One thing that all innovators have historically held in common is that they are agile enough to change and respond to trends when they appear to be having a major impact on either the industry, the world at large, or both. Intelligent automation (IA) and digital workforces might represent change, but they should also be seen as tools that allow businesses to make those necessary changes without causing detrimental disruption.
Indeed, if pitched right, it’s a change that can completely reinvent the business and its operations by allowing for greater agility. Without the need to hire and train more staff or divert key resources, productivity can flourish, and it won’t cost you a small fortune.
Speed and agility
It’s been estimated that around 50% of the tasks workers do could potentially be automated with today’s technology. Not only that, but automation will increase the speed and efficiency of those tasks. This leaves ample room for intelligent automation to step in and help to speed up the execution of everything from coding and customer service to more intricate back-end systems. Automation can also be deployed in little more than a few weeks and will seamlessly integrate with existing applications and cognitive services. And as we all know, faster is always better, particularly when it comes to ROI.
Aside from speed, IA also allows for greater operational agility, with 24/7 work as standard and the ability to automatically balance workloads, address peaks and troughs in demand and react to unplanned events. A digital workforce operates in a borderless workplace that allows them to switch tasks to meet demand without requiring human resources or training. This can be incredibly freeing.
Playing at both ends
Many companies tend to focus their digital transformation on front-end applications, at least at first. They often struggle with their back-end legacy systems, however, as there are antiquated legacy systems woven deeply into many businesses that can be incompatible with intelligent automation.
Front-end applications (design, SEO, accessibility and web-based compatibility) can easily be integrated into legacy systems to speed up innovation and improve the customer experience. The back end, however, is more problematic.
Still, IA is able to move useable data from one application to another, which means when it comes to enabling long-term organisational agility it can be an incredibly useful tool. Freed from such constraints of siloed systems, everything can together seamlessly and automatically.
Intelligent automation in action
A perfect example of intelligent automation being used in an agile way is a wealth management company we worked with recently. They wanted to use IA to enhance the experience of clients submitting Surrender Requests (essentially “give me my money” messages).
Asset managers needed to be able to carefully balance their compliance and security obligations against the needs of their customers. Their existing process simply wasn’t working; even a simple call was driven by complex system checks and long periods on hold as advisors had to manually manipulate systems and check external databases. This would take, on average, around 15 minutes.
Intelligent Automation was deployed to automate this work in under two minutes, leaving the organisation and its advisor as much time as was necessary to talk the client through the process and the options. Client satisfaction went up significantly as a result, as did retention of funds and efficiency. Advisors were much happier too as they could focus on the jobs they wanted to.
This is, in a nutshell, why the digital workforce exists - to take the jobs that were laborious and drawn out and automate them so that they take a fraction of the time. This means an increase in customer satisfaction, brand image and (crucially) the bottom line.
72% of workers are worried about a future in which robots can do many human jobs. The truth is, however, that this eventuality is already a possibility. OECD Secretary-Genera Angel Gurría, states that in order to achieve true agility, businesses require “an effective system for lifelong learning, offering opportunities to the low-skilled, who are the most at risk from automation.”
These unskilled workers are beholden certain physical rules - they can’t (and won’t) work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are often limited by a siloed skillset. Bots don’t work shifts are multi-skilled (and always able to learn new skills) and most importantly of all they require no organisation. These new workers are very different from their flesh and blood counterparts and need to be treated as such - this is a fundamental change to the nature of work.
That’s why businesses hoping to benefit from a digital workforce need to understand how the nature of work is changing and ensure a place is found in this bold new work for their human workers. Because without a human workforce to drive creativity and innovation, a digital workforce is frankly useless.
Humans and robots
The future of work needs to represent a meeting of the minds; a bot-human workforce that is able to match the agility of intelligent automation with the empathy and creativity of human specialists. This will enable improved customer journeys at all levels because human inventiveness will create new products and services, which increases productivity and will lead to new work that can eventually be automated.
It will always be up to the humans to have the ideas, but robots can take those ideas and make them work faster, cleaner and with greater reliability. It’s a perfect match of practicality and creativity that will lead to a world where innovations can be actualised faster and all businesses that are willing to adapt can do so with strength and agility.
If you are about to embark on automation or are scaling up your digital workforce, we’d love to talk to you. Whatever stage in your journey, we can help. Find out more about our Robotics services and solutions here.