It is no secret that the UK suffers from a productivity problem. New studies are released every day exploring why our country is lagging behind other major economies in this respect. From low levels of investment to low levels of pay, there are many reasons attributed to the gap, however these issues only partially explain the problem. A factor that is often under-estimated relates to the happiness of the workforce, and the impact that freeing employees to work more creatively can have on productivity. As people in today’s society become ever more comfortable with moving jobs on a regular basis, businesses are going to have to find new ways of getting the best out of employees on a consistent basis – this is where automation and robotics has a big role to play.
Looking to the future
It should come as no surprise to hear that when organisations look to streamline operations, central to their vision is automating the majority of the administrative work that humans do. This has obvious advantages in terms of time and resource savings but businesses should also consider the effects of digital transformation on internal dynamics – for instance, the impact on employee wellbeing and productivity.
Employees within a business are the people at the very core of digital transformation, so they must be fully invested in the process in order to make it successful. This resonates with a recent Kronos study, which found a huge demand for automation from overworked staff who wanted to focus on the more interesting and impactful parts of their role. It is this element of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), allowing staff to perform more valuable tasks, that will be the real game-changer for a business.
Time to refocus
Implementing RPA within an organisation means employees no longer have to waste time and effort on repetitive tasks. The consequent redistribution of resources will give the people who drive the business a new lease of life.
For example, allowing people employed by insurance providers who would normally spend too much of their time dealing with claims processing, policy administration and pricing, to focus on adding value. RPA can lift the burden of these time consuming, high volume tasks and, according to Accenture, free up 25-30 per cent of employee capacity. This means that staff can focus on relationship building, gaining a better understanding of what their customers are looking for and suggesting new services or problem solving techniques to sustain and grow client relationships.
It is crucial for businesses to remember that once the robots have gathered and processed the data, the job is not complete; it’s what happens to the data that has been collected that really matters to a business. Given the extra time at their disposal, employees can now analyse the information that has been gathered and use this insight to improve business operations. Look at financial services for example, many of the traditional organisations in the sector are under huge pressure from smaller fintech start-ups to invest in innovation, in order to stay competitive. Once this investment has been made however, utilising the data available to focus on strategic and creative work such as competitive analysis and digital service innovation will be an essential part of remaining at the leading edge of the sector.
Shed the burden of ‘boring’
Quite simply, organisations have to give their employees the best chance to meet the demands of expectant customers. No employee wants to work in an environment where they are having to play catch up with consumers as they work under the constraints placed upon them by technical deficiencies. With RPA, robots are becoming increasingly autonomous, meaning they can act unattended allowing robots to scale deployments across an entire workforce and enable operations 24/7.
For example, RPA can bridge the gap between an ERP system and legacy technology within your business. This removes the administrative burden from humans manually transferring data between the two. All this is possible because in combination with AI, the robots are able to make decisions for themselves. As a result, robots can work alongside people, instead of being a drain on resources themselves – a welcome weight off the mind of a busy professional.
In the modern workplace, administrative processes place huge demands on the time your workforce has available – and this sort of time pressure is not conducive to creativity. People rarely relish the prospect of repeating a dull sequence over and over again without the opportunity to make a more sophisticated contribution. But of course, the problem with these monotonous processes from a business perspective is that they do need to be completed. The solution? Hire robots to work with your team and put people back in control of business.
Guy Kirkwood is the COO and chief evangelist at UiPath.