RPA and Its Impact
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is gradually making inroads into the IT industry; however, what is its impact on the existing workforce and workplace?
With current technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics being democratised in everyday applications, the IT industry has almost successfully transitioned into the Digital Era. When talking about digitisation, one idea most industry leaders agree upon is that automation is the need of the hour. Along with other new age technologies, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) too has made a mark in the IT industry and according to Gartner 85 percent of big organisations will have deployed some form of RPA by the year 2022.
The Big Question
While RPA is meant to bring about efficiency and reduce errors made in mundane and tedious work done manually by humans, it does give rise to the question of whether there will be a loss of jobs in the IT industry due to democratisation of RPA. Along the same lines, when various industry leaders were asked about what are the likely impacts of RPA on the existing workforce and work place, here is what they had to say:
Automation, a popular emerging technology has an assured place in the future of global businesses. Its impact extends not just to core IT services but also people management and talent acquisition functions. When it comes to the changing nature of jobs; the shift is towards new productivity-enhancing processes alongside the creation of entirely new roles. Specialist roles such as AI, ML or IoT specialists, Big Data specialists, automation experts, security specialists, machine interaction specialists, robotics engineers are on the rise. In relation to hiring, while RPA will and can never completely replace human interaction, it can save time when carrying out repetitive tasks like a candidate or resume screening, scheduling interviews and
rudimentary email responses. As the tech evolves, a deeper level of interaction will be possible with the help of chatbots or voice-bots to conduct initial rounds of interviews.
The New Age
Today, innovation in automation technologies has ushered in a new age of corporate robots using RPA and AI to automate manual, repetitive work. Advances in RPA and AI technologies have the potential to change fundamentally the way enterprise workforces operate. RPA can have relevant use cases in all enterprise functions such as Customer Service, Operations, HR, IT and Finance that will transform workforce designs and create hybrid structures where robots and humans work together. As these robots automate the most mundane, repetitive tasks, humans will need to refocus their efforts or acquire more sophisticated skills to thrive in this new model. Robots, on the other hand, will require scalable and more advanced AI innovations to enable them to learn and become increasingly effective across the enterprise. This is an area where skilled humans can add new value.
“The World Economic Forum believes workforce shifts will be significant, with up to 35% of the skills currently in demand likely to change by 2020. As the adoption of AI and automation becomes more widespread, businesses need to adapt quickly to workforce transitions. India is home to some of the best technology talent in the world and is known for its innovation potential; it is our prerogative therefore, as businesses, to empower employees & our extended ecosystem with skills for the future. Widespread job displacement in the future will not be because of technology or automation, but because of our inability to train and upskill the workforce (and our ecosystem of employees, partners and customers) to embrace the positive impact of automation. “RPA to Transform how Organisations Engage with Employees,” said Renjeev Kolanchery, SVP & Head, Automation CoE, Mphasis.
While it is imperative to leverage next-gen technologies to enhance customer journey and experience; it is also vital for enterprises to have skilled workforce who can ‘apply’ these technologies efficiently. For example, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a crucial building block for both business and people strategy. There is no point looking at RPA in silos. Every organization should pivot technology around the impact it has on end customer/s and work backwards towards augmenting the experience and stickiness. Just as companies such as Facebook and Netflix have already delivered hyper-personalized user
RPA WILL ENABLE HUMANS TO FOCUS ON MORE SOPHISTICATED SKILLS – Faisal Husain, Ceo & Cofounder, Synechron RPA CAN NEVER REPLACE HUMANS – Savita Hortikar, Head, Talent Acquisition, ThoughtWorks India RPA WILL LEAD TO UPSKILLING – Kalki V Yasas, Senior Director, Services, Salesforce India
HUMANS AND MACHINES WILL WORK IN TANDEM – Vivian Gomes, Vice President, Marketing, CSS Corp RPA WILL IMPROVE ACCURACY – Suman Reddy, Managing Director, Pegasystems, India
experiences that build loyal customer relationships, we strongly believe hyper-personalization through next-gen technologies including RPA will both transform how organizations engage with employees and signal profound implications for organizations of the future. When it comes to future jobs, tasks that are repetitive in nature will be displaced and the ability to learn new skills will be critical for individuals to stay relevant. Process automation coupled with AI/ML have made predictability and pattern resolution easier, subsequently increasing productivity exponentially. Current jobs are now shifting from repetitive tasks to more creative tasks.
Robotic Process Automation ( RPA) has opened up immense opportunities for organisations to streamline mundane and repetitive tasks while re-focussing human efforts on higher value tasks. Organisations today are increasingly embracing RPA to drive greater operational efficiencies, reduce cost and have closer connections with stakeholders; including employees and customers. It allows businesses to better leverage employee time into learning new tech or performing more intelligent tasks which eventually enables individuals to focus more on innovation and problem-solving. This not only results in the enhancement of business processes but the enhancement of customer experience as well. Additionally, quality and control can be achieved by implementing rules and guidelines to the automated processes thus ensuring error reduction and improvement in quality and compliance. As businesses are getting future ready, there has been an increase in hiring of digitally-enabled workforces and investment in developing newer applications of RPA to create a sustainable digital transformation. In order to ensure the maximum impact of RPA, businesses will have to create a shift in the mindset and culture of workplaces to provide a well-balanced digital workplace, where humans and machines work in tandem to achieve a common goal. Need to Upgrade Skills What we are currently experiencing is another key cycle of technology influencing work models. But humans have always been at the heart of business operations. Our potential is limited when most of our time is spent executing manual tasks like data reporting. Robotic Process Automation gives us the opportunity to transition these tasks over to systems that can do it faster and more accurately. This phenomenon is not new. History shows how technology allows us to focus on solving complex business challenges that require cognitive thinking. Use of RPA must also be supplemented with re-skilling to augment current work and meet emerging work requirements. With rising AI and automated systems, the quality of job roles will improve resulting in better outcomes as RPA will deliver efficiency. This will also allow employees to solve complex business problems and unlock growth avenues that were previously not possible due to resource constraints. New technologies like RPA offer businesses the possibility to redistribute and leverage the changing model of work to unlock greater productivity from their workforce and create workplace benchmarks.
Robotic process automation tools are already turning or is likely to be implemented around sectors like Banking and Finance, IT, Retail, Healthcare etc. contributing to an increase in employee work efficiency, service delivery and an effective reduction in operational costs. RPA tools are cost effective and can also be customized for specific types of business processes. With multiple sectors now seeing the benefits of the role of RPA, the coming days will see a rise in demand for business specific RPA tools. This in turn becomes an indicator to the opening of newer growth avenues, thereby creating a demand for skilled RPA professionals. In fact, this will also spur on the growth of jobs like developer, project manager, business analyst, automation architect, solution architect and consultant while also creating some entirely new job categories. For existing workforce, there will most definitely be a need to upgrade skills in order to stay relevant in a dynamically changing ecosystem.
“RPA the ‘Macro’s on Steroids,” said Pawan Keswani, HR, Business Partner, Juniper Networks IEC. RPA also referred as ‘Macro’s on Steroids’ is being used by high performance HR Organisation to handle some of the mundane, repetitive task and interaction with existing
RPA SHALL GIVE RISE TO JOBS – Krishna Kumar, CEO and Founder, Simplilearn RPA WILL LEAD TO NET GAIN IN JOBS – Abhiram Modak, Chief Principal Consultant, BFSI Vertical, Persistent Systems
ERP applications/tools. This equips HR professionals to focus more on supporting business strategies, organisation transformation and career development programs. It’s the right antidote for automating rule based and repetitive tasks such as resume screening, offer letter administration, on-boarding process, attendance management, payroll cum expense and exit formalities. When designed around employee self-service process and reduction of manual processes it becomes more of process-based RPA. When infused with Machine Learning (ML) algorithms & Artificial Intelligence (AI) it is more data-based RPA. Based on need, it can be the right toolkit to aid any organization towards true Digital Transformation.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) generally refers to ‘soft’ robots automating repetitive human tasks. There are some fears around redundancy and ‘de-offshoring’, particularly in destinations such as India, as being cheaper and more efficient, robots can potentially be a threat to many jobs, including non-repetitive, intelligent ones. That said, Gartner actually predicts a ‘net gain’ of jobs due to RPA, largely on the AI side of things. Research suggests that AI is also set to create millions of new jobs; ones that will demand a re-skilled workforce. Employees should therefore prepare to learn new skills and enterprises will need to facilitate that. In the future, re-skilling will be the key to thriving.
A widely popular quote by the wise Bill Gates says that “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Going by this, and the ideas put forth by industry leaders one might agree that RPA will never completely replace humans, but in turn will give rise to more skilled employees. Machines and humans will need to work together in order to make any process truly efficient, and Robotic Process Automation could circumspectly ensure that happens.