This is a guest blog by Susan Harper as a companion to the Voice America interview with Dale Meyerrose, PhD, Redefining the Workforce: When Robots Pay Union Dues and Learn Too
Many of us have seen the futuristic movies so popular in our culture for decades like Star Wars, Star Trek, even the time traveling series Back to the Future. In Back to the Future II, made in 1985, they predict what they believe the advances of technology will be in 30 years. That was 2015 and is now 4 years in our rearview mirror. Some advances we still haven’t managed, like the levitating car, but some we have so far outpaced that the movie producers never could have imagined the advances we have made in technology, such as the capabilities of the smart phone.
How do we harness that technology to reinvent our workforce and make our companies that much more efficient? RPAs, Robotic Process Automation, give leaders the opportunity to approach their work force and identify the tedious tasks and then work to remove those tasks from their human work force and automate it. This frees up the human work force to do the complex and meaningful work.
What does this look like? The challenge for leaders is to identify the highly cognitive and highly valued tasks that humans need to do and allowing technology to be used as a solution that can make up for gaps in the human workforce.
The benefits of implementing RPAs to complete work force tasks include:
- they can work 24×7—continually perform without taking a rest,
- they can be taught a myriad of tasks,
- they can always be on call,
- they work faster, longer, and make less errors than people on routine,
- repetitive tasks and every action can be fully audited.
While implementing the RPAs leaders need to be mindful of the human workforce who are fearful of these digital workers. Often human work force will believe that they’ll be replaced and lose their job, they are fearful of having to train and upskill in order to remain employable, they don’t understand how to leverage the bots and have a reluctance to learn.
How is this technology already being employed in our companies? One of the biggest sectors is in the financial industry. Credit card companies would never be able to use humans to process the millions of transactions that occur each day. The RPAs are trained to look for inconsistencies in the charges and flag them for things like location, amount, or unusual patterns.
Another large sector utilizing the RPA technology is the health care industry. They are being used in almost every aspect of the patient’s care. RPAs begin by assisting in scheduling appointments. They can assist in finding treatments once a doctor has made a diagnosis. They can ensure a schedule for a treatment plan is closely followed by setting up future appointments. They are involved in the claims and billing process. They can direct patient questions to the appropriate person. They can manage and forward patient records. This automation of tasks frees up the medical staff to do the tasks that require a human intervention.
The age of automation is here and how our companies use these technologies and innovate their businesses will determine the success of their businesses.
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.