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4 minutes read
Joe Dunleavy and Seth Clifford

The automation of complex business processes is evolving faster than ever, with AI-powered systems now able to handle more ambitious workflows, decision-making and data transformation.  The emergence of agentic AI and its use of autonomous agents to manage these processes marks a new chapter in this evolution, freeing up people to focus on true value creation and revolutionising industries.


However, introducing advanced automation to any business is a challenge, with too fast an adoption causing unwanted disruption. Regulations within certain industries add further complications, with many sectors requiring a level of transparency that current AI models cannot provide.


So, how do we strike the right balance and capitalise on our enthusiasm for AI-powered automation, while progressing at a pace that the business can sustain?


Strong foundations to drive AI transformation


The answer lies in a familiar natural progression. Just as we must crawl before we can walk and walk before we can run, the same principles apply in bringing complex AI-supported automation to our workflows.


The progression as it pertains to automation involves three stages:


  • Improving manual efficiency
  • Enhancing process augmentation
  • Synthesising autonomous agents


Let’s look more closely at the process.


Crawling: improving manual efficiency


This practical first step revolves around using AI to streamline daily work. This could be something as straightforward as a document summary or asset creation, such as building a presentation or constructing a report from business data, allowing employees to focus on more valuable pursuits.


Automating these types of activities can result in reduced human error, faster delivery of insights and, ultimately, lower operational costs. By laying this groundwork, businesses can see immediate benefits, providing motivation for taking the next step.


Walking: enhancing process augmentation


The next step is making AI-powered processes smarter and more aligned with company goals by introducing alignment with specific business workflows. In this phase, the human user is not only giving commands but is passing off some of the actions typically taken by people and allowing the AI to function less as an order-taker and more as a partner.


The AI may augment the user requests with other actions, while the user establishes feedback loops with the system by correcting, clarifying and affirming actions, allowing it to learn and improve.


Running: synthesising autonomous agents


This third, more advanced step allows us to fully realise automation advantages within a business. At this point, AI is not only a team member but a trusted advisor. It’s not only collecting, summarising and analysing but providing real guidance on the next best actions with even less input required by human users


Critically, humans are not removed from the process, but enhanced by it, working in parallel on more strategic initiatives and spending less time on time-consuming tasks.


This is automation approaching its apex: the technological equivalent of a human companion who can do more than a single person ever could. Furthermore, it can assume multiple personas to ensure a challenge is examined from every possible angle before an action is recommended – instantly.


The limitless potential of autonomous agents


Put simply – we’re all autonomous agents. When given a goal, we identify our objectives, outline a plan, create tasks and carry them out.


Whether working alone or as a team, we interact with one another, share information, outputs and feedback before using that knowledge to shape the path forward. We might clarify or refine a request to shape the output of the task at hand.


AI autonomous agents are the same – the only difference being their synthetic nature. These AI agents will respond to feedback, adjust course and remain flexible and adaptable. However, they can operate far faster than humans while maintaining a larger workload.


How does it look in practice? Our agentic AI industry accelerator, that we internally call Morpheus, provides a promising example of how multi-agent autonomous teams can tackle complex challenges in any industry, including regulated fields such as healthcare, insurance, financial services and private equity.


As for us, freed from the weight of repetitive mundane tasks, workflows and constraints, humans will have the time and space to turn to more meaningful work. We can pursue creative solutions, enhance our interpersonal relationships more deeply and collaborate more effectively than ever before.


With such exciting and limitless possibilities, the only question that remains is: when do you begin?


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