Robots have received a lot of attention lately: from Eugene Goostman passing the Turing test, to the buzz around Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson’s Second Machine Age, to Google’s recent series of robotic company acquisitions, it seems as though everyone is talking about automation. And for good reason: the $5 billion robotics industry is expected to become a $20 billion market by 2020. This chatter about robots has left businesses worldwide questioning if and how they should incorporate automatons into their business strategies, and how a digital workforce could impact their efficiency.

The key to addressing these questions is to consider positions within the business that are rules-based. Robots of both the hardware and software varieties excel at administrative tasks, so they are well suited for clerical jobs.

Guest article by Alastair Bathgate

Robotic process automation (RPA) solutions, capable of working around the clock, drastically increase business efficiency. For instance, Telefonica, a leading mobile network provider, tasked its digital workforce with transferring SIM card data when consumers bought new phones. When done by humans, this process would take up to 24 hours. When done by RPA, however, consumers were able to use their new phones in a matter of minutes – significantly enhancing customer satisfaction.

RPA can also greatly improve the accuracy of key operations since they are impervious to human error. So long as they are “trained” correctly by staff, software robots can take on tasks not just quickly, but with 100 percent precision every single time.

Additionally, RPA enables significant cost savings by presenting a third option to onshoring or offshoring labor. With software robots, businesses don’t have to worry about paying mounting salaries or covering health or dental insurance (or any other employee perks). Moreover, RPA can serve as a more cost-effective approach than outsourcing. Whereas outsourcers typically save between 20 and 40 percent by shifting work to a developing market, they can reduce costs by as much as 70 percent by opting for software robots that don’t have to be paid at all.

While some have expressed concern that robots are taking over jobs, what many fail to realize is that the booming robotics industry is poised to open up myriad new positions. Historically, technology advancements have meant that certain careers become obsolete. Consider, for instance, automation’s impact on the farming industry. The rise of machines, capable of doing farm labor much more efficiently, meant that there was no longer a need for humans to carry out certain tasks in the field. However, machines created new work related to manufacturing and operations – far outweighing the number of jobs lost.

Time and time again, new industries and jobs arise from the onset of fresh technologies – balancing out jobs lost. Telefonica, for instance, has already developed a new operations team to manage RPA tasks. What’s more, the European Commission, in partnership with 180 companies and research organizations, expects to create 240,000 new jobs as a result of its €2.8 billion investment in the robotics industry.

By incorporating robots into the workplace, there will not only be an output of new jobs, but more importantly, an output of more fulfilling jobs. By taking on time-consuming and tedious tasks, software robots free up human workers to focus on more creative, strategic, and customer-facing roles – roles that are inherently better fits for people, who are, by nature, entrepreneurial and social. Our education system will require adjustments to ensure that people are equipped to take on these types of positions, but ultimately, this change will give way to a more satisfied workforce.

With a happier workforce, reduced employee spend, and improved accuracy and efficiency, implementing a digital workforce of software robots is a no-brainer. Companies that fail to incorporate robotics into their strategy will soon find that they will lose their competitive advantage. To remain on top, jump on the robotic revolution and watch your business take off.

For more on the benefits of automation, read the Aberdeen report Excellence in Order Management: The Benefits of Automation

Alastair Bathgate

Alastair Bathgate, CEO Blue Prism. Leveraging his unique experience working in both the enterprise software and banking industries, Alastair co-founded Blue Prism in 2001 with the goal of creating a solution that would enable enterprises to improve process efficiency, streamline business operations, and enhance customer service. Prior to Blue Prism, Alastair held management positions at Lynx Financial Systems and Bradford & Bingley. He holds an MBA from the University of Leeds and an MMS in Management Services from Manchester Polytechnic. 


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