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Somewhere between hope and hesitation – the corporate view of intelligent automation

Many companies already successfully utilise automation on a case-by-case basis, but are not able to use the technology to its full potential. The answer to this problem? Intelligent automation. By combining a number of different technologies, companies can become more efficient and productive. As part of a representative study, the IT service provider adesso surveyed a range of businesses to find out where they are on their journey towards intelligent automation.

How far can process automation go? Quite far, if robotic process automation (RPA) applications are anything to go by. Software robots already complete many manual processes or repetitive activities on behalf of human users. Intelligent automation – which is RPA enhanced with artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing – brings the possibilities to a whole new level. It opens the door to automating processes that were not suitable for automation in the past. Case in point: customer complaints. In customer service, it’s important to determine whether a message is a potential complaint or not, pass it on the right people on and subsequently monitor how it is processed. So far, this process has been strictly manual, and therefore time-consuming with wide variations in quality.

adesso asked 500 corporate decision-makers about their attitudes, expectations and plans with regard to intelligent automation by posing the following questions: In which areas are you already using this technology? What reasons are there in favour of using intelligent automation? Where do the biggest obstacles lie?

These are the most important findings from the study:

  • The technology is gaining ground. Intelligent automation applications already play an important role in many different company departments. Around 30 % of surveyed companies already work with the technology, across all manner of business areas. As expected, the main users of intelligent automation are IT departments (44 %), followed by production/manufacturing (38 %) and service (36 %). In management, on the other hand, intelligent automation was only in place at 24 % of respondents. It was a similar story in marketing (25 %) and human resources (26 %).
  • Targeting greater efficiency and lower costs. Top of the list of reasons for utilising intelligent automation are some of the usual suspects when it comes to justifying automation projects: making processes more efficient (58 %) and cutting costs (46 %). Despite the numerous current crises, resilience is only of secondary importance (9 %).
  • Relieving the burden on staff not overly important. Intelligent process automation can give employees the opportunity to perform to their full potential. All too often, people are burdened with repetitive and bureaucratic tasks. Surprisingly, however, the study found that only one in every five respondents (18 %) cited employee satisfaction due to the elimination of such activities as a reason for implementing an intelligent automation solution.
  • Shortage of expertise derailing projects. The lack of specialist expertise is the largest obstacle to implementing intelligent automation on a wider scale, with 44 % of respondents listing this as a reason. In second and third position respectively were technological aspects (34 %) and implementation costs (33 %). A lack of use cases, on the other hand, was only cited as an obstacle by 20 % of respondents.

“From finance to logistics, sales to marketing and HR to legal affairs: there is no part of a business that cannot benefit from intelligent automation,” says Benedikt Bonnmann, Head of the Data & Analytics Line of Business at adesso SE. “It is the key to ensuring that your business can continue to thrive in the future. When set up and implemented correctly, intelligent automation components work away in the background seamlessly. And they help free up employees from the burden of repetitive tasks so that they can focus on more effective activities. Companies should take greater consideration of this aspect when weighing up intelligent automation. Now is the time to turn the theoretical knowledge into practical solutions for an operating environment. Our study shows that the potential of intelligent automation is not even close to being utilised fully.”

Benedikt Bonnmann, Head of Data & Analytics at adesso. (Copyright: adesso)

adesso and the Cologne-based market research agency heute & morgen conducted a survey on the subject of intelligent automation in May 2022. The group of participants comprised 500 decision-makers in Germany who work for companies with AI applications.

The study is available for download at

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