Businesses are expected to increase their automation efforts in 2018, however, to ensure success organisations will need to address any potential impact staff to alleviate any concerns, says Steve Weston, CIO of recruiting experts, Hays.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help CIOs address the needs of their workforce and digitalisation projects by streamlining processes and removing some of the more mundane tasks currently carried out by humans. However, the rapid development of technology has the potential to impact an existing workforce.
Steve Weston, explains, “Next year, I predict the corporate world’s focus on automation will step up a gear to address business needs. But the speed of this change will likely leave many employees feeling threatened with many believing robots will replace human roles in the upcoming decades.”
RPA enables employees to configure a ‘robot’ to use any existing applications, such as helping staff to process a transaction, communicate with other systems or manipulate data. The technology has the potential to allow higher skilled employees to focus their valuable talent on other areas as the more routine tasks are automated, freeing up their time to focus on other tasks that still require the human touch. This can be invaluable in skill short areas, as it ensures the skills of employees are put to better use. Another added benefit is the potential to save a business time and money, as well as helping to create a seamless experience for customers.
However, as aspects of certain job roles become automated it could lead employees to become concerned that the process could cost jobs. Steve states that perceptions must be changed and fears addressed, otherwise RPA efforts could prove unsuccessful as a result. Steve uses Amazon as a great example of successfully implementing automation alongside human workers to meet the needs of consumers. Steve explains, “Amazon customers expect to buy a product via their Prime service, and for it to be delivered deliver by the next day. This is a monumental task. So, to meet these demands, robots help to fulfil warehouse orders, while human workers complement the bots by carrying out anything involving judgement, fine motor skills, or unpredictability. In this case, automation helps both the robot and human workers, as each can focus on its specific skill set.”
In the long term, RPA will present more opportunities for staff. While some roles will naturally become redundant, it will also create new roles while evolving others. Steve says it is the role of the CIO to assure staff that more opportunities will be open to them as a result and that staff are given the opportunity to upskill and reskill.
Steve concludes by adding, “Simply put, RPA will result in monumental changes across an organisation. Yes, bots will replace certain mundane jobs – but it will also grant companies the opportunity to upskill their workforce and offer them relevant roles for the future of work. For every perceived disadvantage of RPA, there are a swarm of advantages ready to silence the naysayers. If you understand the impact of RPA, and can translate this work into real benefits for your organisation and workforce, then RPA will have a universally positive impact on your organisation in 2018, and beyond.”