Intelligent Automation through its innovative offering is transforming the workplace ecosystem and workforce as well.
Intelligent Automation takes regular process automation to a whole new level. Instead of merely carrying out predefined steps and processes, automation powered by artificial intelligence is capable of evolving and improving on its own over time. As tasks and workflows are performed, the data obtained during the process is then used to automatically improve how they are performed in the future. Intelligent automation can also help identify and optimize best practices, enabling business leaders to make more data-driven and therefore accurate decisions.
But if the technology is capable of being “smart” and intuitive, does that mean it will eliminate the need for human workers? Does this spell the end for the human workforce altogether? Not necessarily. On the contrary, the purpose of intelligent automation in the workplace is to change the way businesses operate by augmenting and complementing human capabilities. In other words, Automation powered by AI is meant to make the lives of human employees easier, allowing them to perform their jobs more effectively.
Preparing the workforce
AI increases the productive capacity of the human workforce. According to a Deloitte report, over 90 percent of organizations expect it to increase their workforce capacity. On average they expect a 26 percent increase in back-office capacity over the next three years and a 17 percent increase in capacity in their core business operations. Despite the opportunity presented by intelligent automation to increase productivity, 44 percent of organizations have not yet calculated how their workforce’s roles and tasks, and the way tasks are performed, will change.
Moreover, almost two-thirds of organizations have not considered what proportion of their workforce needs to retrain as a result of automation. Even organizations that have automated at scale (51+ automation) are not yet thinking about this, with 53 percent stating that they have not yet explored whether their workforce needs to reskill as a result of their automation strategy.
Reskilling based on how the human workforce will interact with machines, including changes to role definitions, should be baked into organizations’ plans for intelligent automation adoption to leverage the expected capacity enhancement. But 38 percent of organizations are not yet retraining employees whose roles have changed.
The new possibilities created by intelligent automation mean work should be redefined by:
• the outputs and problems the workforce solves, not the activities and tasks executed
• the teams and relationships people engage and motivate, not the subordinates they supervise
• the tools and technologies that both automate work and augment the workforce to increase productivity and enhance value to customers
• the integration of development, learning, and new experiences into the day-to-day (often real-time) flow of work.
The talent needed to automate is hard to find: fifty-nine percent of those piloting automation believe they lack the workforce capacity and skills required.
Demographic trends are shrinking the pool of available talent. By 2028 there will be up to 8 million fewer workers in Europe than today.
But in recent years, the relationship between workers and many organizations has changed, allowing for full-time, part-time, contract, freelance, and gig employment. Organizations should better utilize the ‘alternative workforce’ which offers short-term access to highly skilled workers during the implementation and scaling of automation.
A supportive workforce
There is a widespread perception that automation may eliminate jobs. But 74 percent of survey respondents believe their workforce is either supportive or highly supportive of their intelligent automation strategy. The perceived level of stakeholder support tends to grow significantly as organizations move further along their automation journey. Thirty-two percent of executives whose organizations are piloting said their workforce is unsupportive, compared to just 12 percent in organizations that are implementing or scaling.