use of data has given rise to artificial intelligence.

AI will challenge the knowledge worker in the same way that factory automation challenged the factory worker. It is a technology we have to master just like past discoveries and inventions. Most importantly, we need to harness it in a way that holistically benefits us all. That will be the first task for the organisation.


For details on the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019 from Gartner:

Robotic Process Automation Gains Momentum, Information Week, 26 February 2019:

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