The Age of the Autonomous Enterprise is Coming—Pega Research 

The next 10 years will see a significant shift towards adoption of AI and automation to improve enterprise agility, driven by inefficiencies in legacy technologies, according to the study.

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Within the next decade, the majority of global business decision makers will fully embrace the “autonomous enterprise,” defined as a company that applies artificial intelligence to business processes to make them self optimizing, according to new research from Pegasystems Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.). Pega CTO Don Schuerman, who provided the above definition at a press conference, further described the autonomous enterprise as AI-driven, automated end-to-end, and self-optimizing. The study, conducted by research firm Savanta (London) and unveiled at PegaWorld iNspire, the company’s annual conference in Las Vegas, surveyed 600 business decision makers worldwide on their understanding of the autonomous enterprise, their plans for implementation, and some of its drivers.

“This study tells us unequivocally that the age of autonomous is not only coming—in many respects, it’s already here,” said Schuerman. “Applying AI and automation to decisioning, operations, and servicing across the organization will create a major change in the mindset of how organizations operate and drive the rise of the autonomous enterprise in the coming years.”

Don Schuerman, CTO, Pegasystems.

A Pega statement published this morning describes the autonomous enterprise as an organization that comprehensively applies AI and automation to engagement, servicing, and operations across the organization to operationalize agility and create a business that can become self-optimizing. The study found that 58 percent of respondents expect to define themselves as an autonomous enterprise within the next 10 years. With just 15 percent saying they feel they are already at this stage today, and 36 percent projecting they will reach this point five years from now, the upward curve of autonomous enterprise adoption is clear. The Pega statement underscored the fact that three quarters (73%) of respondents said they already have some sort of plan to start becoming an autonomous enterprise. When asked what they expected their position to be 10 years from now, an overwhelming 96 percent said the same, the statement reports.

Pega asserts that one of the leading drivers of this new age of self-optimizing technology is a growing understanding of issues caused by old, inefficient ways of using technology to solve one-off problems. These include the following, as described by the vendor:

No such thing as a ‘quick fix’: When asked what their primary technology investment strategy was, almost half (46%) of respondents pointed to either ‘quick fix’ technology solutions to resolve specific issues, or off-the-shelf software solutions that provide pre-packaged capabilities for specific applications. Forty percent admitted that such ‘quick fixes’ had resulted in operational inefficiencies within their organization, with more than one third (35%) saying it has increased risk. Forty percent also cited their belief that such ‘band-aid’ solutions were quicker to implement as their rationale for using them, with 31 percent saying their options were limited because they must stick to an approved list of vendors. Only 4 percent of respondents said they do not invest in one-off, disconnected ‘band aid’ technology solutions at all.

Increased costs: One quarter of all respondents say they spend between 51 and 100 percent of their annual IT spend on maintaining solutions that are no longer fit for purpose. Forty-one percent say that investments in disconnected legacy systems have resulted in increased costs.

Client Pain Points: More than one in three (36%) respondents say they are kept awake at night worrying that customers aren’t getting a good enough experience and that they risk losing them to a competitor. One quarter of respondents also pointed to concerns that siloed legacy technology, systems, and channels had already led to disjointed customer experiences (30%), poor customer service (26%), or loss of customers and revenue (26%).

Eighty-four percent of respondents agreed that unified platforms that connect systems and channels to automate, self-optimize, and align workflows and decisions to business strategy will be either ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important to improve their operational efficiencies. With the vast majority (75%) also agreeing that AI will have a role to play in their business over the next five years—40 percent say it will be “pivotal”—the rise of the autonomous enterprise looks set to gather pace in the years ahead.

“In a new world that moves at the speed of AI, manual work, static decisioning, and band-aid solutions are holding back the legacy enterprises of today,” Schuerman added. “The successful organizations of tomorrow will be autonomous enterprises that operationalize agility and focus, bringing people together to deliver hyper-personalized engagement, hyper-efficient operations, and seamless customer experiences. This requires a change in technology but also a change in mindset. As the speed of change increases, a self-optimizing autonomous business will be able to deliver the best-in-class experiences customers and employees demand and deserve.”

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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