Pascal Bornet is the author of “Intelligent Automation: Welcome to the World of Hyperautomation” and a 2019 LinkedIn Top Voice in Tech. Previously, he was the founder and leader of the AI and Automation service line at McKinsey Digital Labs, and the Artificial Intelligence and Automation Leader at EY. Pascal is a renowned speaker, author and thought leader who earned his MBA from UCLA and the National University of Singapore. He can be found on LinkedIn here and Twitter here.
Pascal’s area of expertise is intelligent automation, which he describes as the people, processes, methods and technologies that aim to automate end-to-end business processes, specifically for knowledge workers.
Intelligent automation targets repetitive transactions and activities that most knowledge workers do every day—like data entry and sending emails. This allows employees to refocus on value-add activities, like creativity, brainstorming and connecting with others. Pascal also believes that intelligent automation makes employees “super human” by producing insights they couldn’t have developed themselves—like information gathered from analyzing millions of data points instantaneously.
Intelligent automation is a recent phenomenon; the term was officially coined in 2017. Yet, it has already become widespread in business practices. Pascal cites a recent Deloitte survey that found that more than 50% of businesses globally have begun implementing intelligent automation in at least one division or process.
But despite the promise of intelligent automation, and businesses’ eagerness to implement it, only 15% have been able to use the technology in more than three functions or divisions, according to a survey by McKinsey. For companies today, the Holy Grail is determining how to scale the power of intelligent automation.
According to Pascal, COVID-19 has increased the role and importance of intelligent automation in business. Before the pandemic, implementing intelligent automation was a question of gaining a competitive edge. If one company didn’t implement it, they could bet on their competitor doing so instead—resulting in cheaper products, better customer experiences and greater market share.
During COVID-19, deploying intelligent automation shifted to a matter of survival. Businesses that don’t rethink their existing processes, or are unable to do so, will not survive the crisis.
In research for his upcoming book, Pascal and his co-authors uncovered key commonalities among leaders in intelligent automation. There are five shared success characteristics among companies that lead in digital transformation: putting people at the center of transformation, strong sponsorship from management, effective change management, leveraging technology to implement technology and democratization of technology.
He notes that, ironically, implementing intelligent automation is typically very human resource intensive. But leveraging technology, like process mining or automated machine learning, can accelerate the process. Additionally, democratizing technology through Low Code platforms or robotic process automation (RPA) allows anyone, with no technical background, to design intelligent applications, participate in the overall transformation and feel a sense of ownership over its success.
In his new book, Pascal was interested in determining the full promise of intelligent automation if it’s delivered at scale, globally. He believes that it can be implemented to solve some of the most pressing and difficult problems in the world, including challenges related to education, health, famine and the protection of our planet.
He sees particular promise in the medical industry by deploying intelligent automation to improve drug discovery, clinical trials, diagnosis and managing preventable diseases, particularly in developing nations. Ultimately, by his calculation, intelligent automation can help save a staggering ten million lives annually—20% of the 50 million lives we currently lose each year.