As the name suggests, the idea of a digital workforce is to mimic the behaviour of human workers only with greater speed and accuracy. As long as it has been properly optimised, a digital system should be able to complete a task without error and in a fraction of the time that it would take a human worker. Not to mention the cost savings.
Indeed, the use of robotics looks set to trigger a productivity surge in years ahead, with the Boston Consulting Group predicting that by 2025, the adoption of advanced robotics and AI will boost productivity by up to 30% and lower labour costs by 18% in many of the world’s largest countries.
We are sitting on a better, cheaper and faster workforce that doesn’t take breaks, can work 24/7 and 365 days a year and is willing to switch tasks on a dime should the need arise. This workforce also dramatically reduces the burden on IT and has the potential to provide a 200% ROI in just one year according to our studies. But what does the digital workforce look like in action?
A digital workforce case study
Last year, a telecommunications contact centre staffed by 6000 people deployed digital workers across their existing platform. This reduced call-handling time significantly and as a result, systems complexity and associated training time were also reduced.
In this example, the digital workforce was able to interact seamlessly with multiple systems, automating end-to-end tasks and providing natural, fluid automated conversation. The bottom-line results? A 25% reduction in cost within nine months with less customer and employee effort required. The main driving force of this strategy was the chatbot at the heart of its solution and it is chatbots that are very much the virtual face of the digital workforce revolution.
Rise of the chatbots
A lot has changed in business over the last hundred years or so, but one constant that has remained is the value of customer control. Yes, technology and cultural progress might have changed almost everything else about how we do business, but all these years later the customer is still king.
That’s why it’s so vital for businesses to have a healthy relationship with their customers and that means instigating customer-centric practices that retain existing customers and entice new ones. That’s where chatbots can prove so vital, as 69% of consumers list them as their preferred means of communication due to their speed and impartiality.
Whilst the first chatbot was technically birthed around 50 years ago by MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum, it’s only in the last decade that the technology has caught up with the concept. China’s WeChat was arguably the first company to perfect and popularise the practise ten years ago, but it’s only been in the last few years, as major players like Facebook and Google have opened their platforms up for chatbot developers, that the hype train has finally pulled into the station.
Chatbots have already been proven game-changers in many industries, with 80% of businesses planning to incorporate them by 2020. They are a key member of the digital workforce, but the way that businesses can get the best out of them is to use them sparingly and always in tandem with a human workforce who can offer more specific feedback, should the chatbot be unable to solve a query. These chatbots should include effortless, automated escalation protocols, to allow users to speak to a human being when the digital worker hits a wall.
We’ve explored some examples of the digital workforce in action and have touched on why it has the potential to be a game changer for any industry that utilises digital technology (and are there any that don’t these days?) but our surveys reveal that 90% of enterprises still have fewer than 20 bots deployed. More damningly, very few of them are automating at scale, so whilst the results and the benefits might be compelling, few are really breaking through.
This creates an opportunity for those enterprises willing to go that extra mile and approach automation strategically by understanding how work is changing and how they can adapt to those changes to create a scalable digital workforce. If enterprises want to take advantage of the truly game-changing opportunities offered by the digital workforce, however, they are going to need to get their heads around the concept of intelligent automation.
What is intelligent automation?
Artificial intelligence is a term that everyone understands, and intelligent automation relies on AI to function. Essentially, it’s a system that utilises robotic process automation (RPA) enhanced by greater cognitive capabilities and digitisation tools with rich user interfaces to automate processes from end-to-end for the users. Machine learning, neural networks and AI are bringing fresh intelligence to digital workers and allowing them to make more informed decisions faster and more efficiently.
This includes everything from voice recognition and optical character recognition, which means machines are able to not only recognise patterns in digital data but in printed and handwritten text too. Intelligent automation isn’t just about automating manual digital tasks either; it’s about platforms that enable bots to interact easily with human workers and platforms that use cloud services to offer seamless access to AI, data analytics and more.
Intelligent automation is either achieved through an RPA platform, which is augmented with compatible tech and individual platforms, or an all-in-one solution, which features a suite of integrated solutions but features an RPA platform at its heart.
Changing the game
Has the game already been changed or is it in the process of changing? We see 2020 as a turning point that’s somewhere in between. But within the next few years, we will hopefully have reached a point where humans don’t need to understand the language of technology anymore because it’ll be up to technology to understand ours!
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