Automation is passe. Hyperautomation is now the cool kid on the block and enterprises around the world are leaning in hard to make the long-awaited promise of advanced process-driven automation technologies real for their stakeholders. Just ask Gartner who predicts that the space will grow to $600 billion in 2022.
Seasoned technology leaders around the world take these types of statements with a grain of salt as they attempt to distill these sensational statements into a grounded reality that can be executed on within their enterprises. It may not be what Fabrizio Biscotti, Research VP at Gartner meant when he said “Hyperautomation has shifted from an option to a condition of survival,” but IQVIA’s new hyperautomation offering may indeed offer a fundamentally new tool to help life sciences teams around the world accelerate research and development of next-generation cancer therapeutics.
MuleSoft and IQVIA have delivered hyperautomation beyond hyperbole
One thing that might help in the quest to connect the inspirational technology concepts to a tangible specific idea for teams to rally around is to have a clear and simple example of how an established, scaled enterprise has taken the concept to market and made use of it to drive quantifiable business results.
One such example just emerged at the 2022 Bio-IT World Conference and Expo. As part of their Natural Language Processing platform, IQVIA took the wraps off of its brand new API marketplace (powered by MuleSoft and HyperCurrent) and a free-to-try set of APIs that unlock natural language processing (NLP) technology for healthcare and life sciences (HLS) enterprises to power a “step-change in insight generation, decision making, and innovation”.
IQVIA has a unique seat in the HLS industry. They don’t deliver healthcare to people. They don’t make or sell drugs. They help companies who create and deliver breakthrough healthcare and life sciences technologies to patients around the world. The IQVIA team has aligned their offering strategy around a key insight: “80% of healthcare insights are locked away in unstructured text”.
Seeking to solve a global problem at enterprise scale, IQVIA and MuleSoft have collaborated to deliver a solution that HLS organizations would see as an “easy button” for unlocking and leveraging the value buried within their trove of unstructured and semi-structured documents.
IQVIA’s initial release garnered an award for innovative practices along with Best of Show nomination and included 5 NLP APIs designed to answer some of the most common questions in healthcare and life science:
- Healthcare Concepts: Helps recognize key healthcare concepts, context, and patterns in data, such as drugs, dosages, diseases, demographics
- Social Determinants of Health (SDoH): Surfaces structured information on social determinants of health, like social isolation, food insecurities, transportation issues
- Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA) Codes: Identifies and codes adverse events into standardized MedDRA concepts
- FDA Drug Label Biomarkers: Extracts gene/protein biomarkers listed in drug labels, with drug and indication, into a structured output
- ClinicalTrials.gov Biomarkers: Extracts gene/protein biomarkers used in clinical trials, with indication, into a structured output
While the prospect of creating next-generation cancer therapeutics is truly exciting and compelling for anyone who’s in the HLS industry or had a personal experience with cancer, there’s an additional aspect of this solution that is of interest to technology leaders regardless of industry. This solution represents fundamental proof-of-life for current industry trends around hyperautomation, process mining, hyperspecialization, legacy modernization, and monetized API ecosystems.
Process mining can yield more than process improvement
Process mining is one of the first efforts that enterprises look to when kicking off a hyperautomation initiative. When industry leaders like Marc Kerremans, VP Analyst at Gartner, speak to the benefits that come from process mining efforts, most of the talking points speak to efficiency, cost reduction opportunities, or how the effort is a fundamental prerequisite for successful hyperautomation efforts. While this perspective is clearly valid, it isn’t complete. In the age of hyperspecialization and unbundling, process mining efforts can also act as maps to new revenue opportunities.
The key to understanding how to turn a process map into an opportunity map lies in your enterprise’s approach to composability. If a process map is leveraged to develop reusable and discrete APIs where each layer of the architecture adds more contextualized value, it opens up the opportunity to offer that output as unique value in the form of a digital product.
This insight is at the heart of IQVIA’s accomplishment in their new offering. Rather than looking at the incremental value of their NLP services as a discrete step in an exclusively internal process, IQVIA’s product teams saw the larger struggles their customers were facing in a zone they had already perfected. Just like the “Aha!” moment that happened within Amazon when AWS was born, IQVIA is looking to process mining and hyperautomation efforts as tools to drive organic revenue growth.
If your enterprise currently produces APIs as part of complex processes, this is the place to really pay attention, because your productized APIs can act as a set of resources that external consumers can compose into their plans and solutions for hyperautomation. While your consumers are leaning into the hyperautomation trend as tools “of survival,” your enterprise extends its product portfolio into this exciting new space and creates a brand new stream of revenue.
Hyperautomation isn’t about replacing humans – it’s about assisting them
While the axiom of “growth solves (nearly) all problems” still remains true in business contexts, it is also true that framing automation initiatives in the context of growth is one of the exception cases.
Whenever automation initiatives are brought up, at any point along the concept to execution timeline, someone in the conversation will, without fail, bring up the question of job replacement. While it may not be true forever, it is true for the foreseeable future that automation and the need for humans to have jobs are linked topics.
One noteworthy aspect of current efforts on hyperautomation is that both the analyst and software communities have fundamentally reframed automation initiatives into something that is not only more palatable for society at large, but is also a much more tractable outcome.
Hyperautomation programs and offerings (like the aforementioned product from IQVIA) are not being positioned as “job replacement” or “role automation” initiatives. Instead, these offerings and solutions are almost universally being marketed as “job assistance”.
The need for bots and pre-baked algorithms to help humans stay sane and productive has never been more clear than now and it’s inspiring to see big enterprises focus their efforts on offerings that will help existing teams get more done, faster and better. Aside from shedding the baggage that comes from being perceived as a job killer, this new model (automation as job assistance) is also dramatically more practical in both its scope and its likelihood of success.
What’s interesting to note here is that the new value promise of hyperautomation mirrors the same approach that serious industries like life science take towards cancer – Don’t try to cure it in one fell swoop. It’s more practical to make it easier for humans to get closer to curing it.
Based on how many of these new “job assistance” offerings are springing up around the world, perhaps it’s a signal that we’re on the right track to a better future where business automation is seen as a fundamental method of improving the lives of workers rather than a way to replace them.