Automation adoption has the promise of becoming increasingly widespread due to the benefits it provides for businesses, their employees, and ultimately, their customers.
The rising customer demand for quicker levels of service and more personalized offerings has catalyzed businesses to invest in technologies that help them to stay competitive in their markets. One in particular – automation – has quickly become popular across industries to cater to changing customer expectations. According to a global survey of executives by Deloitte in November of 2020, 94% of business leaders are implementing robotic process automation (RPA) solutions to automate routine and repetitive tasks or plan to do so over the next three years.
But, despite the high interest expressed, there is work to be done. According to the same Deloitte survey, just 38% reported that they have fully implemented an intelligent automation strategy throughout their organization.
With big plans for automation on the horizon for many organizations, there is little doubt that there will be a resulting shift in companies’ operating models and processes. RPA solutions are considered digital co-workers given the fact that ‘they’ can undertake specific tasks within organizations, resulting in potential changes to existing job descriptions in certain instances.
The future of work is trending towards one that involves digital co-workers that support us in our day-to-day tasks. Change is truly the only constant, and a successful automation strategy encompasses the best of different RPA technologies to better prepare us for the future of work. What can enterprises do to ensure a smooth integration of their human and digital teams?
It will be important to clearly communicate and properly set expectations with employees in advance of implementations to ensure that human team members understand how they can best leverage and work alongside their digital colleagues. Additionally, it will be critical to equip your human team members with the proper tools and platforms to monitor and optimize their automation solutions in order to extract the maximum ROI.
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Bots and humans: Prepping for collaboration
The RPA market is expected to be valued at over $7.64 billion by the end of 2028. As automation solutions are being introduced in the enterprise more frequently, team members are bound to have questions (and potentially even more apprehension) about their role and job security. To combat misinformation about automation solutions, company leaders must prepare their teams to avoid any negative, far-reaching effects in their organizations.
One of the most important things leaders can do is educate their teams about what RPA can and cannot do. While the common human refrain is of bots “taking” jobs, in reality, they increase job satisfaction among humans by shifting their workloads from simple, repetitive tasks to more complex ones. Bots can complement their human colleagues’ skills to ultimately improve the organization’s performance. It will be critical that leaders explain to employees how automation solutions work as part of a company’s overall strategy to ensure and support a smooth transition. The most effective way to prep the team is by outlining what unique skills humans and machines each bring. For instance, while bots may be able to complete tasks quickly, they pale in comparison to a human’s critical thinking and emotional intelligence.
Further, it will be important for human team members to understand the new tools at their disposal as well. An enterprise falters when it focuses its efforts on acquiring the right technologies without first gauging whether its team has the skills or feels empowered to use them. Although new technologies may promise increases in effectiveness and efficiency, at the end of the day, their success is dependent on human adoption. That means focusing upfront on the training and reskilling efforts that are required to get the most out of your new tech.
Post-implementation, leaders must remain in close contact with employees using any new tech in order to understand what is working well and what isn’t to be able to quickly address any problems that may arise.
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Better together: Optimizing your digital co-workers via automation
Even after human colleagues are on board and training is completed, digital co-workers can cause unforeseen challenges for the enterprise. While leaders won’t need to worry about RPA solutions being “late” to work, bots do challenge leaders in different ways.
Remember that just like their human counterparts, bots need time to learn their jobs. Automation solutions may need six months to a full year before their algorithms are fully optimized for the tasks at hand. When tech leaders aren’t prepared for what it takes and how long it can take to properly train a bot, they may inadvertently create ‘bot sprawl’ by developing more bots than are needed, resulting in too many non-optimized bots and a lackluster ROI. Instead of doing the right thing – creating one effective bot – the organization is left with an array of underperforming automation solutions.
Further to contending with bot sprawl, properly managing bots and automation platforms from different vendors or on multiple licenses can be challenging, time-consuming, and costly, especially as organizations may need different experts who understand very specific details of each vendor and license. Rather than navigating siloes of different bots or licenses, an enterprise can invest in one central solution that supports the organization and teams to track and manage all their bots effectively.
This type of management tool helps give an all-encompassing view of all automation initiatives to better determine if and when new solutions should be added or when they should be ‘retired’.
On the same boat: Constructing a future with RPA
Automation has promises of becoming increasingly widespread due to the benefits it provides for businesses, their employees, and ultimately, their customers. While there are many considerations an organization must navigate in order to achieve a successful collaboration between its human team members and digital co-workers, the exponential ROI in employee engagement, cost savings and efficiencies, and customer satisfaction will make the initial efforts well worth it over the long term.