Author: AnilVijayan

Digital Transformations: 5 Emerging Trends in the Intelligent Process Automation Market

The pandemic’s effects on the digital landscape are long-lasting. Businesses are evolving to rely on the intelligent process automation market (IPA) to promote growth and keep up with competitors. Read on to learn more about five growing IPA trends.

In a world becoming increasingly reliant on technology, financial services organizations are digitizing and automating more processes to keep up with the competition. The intelligent process automation market, growing by about 20% across all fields, is now becoming ubiquitous.

IPA is defined as automation in business processes that use a combination of next-generation automation technologies — such as robotic process automation (RPA) and cognitive or artificial intelligence (AI)-based automation, including intelligent document processing and conversational AI. Solution providers are offering solutions across RPA, Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), and workflow/orchestration, as well as crafting innovative solutions such as digital Centers of Excellence (CoE) and investing more in as-a-Service offerings.

In our recent Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) – Solution Provider Landscape with PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2022 report, our analysts ranked IPA technology vendors and looked at the market for IPA solutions. Based on the research, the growth of IPA technology and reliance will expand to around 25% over the next three years.

Five intelligent process automation market trends enterprises should know

The question of how to become faster, more efficient, and more resilient is the focus for just about any organization undergoing digital transformation. Very often, the answer to this question is at least, in part, intelligent process automation. In the near future, we can see five emerging IPA trends:

  1. IPA will get smarter

A greater proportion of cognitive elements is finding its way into the intelligent process automation market. About 60% of new automation projects involve more advanced cognitive tools such as IDP, conversational AI and anomaly detection. As the maturity of AI-based solutions increases, cognitive automation will be in greater demand. All-round adoption of IPA will be fueled by providers entering new geographies and organizations starting IA initiatives.

  1. IPA will be more scalable

Although many organizations are trying to adopt intelligent process automation, the real question is if it can be scaled up or, in other words, if it can be brought across the organization. To help enterprises scale automation, solution providers are investing in expanding their partner ecosystem, strengthening technology capabilities, and enhancing their services portfolio.

Providers are also expected to help enterprises scale up through more effective change management and CoE set-up strategies. Aided by the prevalence of process intelligence solutions to form robust pipelines and orchestration tools to facilitate holistic automation, enterprises are better equipped now to move away from siloed applications of IA to scaled-up automation implementations.

  1. Citizen development will grow

Many organizations are experimenting with what they can do with citizen development, especially with the current talent shortage. Citizen-led development also holds the power to disrupt the current state of building automation and addresses the issue of talent availability. Solution providers are expected to invest in citizen development and low-code/no-code technologies enabling business users to build automation, consequently also addressing the talent shortage in the market.

Solution and technology providers are also expected to invest substantially in developing the low-code/no-code capabilities of their platforms to enable business users with limited technical exposure to build automation solutions on their own. A few solution providers are implementing citizen development programs in their own organizations and are planning to leverage the learnings to develop effective governance programs for enterprises.

  1. IPA service providers will bring IPA solutions packages to the market

Packaged solutions are gaining traction in the IPA market due to their ease of implementation and quick Return on Investment (RoI). Solutions for F&A are the most prevalent in the market. These solutions will need training on particular data sets to make them functional for a particular process, but they will speed up implementation. Providers are expected to take conscious steps toward promoting sustainable AI by developing solutions complying with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) parameters. They are also investing in AI solutions that are transparent about their working and usage of data.

  1. IPA service providers will pre-build connectors to legacy and other systems

There are a host of technologies, including RPA, conversational AI, process mining, and process orchestration in the IA ecosystem. Very often these IA solutions need to talk to the various other systems. Many IPA service providers are driving innovation and crafting new solutions to keep pace with the fast-moving IPA market and create a more holistic integration process. One such method is offering enabling capabilities like pre-built connectors for a faster and less complex implementation.

If you would like to learn more or discuss the intelligent process automation market and IPA trends, reach out to [email protected].

Learn how the healthcare industry is utilizing intelligent automation, digitalization, and telehealth as fundamental driving forces to transform and evolve in the webinar, How Intelligent Document Processing Is Transforming the Healthcare Industry.

Deconstructing the Future of Work Trends

Four-day weeks, on-demand pay, “rural” talent, and digital workers in recent times, we’ve heard these ideas accompanied by seemingly teleological questions about work as a construct. With the work landscape rapidly evolving, questions arise about what the future of work will look like. Read on to learn more about how technology, location, and talent can be utilized to reconstruct our understanding of work, as well as gain positive lasting effects for companies.

With the rise of digital labor pyramid issues, the after-effects of a global pandemic, and the desire for more meaning in work and convenience through remote work, the work landscape is being met with a promising possibility of re-examining and perhaps reconstructing work for the new era. But, beyond the clarion call, what exactly does it entail? How do we understand the future of work trends and how do we design for them? Fundamentally, we can break it down into three distinct components: the how, the where, and the who. Let’s take a look at the trends shaping the future of work.

Nature of work – how will work be done?

As we look at the adoption of cloud and AI technologies in the workplace, it becomes clear that the nature of work will change considerably. Robotic process automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based automation can significantly reduce the number of transactional tasks delivered manually, in addition to a few judgement-oriented tasks. The universe of tasks that can be automated or simplified will expand as these technologies mature and systems of record become more scalable, data pipelines are streamlined, and meaningful data itself becomes more accessible. This further enhances our ability to use data to derive insights and make informed decisions.

Everest Group’s future of work research shows adoption of these technologies has accelerated during the pandemic. More than 70% of organizations have invested in digital in the past 12 months, and about 50% expect to invest more in the next six to 12 months. Naturally, all of this has implications for the kind of work that then falls to the human workforce. With transactional tasks largely automated, judgement-, expertise-, and empathy-oriented tasks and related skill sets (including “soft skills”) become more important. But this is not a doom and gloom job-loss scenario; digital hardly ever is. Digital will also create jobs for talent who can acquire skills related to automation, AI, analytics, and the cloud.

In essence, the nature of work is changing. Enterprises will need to prepare for these eventualities by ensuring they have adequate skilling programs in place, starting by building skill taxonomies for the future, assessing current skill sets, and building out continuous learning, upskilling, and reskilling programs to enable a future-ready workforce.

Work location – where will work be done?

Our research indicates that over half of today’s enterprises expect more than 40% of their employees to continue to work from home over the next two years or so. The pandemic has dispelled certain notions about remote work while highlighting its challenges. No longer do we question if remote work is efficient or even a possibility; video calling and conferencing tools, collaboration technologies, and the potential of the metaverse have meaningfully reduced the friction that deterred work from home. Employees have benefitted from shorter commute times, greater flexibility, and proximity to family.

On the other hand, 55% of enterprises see employee engagement as a key challenge in a remote-only environment, and 50% see organizational culture as difficult to maintain with full-time work from home. The middle ground (hybrid work) seems destined to be lasting among the future of work trends. Enterprises need to redesign physical and virtual workspaces, embedding information security as needed and changing management styles to accommodate the hybrid working model.

As remote working has gained more acceptance and mature economies have aged, the time has also come to de-link talent from geographic locations. Beyond the US and India, emerging technologies such as AI and automation have sizeable talent pools in multiple countries across the world. The enterprise of the future should seek to leverage this talent, applying similar guiding principles as those for hybrid work with an additional focus on local compliance, managing cross-cultural teams, and customizing policies.

Talent model – who will do the work?

As work and workplaces evolve, so will the talent we need. We already spoke to the need for a geographically distributed and suitably skilled talent. The future workforce will also be diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Diversity will, in some ways, be necessitated by the need for a variety of in-demand skills sets and changing labor pyramids, but beyond that, it is a fairly well-established fact that diverse workforces simply do better and bring a variety of perspectives to the table, enabling enterprises to serve their clients better too. From this perspective, in the digital age, organizations will need to bolster their diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, define concrete goals and metrics, and mobilize internal and external resources to help meet these goals. DE&I will be among the trends shaping the future of work to watch for.

As we look to fulfill specific skillsets for future work, organizations will also do well to consider contingent or temporary workers in addition to traditional permanent ones. Contingent workers are in greater supply now and will offer a good pool of talent to tap into, particularly for in-demand and next-generation skills. This will require careful consideration on the part of enterprises, as not all roles will be suitable for fulfillment. Even among the contingent workers, some skillsets will be in higher demand.

Attracting talent also will pose a challenge for enterprises. Today, a large portion of contingent programs are run through procurement. A holistic program run by HR (including contingent and permanent workers) that can communicate the employer value proposition well, help with engagement, and leverage data to improve program management might just be needed as we transition to this new construct.

The future of work is neither esoteric nor mundane – it is somewhere in between, and it is here already. It will require us to question well-established paradigms, rethink the framing of work in our lives, and push us to redesign and reconstruct. Enterprises that move the needle now stand to gain a lasting competitive advantage.

To learn more about the future of work trends, contact us or reach out to Everest Group Partner, [email protected].

At Everest Group, we help clients navigate their digital transformation journeys and provide assistance in implementing digital technologies. Currently, we are offering assistance to companies that are launching Web 3.0 and Metaverse initiatives with a complimentary outline of definitions and use cases. Request a summary.

Is AI Emotion Detection Ready for Prime Time?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions that aim to recognize human emotions can provide useful insights for hiring, marketing, and other purposes. But their use also raises serious questions about accuracy, bias, and privacy. To learn about three common barriers that need to be overcome for AI emotion detection to become more mainstream, read on.

By using machine learning to mimic human intelligence, AI can execute everything from minimal and repetitive tasks to those requiring more “human” cognition. Now, AI solutions are popping up that go as far as to interpret human emotion. In solutions where AI and human emotion intersect, does the technology help, or deliver more trouble than value?

While we are starting to see emotion detection using AI in various technologies, several barriers to adoption exist, and serious questions arise as to whether the technology is ready to be widely used. AI that aims to interpret or replace human interactions can be flawed because of underlying assumptions made when the machine was trained. Another concern is the broader question of why anyone would want to have this technology used on them. Is the relationship equal between the organization using the technology and the individual on whom the technology is being used? Concerns like these need to be addressed for this type of AI to take off.

Let’s explore three common barriers to emotion detection using AI:

Barrier #1: Is AI emotion detection ethical for all involved?

Newly launched AI-based solutions that track human sentiment for sales, human resources, instruction, and telehealth can help provide useful insights by understanding people’s reactions during virtual conversations.

While talking through the screens, the AI tracks the sentiment of the person, or people, who are taking the information in, including their reactions and feedback. The person being tracked could be a prospective customer, employee, student, patient, etc., where it’s beneficial for the person leading the virtual interaction to better understand how the individual receiving the information is feeling and what they could be thinking.

This kind of AI could be viewed as ethical in human resources, telehealth, or educational use cases because it could benefit both the person delivering the information and those receiving the information to track reactions, such as fear, concern, or boredom. In this situation, the software could help deliver a better outcome for the person being assessed. However, few other use cases are available where it is advantageous for everyone involved to have one person get a “competitive advantage” over another in a virtual conversation by using AI technology.

Barrier #2:  Can discomfort and feelings of intrusion with AI emotion detection be overcome?  

This brings us to the next barrier – why should anyone agree to have this software turned on during a virtual conversation? If someone knows of an offset in control during a virtual conversation, the AI software comes across as incredibly intrusive. If people need to agree to be judged by the AI software in some form or another, many could decline just because of its invasive nature.

People are becoming more comfortable with technology and what it can do for us; however, people still want to feel like they have control of their decisions and emotions.

Barrier #3: How do we know if the results of emotion detection using AI are accurate?

We put a lot of trust in the accuracy of technology today, and generally, we don’t always consider how technology develops its abilities. The results for emotion-detecting AI depend heavily on the quality of the inputs that are training the AI. For example, the technology must consider not only how human emotion varies from person to person but the vast differences in body language and non-verbal communication from one culture to another. Users also will want to consider the value and impact of the recommendations that come out of the analysis and if it drives the desired behaviors that were intended.

Getting accurate data from using this kind of AI software could help businesses better meet the needs of customers and employees, and health and education institutions deliver better services. AI can pick up on small nuances that may otherwise be missed entirely and be useful in job hiring and other decision making.

But inaccurate data could alter what would otherwise have been a genuine conversation. Until accuracy improves, users should focus on whether the analytics determine the messages correctly and if overall patterns exist that can be used for future interactions. While potentially promising, AI emotion detection may still have some learning to do before it’s ready for prime time.

Contact us for questions or to discuss this topic further.

Learn more about recent advances in technology in our webinar, Building Successful Digital Product Engineering Businesses. Everest Group experts will discuss the massive digital wave in the engineering world as smart, connected, autonomous, and intelligent physical and hardware products take center stage.

Is It Open Season for RPA Acquisitions? | Blog

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a key component of the automation ecosystem and has been a rapidly growing software product category, making it an interesting space for potential acquisitions for a while now. While acquisitions in the RPA market have been happening over the last several years, three major RPA acquisitions have taken place in quick succession over the past few months: Microsoft’s acquisition of Softomotive in May, IBM’s acquisition of WDG Automation in July, and Hyland’s acquisition of Another Monday in August.

These acquisitions highlight a broader trend in which smaller RPA vendors are being acquired by different categories of larger technology market players:

  • Big enterprise tech product vendors like Microsoft and SAP
  • Service providers such as IBM
  • Larger automation vendors like Appian, Blue Prism, and Hyland.

Recent RPA acquisitions timeline:

RPA Robotic Process Automation

Why is this happening?

The RPA product market has grown rapidly over the past few years, rising to about US$ 1.2 billion in software license revenues in 2019. The market seems to be consolidating, with some of the larger players continuing to gain market share. As in any such maturing market, mergers and acquisitions are a natural outcome. However, we see multiple factors in the current environment leading to this frenetic uptick in RPA acquisitions:

Acquirers’ perspective – In addition to RPA being a fast-growing market, new category acquirers – meaning big tech product vendors, service providers, and larger automation vendors – see potential in merging RPA capabilities with their own core products to provide more unified automation solutions. These new entrants will be able to build pre-packaged solutions combining RPA with other existing capabilities at lower cost. COVID-19 has created an urgency for broader automation in enterprises, and the ability to offer packaged solutions that provide a quick ROI can be a game-changer in this scenario. Additionally, the adverse impact of the pandemic on the RPA vendors’ revenues, which may have dropped their valuations down to more realistic levels, is making them more attractive for the acquiring parties.

Sellers’ perspective – There is now a general realization in the market that RPA alone is not going to cut it. RPA is the connective tissue, but you still need the larger services, big tech/Systems-of-Record and/or intelligent automation ecosystem to complete the picture. RPA vendors that don’t have the ability to invest in building this ecosystem will be looking to be acquired by larger players that offer some of these complementary capabilities. In addition, investor money may no longer be flowing as freely in the current environment, meaning that some RPA vendors will be looking for an exit.

What can we expect going forward?

The RPA and broader intelligent automation space will continue to evolve quickly, accelerated by the predictable rise in demand for automation and the changes brought on by the new entrants in the space. We expect to see the following trends in the short term:

  • More acquisitions – With the ongoing market consolidation, we expect more acquisitions of smaller automation players – including RPA, Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), process orchestration, Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA), and process mining players – by the above-mentioned bigger categories as they seek to build more complete transformational solutions.
  • Services imperative – Scaling up automation initiatives is an ongoing challenge for enterprises, with questions lingering around bot license utilization and the ability to fill an automation pipeline. Services that can help overcome these challenges will become more critical and possibly even differentiating in the RPA space, whether the product vendors themselves or their partners provide them.
  • Evolution of the competitive landscape – We expect the market landscape to undergo considerable transformation:
    • In the attended RPA space, while there will be co-opetition among RPA vendors and the bigger tech players, the balance may end up being slightly tilted in favor of the big tech players. Consider, for instance, the potential impact if Microsoft were to provide attended RPA capabilities embedded with its Office products suite. Pure-play RPA vendors, however, will continue to encourage citizen development, as this can unearth low-hanging fruit that can serve as an entry point into the wider enterprise organization.
    • In the unattended RPA space, pure-play RPA vendors will likely have an advantage as they do not compete directly with big tech players and so can invest in solutions across different systems of record. Pure-play RPA vendors might focus their efforts here and form an ecosystem to link in missing components of intelligent automation to provide integrated offerings.

There are several open questions on how some of these dynamics will play out over time. You can expect a battle for the soul (and control) of automation, with implications for all stakeholders in the automation ecosystem. Questions remain:

  • How will enterprises approach automation evolution, by building internal expertise or utilizing external services?
  • How will the different approaches automation vendors are currently following play out – system of record-led versus platform versus best of breed versus packaged solutions?
  • Where will the balance between citizen-led versus centralized automation lie?

Only time will tell how this all plays out.

But in the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them with us at [email protected], [email protected], and  [email protected].

On-demand Payroll: A Holy Grail for Employees and Employers?

When you think of payroll, the last thing that probably comes to mind is “flexibility.” For longer than anyone reading this blog can remember, payday has come on the same day(s) of the month for most employees. This puts a significant portion of the global workforce in a bind; they live paycheck to paycheck, and find it difficult to make ends meet, pay down debt, and save money.

However, in today’s world of increasingly instant gratification, those days could be ending.

Enter “On-demand Payroll,” an emerging area within payroll that gives employees the freedom to decide how and when they want to get paid, and provides them some level of safety should an unexpected expense pop up that wasn’t on their radar.

Benefits for Workers

Benefits of On-demand Payroll

Increase in flexibility: One of the key benefits is that it enables employees to choose their pay schedules and stay on top of their finances or react to sudden expenses.

“Payrolling” the gig-economy: With the world moving towards the gig-economy, an on-demand payroll system has the potential to overcome the limitations of the current payroll process for contingent workers and freelancers.

Financial wellness: This will help workers better plan and budget their expenses, preventing them from running into cash flow problems. Additionally, it will help them stay away from predatory lenders and payday loan products that can lead to added fees and greater financial burdens.

Expedited payroll for unexpected situations: In cases of missed payroll deadlines or an employee’s unexpected departure, an on-demand payroll framework can eliminate any delay and proceed with the payment instantly.

All this results in better employee engagement and satisfaction, leading to an overall increase in the employee experience.

Employers will also benefit. Given the strong link between financial stress and employee health, on-demand payroll will result in reduced absenteeism and increased employee productivity and retention.

On-demand Payroll Solution Ecosystem

Payroll service providers and FinTech companies are developing capabilities to support enterprises’ desire to move to on-demand payroll. For example, there’s been a rise in financial wellness platforms that help employees budget, plan, and track their expenditures and savings. And digital wallets and pay cards can serve as alternatives to banks by acting as vehicles for direct deposit and allowing payments for purchases, and can facilitate faster payroll payouts.

Two Most Common On-demand Payroll Scenarios

Earned wage payments –The employee uses the on-demand payroll platform to request payment for hours/shifts worked, choosing to receive the payment in a wallet, on a pay card, or into a selected bank account. The deduction is calculated into the employee’s regular cycle payroll payment, whether it was for the full or partial amount.  For this to work effectively and seamlessly, the enterprise needs to have an integrated system that can access all the relevant information needed for payroll processing, such as work hours data, tax related information, and employee data.

Advance payments – The employee asks for a salary advance (the maximum amount may be limited by company policies.) Although this scenario does not require a sophisticated and integrated system, enterprises must carefully track these transactions to make sure they’re properly accounted for, and to avoid running into cash flow issues.

Questions to Consider

Just like all other innovative approaches, on-demand payroll also comes with its fair share of challenges. So, here are several questions you should ponder before making the move.

Will there be an impact on my enterprise’s cash flows?

While employers may embrace a heightened role in their employees’ financial wellness, changes in pay schedules can mean disruption to cash flow management and forecasting, as well as added administrative burdens.

Will this impact tax calculations and payments to the government?

Due to the personalized nature of payments, employees may be withdrawing cash during non-standard financial cycles. Enterprises need to take into consideration whether it will impact the various mandatory reporting mechanisms, government payments, and filings.

What commercial model should be employed when a platform is used?

The most appropriate commercial model will be jointly determined by the on-demand payroll platform provider and the enterprise. Points to factor into the decision include whether or not the employees will be charged for using the platform, and whether a bank must be involved in advance salary requests.

How will the system be implemented?

Enterprises will need to integrate the various components required for a seamless transition to the new system, including time and attendance, the payroll platform, etc. They must pay particular attention to how the relevant data will be accessed, processed, and reported.

On-demand payroll forms a crucial part of the broader concept of “Employee Experience Suites.” Our upcoming three-part research series will cover these, practical ways to improve the employee experience, and some of the startup trailblazers disrupting this area.

Is your enterprise planning to reimagine the payroll process? Have you successfully implemented on-demand payroll? We’d love to hear from you about your experiences, questions, and concerns. Please connect with us directly at:

[email protected]  and [email protected].

Ascender’s Acquisition of NGA’s ANZ Business: Consolidation in a Maturing Market | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

On 31 January 2017, Australia-based Ascender and NGA Human Resources announced that Ascender had acquired NGA’s Australia and New Zealand business. Part of the agreement is a partnership between the two companies to deliver payroll and HR services solutions for the ANZ region, ensuring a seamless solution for NGA HR’s global payroll and HR clients. The deal makes Ascender one of the largest HR and Payroll providers in the ANZ and APAC region.

What are the implications of the deal?

For NGA:

  • Global deals with ANZ components will continue unaffected, as Ascender will serve as a partner provider in the region with no disruption to existing operations
  • NGA will aim to use a partnership-based approach for multi-country deals originating in the ANZ region. It will no longer be active in the single country payroll market in ANZ.

For Ascender:

  • Its single country capability and reach in the ANZ region will get a boost with the addition of NGA’s services delivery and technology capabilities, specifically the Preceda and PS Enterprise HCM platforms
  • It will have access to a new set of clients in ANZ, with an opportunity to sell into other regions of APAC through the newly acquired client portfolio. This could potentially increase its multi country payroll outsourcing (MCPO) market penetration in the APAC region.

Of course, as with any deal of this type, there are numerous things those in the region should watch out for.

First, NGA and Ascender will be looking to forge a partnership in a way that is beneficial to both parties beyond the immediate operational need. The scope and extent of this new partnership will evolve and take shape as the dust settles. It remains to be seen what form it will take, especially in light of Ascender’s recent entry into the Europe-based Payroll Services Alliance, wherein eight major payroll service companies have bundled their services into a unified offering that consists of strong local expertise and services, supplemented by coordination and integration at an international level.

As far as technology is concerned, with NGA’s PS Enterprise and Preceda HCM platforms coming into Ascender’s fold as part of the acquisition, Ascender will likely seek to integrate the different system capabilities under one brand over time. As with a lot of private equity-backed acquisitions, since the focus will be on improving margins, we are likely to see more investment in consolidating and improving technology, driving automation, and increasing self-service functionality.

Although the APAC market continues to experience relatively high growth rates – 7-9% in single country payroll outsourcing and 23-25% in MCPO – the region is fairly complex, and each country requires a distinct strategy to ensure sustainable growth. For instance, while India requires a heavily price-sensitive services sales approach, a technology-driven approach works better in Australia.

With the APAC region requiring a great deal of management attention and local presence to drive continued success, global providers’ APAC arms tend to be private equity acquisition targets. Indeed, while Western economy-based global players don’t necessarily have the focus to negotiate the uniqueness of the APAC region’s HR services and payroll requirements, private equity can certainly help bring that focus to the table. For example, Ascender is backed by a private equity-led consortium, and just two years ago, private equity firm Everstone Capital bought out Aon Hewitt’s APAC business, (renamed Excelity Global).

While not all will be private equity-driven, we do anticipate more acquisitions and consolidation in this space in the APAC region as the market matures, particularly in geographic markets that are fragmented, with no clear leader in sight.

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