Enabling digital transformation through automation is gaining acceptance in nearly every industry. However, many organisations are still struggling to understand what this will mean for the future of work. Some enterprises are fully immersed in their digital transformation journeys, covering all processes and people. Whereas, others are ignoring the digital transformation wave, by preferring human innovation over automation. In a changing world, this is leading to four different scenarios for the future of work, according to Forrester Research—automation deficits, automation dividends, the talent economy, and restructured jobs.
But what could be better than a unique combination of scenarios that allows for flexibility. The answer lies in a mix of human invention and innovation, with the advancement of Robotic Process Automation or RPA. The end result can be a spectacular output that improves productivity and helps to lower operating costs. This fast-evolving technology has the ability to impact healthcare, insurance, transportation, logistics, education, manufacturing, and more.
Today, the global RPA market has emerged as a $100 billion opportunity according to equity research firm KeyBanc Capital Markets, and research firm Gartner further estimates that by 2020, 40% of large enterprises will have deployed RPA software, up from less than 10% today.
RPA: Introducing a software robot (or bot) for every day of the week
As RPA advances, the technology is now offering a new solution in the form of ready-to-deploy software bots and digital workers. Take for example a scenario where someone would walk into a supermarket and buy what they need or visit an e-commerce website and place an online order. Today however, they can visit a marketplace for the workforce of the future, called a Bot Store. There, they can choose from off-the-shelf bots that are capable of performing repetitive task-oriented jobs, as well as performing cognitive and analytical work.
Digital workers are downloadable plug-and-play bots that link software robots with transactional, cognitive, and analytical abilities to assist human workers. They remove the robotic part of routine jobs and enable people to focus on value-added work using ingenuity, creativity, empathy and collaboration. These digital workers are slowly but surely accelerating digital transformation.
What’s more, these bots can be obtained by human workers when the need arises with ease. Once the allotted task is accomplished, they can be returned to the marketplace. It’s as simple as renting a movie and then returning it after a few days. While this sounds fanciful, the reality is that such marketplaces for digital workers already exist, and leading companies from varied industries are utilising them. It’s estimated that digital workers are actively helping businesses automate roles and processes 70% faster, at 50% of the cost of total operations and overheads.
Such plug-and-play software bots are indeed changing the digital transformation game. They provide enterprises with customisable bots that can suit unique needs and be easily scaled for increased tasks when the need arises. The added benefit is that by deploying bots to do the mundane tasks of human workers, this allows untapped human potential to be unleashed. Human workers can thus focus on value-added activities and pursue new skills that demand creativity and ingenuity - rather than simply monitor digital solutions for troubleshooting.
Human-centric digital workers
The advantage of this digital workforce is its human centricity. Some prominent business functions where this concept is fast catching on are: accounting, talent sourcing, invoicing, and many more. With rising adoption, digital workers will become common across many more industries and functions. This will lead to a growing ecosystem of channel partners, system integrators, and developers that will operate with little to no supervision.
Across the world, such co-existence is becoming a reality as intelligent machines and human workers are performing side by side. With more companies setting up automation centers, they are improving time to value and ROI through innovative man and machine collaboration. Not only does this improve business outcomes, it also makes jobs more engaging and fulfilling, for human workers. In an age of high attrition and dwindling attention spans, this advantage is priceless.
It is also enabling organisations to tackle the problem of an ageing workforce with ingenuity. As the demographics of the workforce is changing and tech-savvy, mobile-centric and socially networked workers are becoming the norm, enterprises can introduce digital workers to augment and motivate top talent.
The speed of adoption of such digital workers is leading us to the peak of the fourth industrial revolution with employees as the engines of innovation. Human-centric digital workers are here to stay and it visibly has the potential to be truly transformative. So, have you augmented your workforce with digital workers yet?
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The author is EVP IMEA, Automation Anywhere.