Greg Billington, Head of Engineering at ScriptRunner, explores the potential for AI to make automation more accessible to organisations.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, automation has become a critical tool for driving efficiency and productivity.

Historically, traditional automation solutions often required specialised skills, such as programming knowledge, and familiarity with complex software systems. These skills typically belonged to IT professionals and developers, limiting who within an organisation could contribute to its automation efforts. This created bottlenecks and backlogs. It forced teams to spend time explaining their problems to experts, rather than solve them directly. 

As technology continues to advance, this landscape is undergoing a significant shift. Automation tasks previously handled by experts are now being put into the hands of a broader range of employees. This democratisation of automation is letting them streamline their work and drive unprecedented productivity gains. Business users can now automate tasks like data entry, document generation, and approval workflows without relying on IT support.

Examples of accessible automation

One of the most visible examples of how automation has been democratised is the rise of AI-powered chatbots. These intelligent assistants can handle a wide range of customer inquiries and support tasks. These range from answering simple questions to guiding users through complex processes. By leveraging natural language processing and machine learning, chatbot creation software bypasses the complexity of traditional automation. Employees can deploy and manage chatbots with minimal technical expertise. For instance, a customer service representative can set up a chatbot to handle frequently asked questions. This frees up their time to focus on thornier customer issues.

Another prime example of accessible automation proliferating is drag-and-drop workflow builders. These intuitive tools enable users to visually design and automate complex business processes without writing a single line of code. By surfacing the ability to map the solution and burying the underlying technical elements required to deliver what the user has mapped out, these platforms empower general business users to create and modify automated workflows on the fly, adapting to changing needs and requirements with ease. For example, a human resources manager can create an automated onboarding workflow using AI. The workflow can assign tasks, send notifications, and collect necessary documents from new hires, all without involving the IT department.

Looking at what powers these chatbots and drag-and-drop workflow builders, scripting is also more accessible to non-technical users. Modern scripting platforms now offer pre-built libraries and snippets that users can customise and deploy without extensive programming knowledge. We’re also seeing a rise in the number of AI-powered scripting assistants: a potent combination for those who have not spent their careers in programming or engineering roles. For example, a project manager can use scripting to automate the creation of weekly status reports, pulling data from various sources and generating a polished document with just a few clicks.

Benefits of accessible automation

The benefits of putting automation into the hands of a broader range of employees are significant. First and foremost, accessible automation drives productivity gains across the organisation. By automating routine tasks and processes, employees can focus on higher-value work that requires human creativity and problem-solving skills. This not only boosts individual productivity but also frees up time for innovation and strategic initiatives. Moreover, automating mundane tasks can improve job satisfaction, as employees are no longer bogged down by repetitive, frustrating, or low-value work.

Additionally, accessible automation enhances organisational agility. When employees at all levels can easily automate and optimise their work, teams can respond more quickly to changing market conditions and customer demands. This agility is as crucial today as it’s ever been: the ability to pivot and adapt faster than competitors can mean the difference between success and failure.

Assisted scripting takes accessible automation to the next level by offering unparalleled flexibility and customisation to those who would not consider themselves coders. With scripting, users can automate virtually any task or process, tailoring solutions to their specific needs. This level of customisation enables organisations to optimise their workflows in ways that off-the-shelf automation solutions may not allow. Moreover, as employees become more comfortable with scripting, they can continually refine and improve their automated processes, driving ongoing efficiency gains.

Preparing for an automated future

As the trend towards accessible automation continues to accelerate, IT leaders must take proactive steps to prepare their organisations for the future. This starts with adopting and scaling automation solutions that prioritise usability and accessibility. By investing in platforms that empower general business users, IT leaders can democratise automation and drive widespread adoption across the organisation.

To truly harness the power of automation, organisations must also prioritise upskilling and training their employees. While these tools are becoming more intuitive, there is still a learning curve involved. Providing resources and support to help employees learn how to use automation tools effectively and efficiently is crucial. By investing in employee development, organisations can build a culture of automation and continuous improvement and have staff that are ready to take advantage of all of the advances that lie on the horizon in automation technology.

As part of the upskilling and training process, organisations should consider providing the resources to help employees learn scripting basics. While modern scripting platforms are becoming more user-friendly, a foundational understanding of scripting concepts can help employees automate intricate tasks more effectively and efficiently. By offering scripting tutorials, code libraries, and best practices, IT leaders can empower their workforce to take full advantage of more powerful, script-fuelled automation tools.

The impact of accessible automation will be felt across industries. In healthcare, practitioners can automate patient data collection and analysis, enabling more personalised care. In finance, accessible automation can streamline risk assessment and compliance processes, reducing errors and improving security. Manufacturing companies can empower workers to automate quality control and inventory management, boosting efficiency and reducing waste. As accessible automation continues to evolve, its potential to transform the way we work is limited only by our imagination.

A seismic shift

The rise of accessible automation represents a seismic shift in the way organisations approach efficiency and productivity. As AI and low-code platforms continue to advance, putting automation into the hands of every employee will become not just possible, but imperative. By empowering employees to automate their work and drive their own productivity gains, organisations can unlock new levels of agility, innovation, and growth. The future of work is automated – and it’s more accessible than ever before.

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