The Nine Pillars of Intelligent Automation Success

by | May 26, 2022 | Automation, Uncategorized

Intelligent Automation (IA) success is not guaranteed. Various factors challenge efforts to establish and operate a successful enterprise IA services program. Factors such as the following may halt IA services in their tracks before they’re ever even started.

  • No alignment to business outcomes
  • Not operating as a service
  • Too few IA resources and skills
  • Ignoring the change impact of IA
  • Allowing the pipeline to dry up
  • Miscalculating development needs
  • Architecture not aligned with demand
  • Not considering the need for support
  • Failing to fill gaps with new capabilities and/or technologies

If you’re not scared by the above list and still reading, then you believe establishing and operating successful IA services is possible. You’re right, it is. So, in the face of such challenges what is an IA services program to do to increase the likelihood of success?

Consider the following:

  • Familiarize yourself with the nine pillars of intelligent automation
  • Establish, operate, and improve IA services.

This blog will focus on the first of these points – the nine pillars of IA – and a subsequent blog will address the second.

The nine pillars of Intelligent Automation represent the fundamental, critical areas that define success or failure for IA services. Like a house sitting atop its foundation, the performance of IA services rests upon these nine pillars.

The Nine Pillars Are:

Intelligent Automation
The 9 Pillars of Intelligent Automation

Each of these pillars are further described throughout the rest of this blog.


Solid IA services utilize a Strategy pillar that offers a clear vision, objectives, and measures in terms of enterprise business outcomes. When vision, objectives, or measures are unclear, there is no clear direction for IA services. This results in a rambling program that is unable to produce consistent and sustainable results.

A Strong Strategy Pillar Looks Like:A Weak Strategy Pillar Looks Like:
IA performance is defined in terms of business outcomesIA performance is defined in terms of technology outcomes
Stakeholders actively support IA servicesStakeholders are not aware of IA services
IA is viewed as a transformational journeyIA is a project or program


Effective IA services execute on an Operations pillar that defines the model to operate, deliver, govern, and fund IA services across the enterprise. The lack of this model produces an IA program that (1) does not have resources to deliver enterprise IA services and (2) operates in a constate state of uncertainty as to operational roles, delivery, governance rights, and longevity.

A Strong Operations Pillar Looks Like:A Weak Operations Pillar Looks Like:
Governance and control model is definedNo governance and control model exists
A services catalog existsIA as a service is not understood
Funding model is definedIA funding is unclear or “protected”


Capable IA services capitalize on a Talent pillar that communicates the roles, resources, skills, and training paths to meet the enterprise IA demands and fulfill operational duties. The dedication of talent with defined roles, responsibilities, and training paths demonstrates a strong commitment to IA services by the enterprise. The opposite is also true. As long a IA is added to people’s existing day jobs, those people understand there is little commitment to IA.

A Strong Talent Pillar Looks Like:A Weak Talent Pillar Looks Like:
Clear roles and responsibilities definedRoles and responsibilities are unclear
Roles explicitly assigned to individualsIA roles are “in addition to” day jobs
IA talent developed and trained internallyNo internal IA talent developed


Resilient IA services embrace the Change pillar by proactively addressing the adoption and impact(s) of IA services across people, process, and technology. Change is often ignored, and this is not isolated to IA. Ignoring this pillar may impact the extent to which the enterprise and its leaders are viewed as trustworthy.

A Strong Change Pillar Looks Like:A Weak Change Pillar Looks Like:
Formal change approach existsChange is feared and ignored
Automation mindset is standardAutomation is feared or viewed as a tool
Success communicated through storiesLittle communication. No stories


Enduring IA services exist atop a Discovery pillar that provides approaches, standards, and best practices to identify, evaluate, and prioritize automation opportunities. Discovery is a well-discussed activity of IA. What is not as well know is the criticality of this pillar to IA longevity. This pillar drives all work into the remaining pillars. In a real sense, Discovery is the “sales activity” for IA services. If the automation opportunities are plenty, IA services will have much to delivery. If there are little to no opportunities in the automation pipeline, IA services are viewed as unnecessary and no value.

A Strong Discovery Pillar Looks LikeA Weak Discovery Pillar Looks Like:
IA services evangelize and educate regularlyIA services do not evangelize nor educate
Automation pipeline is healthy (50+ opportunities)Automation pipeline is drying up
Opportunities evaluated based on valueOpportunities rarely evaluated


Deliberate IA services construct a Development pillar that guides automation delivery through clear, simple, and concise methods, standards, policies, and best practices. A weak Development pillar invites chaotic and inconsistent delivery activities which, in turn, requires more support.

A Strong Development Pillar Looks Like:A Weak Development Pillar Looks Like:
Implementation is iterativeImplementations are siloed and/or waterfall
Automations are designedAutomations built without design
Development standards existNo development standards available


Towering intelligent automation Services erect an Architecture pillar that provisions, operates, and scales the IA platform through clear, simple, and concise standards, policies, and best practices. Ignoring the need for Architecture may mean (1) insufficient resources provisioned, (2) a complete re-build of automations, and/or (3) additional support.

A Strong Architecture Pillar Looks Like:A Weak Architecture Pillar Looks Like:
Architecture scales with business demandArchitecture is over- or under-built to business demand
Disaster recovery platform availableDisaster recovery is an afterthought
Platform access and security defined across the enterprisePlatform access and security not defined


Sustained IA services tie-in a Support pillar that establishes clear, simple, and concise standards, policies, and best practices to support, maintain, and enhance automated solutions. Support – like the Change pillar – is often an afterthought. Planning and preparing for support and maintenance considerations ensures automations are viewed as valuable.

A Strong Support Pillar Looks Like:A Weak Support Pillar Looks Like:
Support standards existNo support standards available
ITSM is available for automation supportITSM is not available
Automations are support enabledSupport needs are not considered


Inventive IA services ideate an Innovation pillar that identifies and fills gaps with new capabilities and advanced technologies. Ignoring the gaps, new capabilities, and advanced technologies may leave an enterprise in a less competitive position. Technologies such as document understanding, machine language, and process mining tools open the automation pipeline to new opportunities.

A Strong Innovation Pillar Looks Like:A Weak Innovation Pillar Looks Like:
Identifies and fill gaps as a standard practiceRarely takes time to consider and fill gaps
Legacy processes are modernizedImplementations focus on automating the process as performed

IA success is not a guarantee because there can be many points of failure throughout the journey. The nine pillars of intelligent automation offer a guide through the journey to increase the probability of success.

With a solid understanding of the nine pillars, you are prepared to progress to the second point introduced above – establish, operate, and improve IA services.

Begin your intelligent automation journey today

Our team is ready to guide the way.