Why Intelligent Automation Is Critical for the Future of Government

Wright Studio/Shutterstock.com

Leaders should keep in mind that IA can mean jarring changes for their agencies.

It’s the stereotype that won’t die: the rise of soulless, artificially intelligent machines that will steal jobs from honest, hard-working Americans.

While that idea might make for good science fiction, it’s a far cry from the real nature of automation, especially as it applies to government.

The fact is, intelligent automation (IA) is not about labor arbitrage, it’s about labor augmentation. Intelligent automation is about removing the mundane, routine tasks that employees prefer not to do, and redirecting their efforts to more satisfying tasks that require human judgment and experience.

So why is intelligent automation so important to government? The short answer is that government faces urgent challenges that intelligent automation can help address, including reduced budgets, declining workforces, and increased demands and citizen expectations.

It’s a good time for government to seize the opportunity and some agencies are doing just that. For instance, some are wisely starting their IA journey by establishing advisory committees on automation and building proofs-of-concept to determine their return on investment, while developing IA roadmaps.

Other agencies are even further along. My firm has worked with a federal health care agency to deploy automation to improve the efficiency and quality of its data collection process—freeing employees to focus on more valuable, customer-facing tasks. The General Services Administration is using a chat bot to onboard new employees. The National Institutes of Health is using cognitive computing as a way to help it determine where and how to direct research funding. The Food and Drug Administration is automating certain data sets.

There are a few things agency officials, particularly chief information officers, should keep in mind before jumping into IA. The first is to determine which of the three classes of IA to pursue. To automate routine, repetitive tasks, such as cutting and pasting data from one form to another, consider the entry-level class: robotic process automation. RPA tools can work with existing IT architecture and can serve as a good launch point as agencies gain sophistication.

For agencies ready to move up the IA food chain, the next class is cognitive automation. This class includes a range of tools and technologies, including natural language processing, which can address a large number of complex transactions, requiring a deeper level of analytics of both structured and unstructured data. These tools can potentially transform back office operations, but they require integration with an agency’s existing architecture. One example is the use of a chat bot on an agency’s website that can help a citizen gain information through text or voice chat.

The highest level of sophistication is reasoning cognitive automation, which holds the promise of learning and solving problems using artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing. Can you imagine having IBM Watson at your side when facing a highly complex problem, such as examining large data sets and looking for patterns that might indicate possible fraud, or trying to assess the best approach to a cybersecurity problem?

For any agency planning the leap into IA, the key is to start small. Choose a particular process to automate and get the right tool for the job. Once that process works well, scale it across the organization and then tackle more complex processes.

Finally, leaders should keep in mind that IA can mean jarring changes for their agencies, which argues for addressing cultural and governance issues up front. IA is more than a technology issue and leaders from across an agency should participate in the planning. And of course, clear, honest communication with the agency’s workforce to describe changes and why they’re occurring is required.

Intelligent automation has the potential to generate incredible value in government services. By harnessing data and technology to engage more citizens, augment workforce capabilities, and improve employee satisfaction, intelligent automation can pave the way for government of the future: innovative, exciting, and increasingly more in touch with the citizens it serves.

Kirke Everson is the government intelligent automation lead at KPMG LLP. Tony Hubbard is the government security practice leader at KPMG LLP. The views expressed are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent those of KPMG LLP.

NEXT STORY: Breaking Down What DevOps Means

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.