Although robots have been stereotyped as an imminent threat to our jobs, they are increasingly becoming reliable and appreciated co-workers for employees on a global scale.
The human workforce itself will reap the benefits from the incredible advances in robotic process automation (RPA), explains Guy Kirkwood, chief evangelist at software firm UiPath.
RPA can help businesses to optimise costs, achieve higher accuracy and increase compliance. However, Kirkwood emphasises that enterprises should not adopt automation software to reduce employee headcount and numbers.
“According to Gartner, robots create more jobs than they replace, and once companies introduce automation they realise the true value of their people,” he explains.
In a recent Forrester Consulting study, commissioned by UiPath, 66% of respondents said RPA restructures existing work, enabling employees to have more human interactions, and 60% said RPA helps employees focus on more meaningful, strategic tasks. The study surveyed 100 decision-makers from core business lines including finance, accounting and HR.
Kirkwood highlights that jobs are constantly “evolving”, and that people should not be concerned by the implementation of intelligent automation. “During the first industrial revolution, 98% of people worked the land. As that figure is now only 2%, does that mean that 96% of the population is unemployed? Of course not.”
He states that unattended robots can carry out the mundane activities, whereas attended robots can assist employees with the tasks they find enjoyable.
“Companies find when they put in RPA, actually, their employees are doing much more effective jobs,” he says. “If employees can remove the ‘busy’ work and they can focus on what they believe is most important, they’ll knock the ball out of the park.”
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According to the Forrester survey, customer service is one of the top three benefits that 85% of surveyed firms expect to achieve through RPA. The study emphasises the importance of eliminating the ‘customer first’ mantra and states that successful automation and cutting-edge customer services are even more concerned with employee experience.
Kirkwood sees the future of RPA enabling machines and humans to work more collaboratively with “one robot per employee for all employees in the world”. And he drives home that identifying RPA as a tool for employee satisfaction outlines RPA’s potential as a mechanism for mass empowerment and job creation rather than unemployment.
“We build robots, so humans don’t have to be robots,” he says. “Employee experience and culture will become the only true differentiator in business within the next ten to 20 years as everything else will be automated.”
Guy Kirkwood will be speaking about automation and the future of work at DIGIT’s Intelligent Automation Summit on Thursday the 20th of June, 2019.