Organizations of all kinds are looking for ways to reap the many benefits of robotic process automation (RPA), including reported cost savings of up to 60% and time savings of up to 90%. In fact, Gartner estimates that by the end of 2022, 85% of enterprises will have some form of RPA implemented in their business. However, this kind of huge disruption across many different industries can cause some concern among employees as many begin asking themselves…
This is one of the most frequent questions that arise when we implement robotic process automation projects for clients. The idea of building a “digital workforce” is likely to feel threatening to many people, especially when you start asking them to provide information about the work they do, how do they do it, or how fast they can do it. And, even more so, when they find out that a digital worker (i.e., an RPA bot) can apply pre-configured rules to perform that same task faster, without supervision, and with 100% accuracy – working 24/7 with no coffee breaks or sick days.
Even with all of those comparative benefits to human employees, the answer to the question is “no”, for more than 95% of global jobs.
According to a comprehensive McKinsey report, less than 5% of jobs will be completely replaced by automation technologies by 2030. The report also specifies that, although most jobs will be affected by automation in some way, the vast majority of activities (70-85%) will still need to be performed by people during the next decade.
And there’s even better news. A recent survey report by The Economist Intelligence Unit indicates that the implementation of automation technologies often prompts businesses to hire more staff to handle new requirements like data management and software maintenance.
Now that we’ve established that it’s unlikely RPA or other automation technologies will completely replace your job or those of your employees, let’s take a look at how it can actually enhance human work and career perspectives.
Robotic process automation is designed to allow software bots to take charge of those common, repetitive, manual, and tedious tasks that, let’s face it, few of us enjoy doing. And as a result, it empowers living and breathing people to focus on those tasks that require critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration – the types of tasks that drive innovation and business growth.
With RPA, employees can spend more time brainstorming new and innovative ideas, providing high-quality customer service, analyzing data to make better business decisions, and any number of other tasks that require uniquely human qualities.
People can also work side-by-side with their digital counterparts. Human intelligence and decision-making skills may be needed for some of the more complex tasks in a process or to handle exceptions as they arise and are flagged by an RPA bot. People can also monitor bot performance levels, work on optimizing automated processes, or focus on applying RPA to even more business processes.
New roles, responsibilities, and business opportunities will naturally arise as robotic process automation and other automation technologies become more widespread. In order to take full advantage of RPA, business leaders should seek to identify these opportunities and provide employees with the education and training required to reach their full potential alongside the new digital workforce.
According to The Economist Intelligence Unit survey report, some of the most important skills an automation-age employee will need include problem solving, creativity, collaboration, and openness to change.
As you can see, RPA is not about pitting humans against machines. On the contrary, the goal of RPA is to find ways to leverage the combined power of human intelligence, creativity, and complex decision-making ability with the speed, accuracy, and reliability of bots for so many repetitive, rules-based, and time-consuming business processes.
At its core, it’s all about collaboration. Your employees deserve better than dull, robotic work. Let bots do what they do best, and let people shine with all those incredible human skills they possess.