There is new evidence of growing trust in automation and RPA – particularly among business leaders and knowledge workers.
In fact, Blue Prism’s Impact of a Digital Workforce on Business Agility & Survival global study in 2020 found that 90% of South African business leaders planned to extend the use of automation across their organisations, and that most knowledge workers support this.
81% of business leaders believed their employees would trust working alongside a digital workforce, while 78% of knowledge workers said automation would make their organisations more innovative, 86% believe that using technology to automate tasks would improve their work life, 70% were excited at the opportunities automation would create, and 87% were comfortable reskilling for a change in work role.
However, not all employees are equally excited about the potential for RPA and automation to improve their work lives. For the uninformed, the initial reaction is commonly a negative one. At first impression, many people believe jobs will be lost.
The reality is that automation makes business more efficient, cost effective and innovative, resulting in business growth and the creation of many more jobs within the economy.
Take Amazon as an example: by completely automating the retail buying process, the new model made shopping cheaper, faster and more convenient. This did put some companies with older, slower business models out of business. Catalogue retail stores are one type of business that became redundant. But as Amazon’s business boomed, it built thousands of warehouses to cater for the stock, providing work for architects, builders, plumbers and warehouse staff. They also bought thousands of delivery vehicles, created work for scores of people in the logistics chain, and increased market reach and business opportunities for manufacturers, small businesses and other companies in their supply chains.
We cannot stop natural evolution as technology develops. If we work with it and don’t fight to keep things the same as they have always been, there will always be the potential to improve opportunities for everyone.
In the workplace, employees at all levels are learning that RPA makes their daily life easier and more enjoyable. Once change has been managed and RPA successfully implemented, human resistance to working with robots falls away. Many dull and boring tasks and entire jobs, such as data entry, are disappearing as robots take over, doing the work faster, 100% accurately and 24/7. With the repetitive tasks taken care of, and business outputs improved, humans are able to focus on tasks that require human traits such as empathy, sensing, perceptions and emotions.
Automation opportunities exist in all sectors – from finance and manufacturing, through to health and the service sector. In the same way as the manufacturing and automotive industries were transformed by physical robots in the last century, all sectors will be transformed by software robots in this century. And in the future, digital workers and human workers will work together side by side to create much more efficient and productive business operations, and better, more affordable goods and services for consumers.
By Greg Newton, Country Manager – South Africa at Blue Prism.