These days, the popular media are full of articles about machines that use big data to perform almost any task without human intervention. But is this really true? And what is the meaning of ‘almost any task’ in this context?Our experience with our clients, who come from every industry, indicates that while automation has considerable power, human intervention is still very necessary.We refer to our approach as mind+machine™, which means ‘humans supported by automation’. Every research and analytics service is best addressed by a mix of expertise and best-in-class tools. Automation improves productivity, time-to-market and quality of output, while the human mind adds the critical value of interpretation, contextual knowledge, creativity, communication, and organizational embedding of the workflow.An example of this approach at work will illustrate the value of a combination of human and automation. A pharmaceutical client was not satisfied with their existing active online listening (AOL) tool, which was just an automated research tool with no human element. They felt that they were not getting the required quality of conclusions. They switched to our Active Online Management solution, which combines the work of experienced pharmaceutical analysts and Evalueserve’s AOL platform. They were much happier with this solution as the insightful information was directly useable in their strategy planning. In addition, they cited a much better ROI.The achievable degree of automation depends a lot on the particular service or analytic use case. Our investment banking clients have measured improvements of up to 100% in productivity and up to 25% in average delivery time saved by leveraging Evalueserve’s automation platforms for functionalities such as analytics, workflow, document creation, dissemination and publishing, and knowledge management or re-use. Even in areas that were harder to automate, for example in market intelligence or research, our technology solutions have enabled improvements of up to 50%, and much higher degrees of re-use by applying modern knowledge management and workflow techniques.The future will see further improvements in terms of technology, but we believe that more than 95% of analytic use cases will still need a human mind involved in order to deliver the right quality and added value to our clients. The business environment will change, but human minds will always be needed.Where do you see technology helping you and your business succeed? Let us know what you think about automation and the power of machines.