Using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) To Augment Your Employees.
Work has always been about solving problems. The best businesses solve problems for their customers better than the competition. The employees at these companies wonder about how to increase revenue, how to reduce expenses, how to efficiently deliver products to the customer etc. The tools with which we’ve solved problems have changed over the years. Assembly lines and heavy machines were the tools in the industrial age. In the post industrial era we started to rely more on computers and our brains as the tools for solving these basic business problems. And right now we are in the midst of a transition to tools of robotic process automation (RPA). RPA tools are more intelligent than the traditional brute force tools of the past with robots, artificial intelligence and cognitive computers.
Unfortunately the noise is all about how these tools will be taking over from you and I. Customer support employees, rote workers and low-level roles will be eliminated en-masse is what we hear. Even knowledge workers in consulting and corporate strategy are at risk. Wired reports we might get some jobs after AI has taken all the manual ones, Fast Company suggests you and I need to plan for the future robotic workforce, my car rental checkout guy kept going on about hating machines/how Skynet might kill him and awhile ago Volvo announced that their ROAR robots will take over garbage collection and handling. Researchers at Oxford University even came up with a probability metric to help you determine how likely you are to lose your job to a machine. Note: Clergy, CEOs, athletes, economists and hairdressers are safe, the rest of us are not.
But as always this isn’t that cut and dry.
Most of us (at all levels of employment) will end up with Amplified Intelligence not Artificial Intelligence replacing us. Amplified Intelligence is being pushed by Deloitte as they try to carve out a space in the noise of consulting expertise (wisely). Think of it as what happened when
- we moved from a man in an apron beating metal (the blacksmith),
- to a foundry with a floor manager and
- then to engineers inputting correct heat settings on a furnace;
the output (pure metal) did not change, the tools just got better.
In the era of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning you and I, and the customer service and support that we support at Powerbot, just happen to be the blacksmith (without the apron of course). AI and Machine Learning will be force multipliers for how you and I do our work. They already are in many sectors. I’ve heard it said that the future of work won’t be based on how much data is out there, it will be based on how you use that data. The ability to utilize insights gleaned from several years of customer interactions will enhance the provision of that service and lead to increased customer satisfaction. And we know that increased customer satisfaction is the one metric that the utility industry needs to upgrade the most.
An unintended but unsurprising consequence of robotic process automation is that the best talent will become even better at what they do once their talent is amplified. Everyone has a pretty good camera on their smartphones that amplifies the ability to take good pictures but not all of us will be able to take award-winning-gasp-inducing pictures. Same will be the case in organizations. Hold on to those super talented employees who are about to become superheroes…
Since the knowledge will be computed, captured, stored and freely available to all within the organization, and the talented employees will be able to use this to better serve customers, value to the organization for employees will come in the form of
- will have to come from deeper understanding of customers,
- the ability to harness all the resources to achieve the desired outcome for the customer and
- added intuition about the best way to deliver customer results.
It’s pretty ironic; in a world where intelligence is artificial/amplified the value of an employee within an organization or as a product/service provider will depend on how much more human and much more intuitive your employees are than competitors. Especially since we’ll all have similar levels of amplification from RPA.