The year ahead – a look at business automation

By Simon Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, Redwood Software

A shift to talk about process rather than people

As the conversation around robotics and automation becomes more sophisticated, we expect to see a shift in focus from talking about how people can be replaced, to how processes can be re-imagined and improved. The personification that we have allowed to develop around robots is one of the key barriers to their adoption in an enterprise context. The technology will of course change labour market dynamics, but it won’t be because ‘Robot A’ is replacing ‘Human A’.

“Your mess for less” model no longer stands up to scrutiny

We are already seeing a shift in business case dynamics with regard to outsourcing. We anticipate the rise of ‘Cybershoring’TM in 2017, with businesses focusing on how the work is done rather than where. Back-office tasks which have typically been outsourced are ripe for automation, due to the wealth of manual activity and updates that don’t require thought, judgement, or cognition.

Businesses realise that most automation is not about intelligence, but ‘automated stupidity’ 

AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are often bundled into the same sentence, without enough practical proof of their connection or even applicability. The truth is that most of the automation we see today is not yet about intelligence, but ‘automated stupidity’. Why is this exciting? Because it brings the opportunity to automate dull, repetitive, rules-based work, freeing employees up to focus on value-add, strategic tasks.

Digital Desire

Automation is generally associated with cost savings, but as soon as the link is made regarding the potential it brings for shifting into an integrated, digital ecosystem, the sooner businesses will sit up and take notice. Cost savings are a nice to have – competitive advantage, agility and the ability to deliver streamlined services in line with consumer expectation, are not.

Internet of Things – more connectivity, more potential to automate

Businesses are operating in an omni-channel world, with increasingly connected global supply chains. Add in near total connectivity, and the associated explosion of data, and the productivity savings and insight that can be gained through automation become really compelling. The only way to maintain brand reputation, minimise risks and retain a competitive edge is by eliminating the infrastructure-related process bottlenecks and error-prone manual effort.

Consolidation of terminology

As is often the case in a high-growth industry, we have seen the emergence of a whole dictionary of terms around robotics, as competing service providers seek to cement their ownership of nuanced niches within a niche. This may well have fuelled scepticism amongst business leaders, who are unsure which ‘version of the truth’ can truly deliver value for them. The industry will need to simplify the way it talks about the technology in 2017, to create clear categories that can be understood. Failure to do so means companies may be baffled into boredom – and inertia.

Robotics will make it onto ‘today’s to do list’

The business case for automating dull, repetitive tasks is too big to ignore. Workplace automation will doubtless be one of the biggest trends of 2017, as businesses seek to increase value by strategically streamlining core operations. Fewer wasted man hours, fewer errors, and greater data-led insight will unlock new efficiencies and growth potential for all those that are ready to embrace the technology at hand.


Categories:   Automation   Robotics   Business Process   Robotic Process Automation  
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