Organizations have been looking for ways to improve their efficiencies, reduce errors, and increase data security and privacy using robotic process automation (RPA). This technology has been implemented across thousands of organizations globally since it emerged over ten years ago. However, while the promise of huge gains in efficiencies has been proven, documented, and reported by many sources, some organizations are not seeing the same results. In this series of articles, the goal is to understand the primary reasons why some are realizing these results but others are only achieving marginal returns on their investments. To harness the power of the RPA platform, it’s important to consider the human element, the infrastructure, the roadmap of where you ultimately want to go, and the definition of success as the program progresses.
Reorganizing the Enterprise
The needs of organizations change over time, and sometimes that requires a “reorganization.” Typically, that means that employees from one area of the firm are shuffled between management structures or business units to achieve a new balance of productivity, focus, cost alignment, or collaboration. These employee shifts can be traumatic, especially if the reorganization is due to a merger with another firm. Similar jobs are combined among the companies and people with the same roles are often let go to eliminate redundancies. But reorganizations can be healthy for the organization as well as for the employees if the alignment engages the skills of those employees.
However, not all employees need to be human. Many organizations are finding that they can train new digital workers to support some of the manual processes that have evolved over time within the organization. Within most organizations is a legacy of systems that requires “IT archaeologists” to stitch solutions together over time using software and people to enable the business to function. These legacy systems contain the lifeblood of the organization’s data. So rather than having people move data between legacy systems, digital workers can do the job much more quickly and efficiently. But is that all that these new digital workers can do?
Understanding Human Associates vs. Digital Associates
Humans and digital workers have some similarities but also some significant differences. Both are capable of managing transactional work flow within an organization, but only one has creativity, intuition, and the ability to express innovation. So why aren’t more companies leveraging the strengths of their employees more effectively? Perhaps they need to reorganize to take advantage of their associates’ strengths. Digital workers are becoming more capable of relating with humans through audio and visual means. Digital workers can understand language and interact. But even with these capabilities, they need humans around them to think, strategize, empathize, design, and create.
By reorganizing, companies align their work with the right type of employee, answering the question, “Should a human do this work, or should a digital worker do it?” This perspective takes a broad look at the overall processes as well as the sub-processes and tasks. By looking at an organization in this way, there may be epiphanies about the actual flow and assignment of work. This is not an overnight type of exercise but one that requires planning to achieve the most competitive impact for the organization and the greatest fulfillment for human employees that get the benefit of assuming the roles that are most uniquely human.