Federal agency interest in intelligent automation combined with policy and shared learning initiatives reflect a growing wave of activity that will eventually trigger an intelligent automation, or “IA,” tipping point―that critical threshold beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.
The use of software robots, or “bots,” to provide process automation is widespread in the private sector around the world. The bots support an extensive variety of customer-focused interactions and back-office processes. These range from simple telephonic information collection and information sharing services, such as obtaining account balances or airline flight schedules, to more complex tasks such as processing loan applications and invoices and validating the identity of users. The IA used is often robotic process automation, commonly referred to as “RPA,” augmented with artificial intelligence, or “AI,” capability such as machine learning.
Federal agencies are investigating the potential benefits of automating tasks with robots at an increasing rate. Nearly 25 agencies now have an RPA pilot project either in testing or production. For example, NASA is using the technology to manage email, populate fields in forms, and other rules-based tasks. USCIS is using chatbots to answer questions about immigration issues. And, GSA and HHS have enlisted the technology to support acquisition functions.
Federal policy is influencing acceptance of IA in federal agencies. OMB Memoranda M-18-23, Shifting From Low-Value to High-Value Work, presses agencies to use RPA to increase workforce efficiencies. Further, President Trump signed the American AI Initiative in February with five objectives:
- Increase funding for AI research and development
- Make federal data and computing available for AI purposes
- Set standards for trustworthy AI
- Train an AI workforce
- Protect the United States’ advantage in AI and AI technology
Finally, the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) published their Intelligent Automation Primer in January to help agencies understand how they can adopt various automation technologies to make their agencies more effective. An AI working group is also actively developing learning aids for the federal community.
These activities collectively suggest that widespread change in federal agency service delivery mechanisms is approaching. Will we reach the tipping point in 2019? Are you ready to advance your use of IA tools to support improvements in your agency? Don’t get left behind.
BRMi is your one-stop resource for getting started, advancing your use of IA tools, and creating an effective management structure for integrating IA tools across your agency. Contact us today for more information or a free consultation.