By Neil Parker, GM EMEA, Laiye
As AI and automation hit the headlines with increasing regularity, we often hear frenzied talk of robots ‘taking jobs’. While these sensationalist headlines drive clicks, they aren’t based in fact. Much like other periods of upheaval (the industrial revolution, for instance), the modern workforce is changing.
As consumers shift online, companies need to become more agile in their digital transformation efforts. To succeed in the always-on, fast paced landscape of today, it is critical that workflows, processes, operating models are reinvented to react faster to business requirements.
The next step in RPA
The benefits of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) for meeting this demand are well known. RPA, a form of automation where software bots are coded to replicate the actions of human users for a particular task, has been used for automating mundane admin, diversifying revenue, increasing productivity, and optimising legacy technology.
However, first-generation legacy RPA solutions have been around for years and are not delivering on those promises. These ‘RPA 1.0’ robots’ – the kind that carry out screen scraping – great at automating simple tasks, yet unable to automate more complex ones, never mind intelligently and at scale.
However, RPA combined with cutting-edge technologies such as AI, machine learning, optical character recognition and natural language processing is an altogether different proposition. These ‘intelligent robots’ not only remove mundane tasks, limit human error, and empower workers to focus on work that matters to them; they also continuously improve businesses, giving automated processes the intelligence to grow and reach new potential. This could include outcomes such as identifying trends and insights around changing customer behaviour and predicting future stock supply needs.
A help not a hindrance
Contrary to popular belief, the World Economic Forum predicts automation will result in a net increase of 58 million jobs. Intelligent automation will undoubtedly change the nature of modern work, but with the right technological application, it will benefit workers and businesses.
This scenario has played out before. For instance, bookkeeping software dramatically changed the work done by accountants, but the field continued to grow. It simply changed the nature of the role, as accountants spent less time number-crunching, and more time building client relationships and taking on complex problems.
As intelligent robots optimise day-to-day processes, workers’ roles will consist of those ‘truly human’ tasks that cannot be automated, allowing employees to take advantage of their emotional intelligence, empathy, critical thinking, and creativity.