It is a fact that businesses built with a digital core tend to outperform those with a traditional operating model. According to research by McKinsey, digitally driven organisations are more profitable than their industry competitors. It is therefore no surprise that adoption of emerging technologies such as Robotic Process Automaton (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the rise.
A recent survey by Gartner found that 37 per cent of global companies have now implemented AI in some form and that the number of enterprises utilising AI has increased by 270 per cent over the past four years. Rather than relying on traditional business processes being operated by office workers, managers, engineers, advisors and customer service reps, a growing number of organisations now depend on digital workers, automation and AI to run their core business processes.
As businesses around the world continue to progress along their digital transformation journey, it is vital that they have a clear roadmap in place aligning their digital strategy to their overall business objectives. In order to so, there are several factors they must consider.
The nature of work is transforming. The deployment of digital workers is allowing enterprises to run in a more efficient manner as robots take on the more repetitive and time-consuming tasks. This is freeing up human time and enabling trained professionals to focus on both their highly skilled functions and more inter-personal roles. In order to benefit from automation, non-digital-born companies must embark on an evolution that starts with digitising and cleansing data so that it is in a useable, workable format.
Before this data-driven transformation can take place however it is vital that a transition takes place at board-level. Executives must understand the benefits of emerging technologies and have the foresight to ensure the technology they choose to implement and the processes they decide to automate help them to achieve their overall business objectives. Only then will the benefits of automation filter down and become clear to the rest of the business units within the organisation.
In an attempt to implement company-wide automation, new roles and career paths have started to emerge in recent years, thanks in part to the rise of the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for automation. Head of AI, Process Analysts, RPA Developers and Low Code/No Code development specialists are all positions that didn’t exist five years ago but are now becoming commonplace. A recent World Economic Forum report found that deep learning technologies will create 133 million subsets of jobs in the next few years. This will no doubt require humans to take on technology expert roles as they manage the significant change within business. Daily tasks and the nature of jobs are changing as routines are handled by algorithms in a more effective and error-free manner.
Upskilling the workforce - both management and employees - with new capabilities and a thorough understanding of the possibilities of AI and automation needs to be a priority for organisations looking to become digitally driven in 2020.
Many organisations believe a skills gap is preventing the business from adopting AI and automating processes. For instance, a recent study by Rainbird.ai discovered that 81 per cent of UK-based companies state a skills gap is preventing AI adoption. While businesses have internal units and development initiatives, it is very difficult to keep up with rapidly changing technology and hold the latest knowledge.
In order for businesses to overcome this issue, they need to start training their workforce by changing their roles to those of higher value and augment their automation issues to technology specialists. Outsourcing challenges means specialists can automate and maintain inefficient business processes, freeing up employees’ time to take on more purposeful work. By adopting one centralised centre of excellence, where experts can track how AI is working and support the business strategy of a company, is vital for success.
Another concern for organisations looking to automate their core business processes is security. RPA is protected within a secure cloud network, but there is still a need for businesses to follow the best security practice when setting it up and maintaining it. A lack of skills around AI and RPA and how to best utilise and implement the technology can result in an absence of security.
To prevent security failure, there must be a better understanding of what RPA is within the organisations looking to implement it. Greater comprehension within the business will also allow more decision-making processes to be built within RPA to evaluate situations to the best ability as well as being fully aware of the eventualities that may occur.
Organisations can achieve optimum business results when humans and digital workers join forces, enhancing complementary capabilities that result in increased accuracy, timeliness and improved compliance. People can perform more highly valued activities and shift away from transactional tasks - which robots do best.
James Ewing, Regional Director UK, Digital Workforce