Countdown to a Digital Workforce

I was recently interviewed at the Robotic Process Automation and Artificual Intelligence in Summit in December 2016 in London. Here’s a discussion on how organizations worldwide are building their Digital Workforce.

Organizations worldwide are building their Digital Workforce. The countdown has begun and we foresee 3 Million Digital Workers by 2020. We believe that Human workers, alongside the Digital bots, creates a hyper productive workforce and building a Digital Workforce is about talent augmentation, not talent replacement.

For example, many mundane, repetitive tasks can be automated freeing people to create, think, discover, and ultimately build great companies. There are several examples of this in the world today. And in this interview, we ask Shail to discuss the main trends concerning the space.

What is the most important aspect of a successful RPA deployment?

Robotic Process Automation has taken the world by a storm. We are seeing a rise in adoption and in particular the need for a Digital Workforce platform that combines Enterprise RPA, Cognitive technologies and Analytics.

Our platform is deployed to now 500+ customers worldwide. There are several aspects to successful RPA deployments.

Firstly, it’s about establishing the right success criteria and KPIs to measure RPA ROI (cost, cycle time reduction, accuracy, compliance, new business opportunities) depending on where in the RPA journey you are. This provides you with the right framework to continue to the next stage of your RPA journey.

It’s also imperative to adopt an RPA Center of Excellence (COE) model to ensure that your organization is ready to capture best practices, disseminate key knowledge & scale automation efforts as needed.

Together, these principles can help companies improve their RPA initiatives.

Would you advise companies to look at a pilot program?

Absolutely. Often a pilot gets business stakeholders familiar with RPA and what it can do. You don’t have to try out every feature or function of the product but get key steps automated quickly and ensure that larger automation is possible when you start your RPA efforts. Our solution is designed to address task or process automation for an organisation of any size.

Artificial Intelligence remains nascent in many industries, when do you think this will change?

We are already at a key juncture where the abundance of data and computing power and the popularization of AI algorithms is having an unprecedented impact on many industries. Business stakeholders are recognizing the power of recommendation engines, predictive analytics, classification & supervised learning from several consumer level applications and want to leverage AI for business purposes. We will see a flood of enterprise use-cases and the adoption will only accelerate with time.

Do you think companies’ employees should fear the arrival of automation? Or is it simply a case of their role evolving?

Automation is about humans and bots working together to create a hyper-productive digital workforce. Human potential is enormous. Certainly some jobs will be automated creating unprecedented ability to accelerate innovation by unshackling humans from mundane, repetitive tasks that machines can perform, quickly and free of errors.

There have been waves of automation in the past. The first era was in the 19th century when machines took away the dirty and dangerous tasks leading to creation of industrial equipment from looms to cotton gin relieving humans of manual labor. In the second era around the 20th century, machines took away the dull, with automated interfaces and with airline kiosks to call centers, relieving humans of routine service transactions. In this era, the third one, machines take away decisions with intelligent systems from airfare pricing to AI solutions that could make better, faster choices than humans.

What’s common in every era, is the human resilience to rise above. This wave or automation may seem scarier for people than previous ones, because it may be hard to see the higher ground to which humans might move. I see this not as a zero-sum game with machines taking over, but growing possibilities and opportunity for augmentation.

It’s about talent augmentation rather than talent reduction.

Do you have an automation success story you would like to share? What was your role in the process?

There are a number of success stories we could discuss. For example, we helped a major global bank automate their banking transactions for higher efficiency and productivity and automated reporting.

We also worked on a project with a major retailer. They now use RPA to significantly enhance the factory to store to consumer turnaround time. Another pertinent example was that of a transportation and logistics provider, which now uses automation to audit and track every bill which is generated by its system.

Another example is a local US county health and human services agency in California, which now uses automation and bots for complex document verification processes involved in document processing & digitization of their legacy system. Results included significant improvements in turnaround time, streamlined rudimentary processes, document error reduction, reduced risk and overall cost savings.

One final example, is ANZ, Australia’s Fourth Leading Bank. Their goal was to be more agile in managing workload variability, reduce risk from error, and help employees acquire new skills. In the first six months, ANZ deployed about 100 Digital Workers (bots) and the bank is adding 100 more each quarter. Cost savings are over 40% and response by employees to opportunities to learn new skills and improve their productivity has been overwhelmingly positive. You can hear from both Simen Munter and Pankajam Sridevi, ANZ Global Hubs, who discuss the process here []

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