The History of Hyperautomation

The History of Hyperautomation

Published By : Cydney McCollum May 13, 2022

The History of Hyperautomation


Now that we have defined and dissected what hyperautomation is, let’s take a step back in time to as early as 1920 to understand how all seven hyperautomation capabilities came to be.

During this episode,o. you will learn about the history of the seven distinct hyperautomation capabilities. Specifically, you will hear how Process Mapping, Process Mining, Task Automation, Capture, Workflow, Content, and Decision Automation capabilities originated. From parenting twelve children to defining process mapping, saving man-hours on Wall Street to the start of Robotic Process Automation, scanning a simple picture of your child to the creation of Optical Character Recognition, and much more, each automation capability has its own story of how it came to be. Not only will you get a glimpse into the history of the hyperautomation capabilities, but you will also listen to a bonus section that travels back to the very beginning of hyperautomation, nearly 2 million years ag

Follow along with the episode now!

Watch Episode 2 NOW


The History of each Hyperautomation Capability:

1. Process Mapping 

  • The early 1920s:
    • Process mapping was introduced into the Industrial Engineering curriculum.
    • Made cross over from pureplay engineering over to the business side with Procter & Gamble, applying Frank’s concepts to a program they called “The Deliberate Methods Change Program
  • 1921: Created the same year Babe Ruth achieved the homerun record

Frank Gilbreth: Father of Process Mapping

Mechanical Engineer

Who the father in the movie “Cheaper by the Dozen” is based on. Author of the original book that inspired the movie.

Made a presentation to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers called “Process Charts: First Step in Finding the One Best Way”: View Presentation Now


Many of his concepts still hold true today

For Example, His method for making examining, and improving a process

2. Process Mining: “the missing link between process mapping and data science”

  • Why?
    • Process mapping has equally lacked in data and big data as much as data science has lacked in process or procedural context
    • Process mining bridges this gap
  • 1999:

Will Van der Aalst: Godfather of Process Mining

Computer scientist and prolific Dutch researcher

Coined the phrase in a research proposal

New Field: Process Mining Research

Celonis Chief Scientist as of 2021

  • 2000:
    • Alpha Minor: First practical algorithm for process discovery was introduced
  • 2009:
    • A governing body formed to overlook the norms and standards used in this field
  • 2011:
    • “The Process Mining Manifesto” was published
    • Read the brief document “Four guiding principles and 11 challenges”: View “The Process Mining Manifesto” Now
    • Most challenges have been addressed today by combining mining with mapping to create the most accurate possible view of business processes and business architecture

3. Task Automation: RPA (Robotic Process Automation)

  • 1991

Wall Street: to make the most informed trades and financial models, the late 80s/early 90s bankers would subscribe to a financial data company (ex: Thomson Reuters) that would serve up finance data on virtually anything that could be bought and sold.

Consuming this financial data from the banker’s perspective was done on something similar to a web browser

Bankers would look over endless data tables, find the data they need, and manually key this data into their financial models to make a trade



 Realized they were going to the same place, to get the same data continuously so they made lines of code to consolidate all the data into one table and screen scrape/data scraping on the UI level of the finance page

Saved bankers a significant amount of time every morning on data prep

  •  1993:
    • Excel version 5: included Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
    • VBA: automated a series of repeatable tasks that happen in Excel based on predetermined triggers
    • Macro based technology went beyond screen scraping
    • The intent of this technology has stayed the same for over 30 years

4. Capture: Intelligent OCR (Optical Character Recognition)

  • Goes back 200 years
  • 1957:
    • Russell Kirsch (and team): built the first image scanner called a “drum scanner”
    • Drum scanner: Combined technologies from the telegraph and telephones and photographs
      • Took the first-ever digital scan by digitizing a photograph of Kirsch’s son Walden from 1957
      • Kicked off the next century of capture
    • The 1960s: The First modern fax machine was invented which led to
      The 1970s: Creating the High-resolution flatbed scanner

5. Workflow: Business Process Management (BPM)

  • 1980s:

Office productivity spiked with the scanners and fax machines

Ted Smith: an entrepreneur who founded FileNet in 1982

How can we continue to digitize how work gets done?



1985: Smith combined various emerging technologies like the scanner for input, laserdiscs for storage, network for connectivity, and a bit of his own proprietary technology to create FileNet Distributed Operating System (FDOS)

  • The first operating system that included a workflow scripting system

1990s: FDOS was improved upon and eventually renamed Workflow Business System

    • After acquisitions, turned into a product called Visual Workflow
      • Featured the work workflow graphical user interface
    • Ted Smith and FileNet (later acquired by IBM) commercialized the idea of pushing work to users based on an originating business event (Ex: scanning a paper application form)

6. Content: Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

  • Solves another problem created by capture…. What do we do with all these paperless documents? How do we store, manage, and secure them?
  • Predates worldwide web, public internet, and the original internet (1983)
  • 1973:
    • Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, and the university’s computer back education research lab
    • A group of researchers started a project and then called the company Plato Notes
    • Plato Notes: created first of a kind email, phonebook, and document database platform
      • Renamed to Lotus Notes in 1984
      • Each product within the Lotus Notes platform took on its own product development lifestyle and the document database was that seed that turned into modern-day ECM
      • Inspired other famous document management systems (ex: FileNet and Laserfiche)
    • 2017:
      • Association for information and Image Management: Authority on document management systems since 1943
      • Tried to officially rename Enterprise Content Management to Intelligent Information Management
      • Content Management VS. Enterprise Content Management:
        • The difference comes down to one word….“Workflow”
        • ECM: becomes ECM when you add an awareness of the business process for which that piece of content was created

7. Decision Automation: Business Rules Management or Decision Automation

  • Historical roots are nestled deeply within “The Business Rules Manifesto”
  • The Business Rules Manifesto: Written by The Business Rules Group
    • Founded in 1980s
    • Defined and refined statements and supporting standards about the nature and structure of business rules
    • Includes 20 years of thought, leadership, and practical experience
    • Has been translated into 12+ languages
    • Still references as an authoritative source of guidance on modern-day business rules projects
  •  Software: ILOG (Intelligent Software)
    • Founded in Paris, France in 1987
    • IBM acquired in 2008
Bonus Section!


The essence of Automation:

  • Technology, digital or physical
  • Anything that makes our office life easier

2000 years ago: Created aqueducts to automate carrying water to the city

2 million years ago: Created the stone axe


Things don’t change that much! Half of these technologies were designed to create a paperless office.  That was 40 years ago! And then again, things do change. Learning about the history of hyperautomation has shown how far we have come. It shows how much easier it is to get from having an idea to actual business value with how far each of these capabilities has come.
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More on Hyperautomation:

Hyperautomation Home Page

What is Hyperautomation?

Scaling Beyond RPA to Hyperautomation

North Star Methodology

More on Salient Process:

Salient Process Home Page

Bots & Thoughts: The Hyperautomation Podcast

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