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How business leaders can create a robot ready workforce

Tapping into tech - how business leaders can create a robot ready workforce
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the role of technology for businesses across all industries accelerating their digital transformation by many months or even years. Technologies from digital payments to robotics have quickly become part of our daily lives, helping society be more resilient in a crisis. In particular, the ability to work remotely has allowed businesses to innovate and embrace flexibility in order to stay afloat.

While working from the comfort of your home and no longer commuting may be all well and good, employers and employees have still faced struggles. Almost three-quarters of employees have faced challenges and extreme pressure at work, with the biggest challenges being collaborating with colleagues remotely, finding the motivation to work, and working productively.

Since the onset of the pandemic, employees have not only had to juggle adapting to remote working, but are also burdened with lengthy processes and routine tasks – it’s no surprise that frustrations are high. Gartner found that two-thirds of employees are trying to cut corners by "hacking” their way around processes which is only wasting businesses time, money and energy. This is a risk businesses can no longer afford to take.

The onus is on business leaders to support their workers investing in the tools that work for the business and ease the burdens. So, how can businesses ensure they have the right tools to succeed?

Battling process problems

With a quarter of workers admitting that frustrating processes at work made them want to quit their jobs, even in a struggling job market, we need a solution. But what challenges are employees grappling with?

As staff work round the clock to fuel the success of businesses, dependable processes are essential. Yet, manual, paper-based, and overly complex processes such as banking customer onboarding, insurance claims, or retail returns, have been hit hardest by the pandemic. These critical operational processes were hampered by the move from offices into homes, leading to frustrating delays for both customers and staff. It is understandable, therefore that UK employees want their business to simplify its processes. Since two-thirds of businesses did adopt new technologies this year, this begs the question: why are workers not making the most of the technologies their employer does provides?

The dawn of digital workers

First, business leaders need to ensure they have deployed the right technology mix that will help employees thrive. Merely getting the technology in place is not enough. One such example is digital workers. This intelligent technology can now optimize something we’ve never been able to before: the bandwidth of employees. This is without a doubt critical to the business, as staff adjust to working from home, battling productivity challenges as well as home-schooling, caregiving, and the overall impact of the pandemic. By integrating these intelligent tools into the workforce, businesses can empower their staff to do more. They can automate mundane and routine tasks at top speed while giving their human colleagues more time to take on problem-solving and time-consuming tasks.

Our research found that those who already use robots and digital workers say they have been beneficial to their efficiency and collaboration, and of course, in lifting the burden of admin tasks. Employees said that this ‘robotic helping hand’ is most appreciated for sorting data and documents, providing prompts for pending tasks, and digitizing paperwork.

In this, it’s clear that some businesses do have the right tools to help their employees. Half of UK workers said processes helped them do their job faster and collaborate more effectively, both critical during the pandemic. However, for business leaders, the pressure is on to get automation right. It’s a major investment of time, money, and energy for everyone involved. Therefore, relying on human workers to assess processes won’t cut it, especially not when technology can get the job done for you.

Its time businesses hop on the automation bandwagon

Needless to say, ‘the way it has always worked’ is no longer an excuse for low productivity and employees not achieving their potential. Bad processes are costing a business time and money, not to mention adding pressure to an employee’s heavy workload. Leaders should be putting in the groundwork to ensure worker’s time is better spent on tasks that are more impactful to the business.

The onus is firmly on senior decision-makers. Not only are they using automation technology 20% more than junior staff – despite the biggest benefit of such technologies being routine tasks – but it’s also up to senior management to assess which intelligent automation tools will work best for their business. This will help ensure employees have what they need to make the most of them to save precious time on easily automatable tasks and reap rewards for the whole organization.

To do this, it's important new technologies are introduced at a moderate pace. There is no need to rush into digital transformation for the sake of it. Instead, business leaders need to fully understand how each technology can impact the entire business process workflow, or they risk frustrating employees and impacting their productivity – leading to “hacking” work, as Gartner warned.

Moving forward, its time business leaders tap into technologies like process intelligence and process mining to support their digital transformation journey. The inefficiencies of processes will be quickly identified and can be rectified head on. This will help leaders optimize the productivity of their staff to meet customer expectations, beat out the competition, and see their business thrive. Getting processes in check before automating them is the crucial step to avoid failure and see a solid return on investment.

It may be simple nowadays for businesses to embark on a digital transformation journey and deploy new technologies. The issue is that if the technology doesn’t compliment your staff, then it’s a wasted investment. It’s time for business leaders to take the lead, and embrace the future of business with a robotic helping hand.

  • Neil Murphy, Global VP at ABBYY.