Intelligent automation solutions such as, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) have rapidly moved from hype to reality and are working their way into mass market adoption. They are undeniably revolutionizing people; processes and the way organizations operate. While we don’t yet see the greater impact of intelligent automation on a market level, for those organizations that have started adoption, the effects have already begun to take shape.

The workforce implication of digital automation is discussed at length. Predictions range drastically spelling doom and gloom on one end of the spectrum and painting a picture of flowers and sunshine on the other end, where employees feel much happier in their now more fulfilling jobs. I believe the reality is a bit more nuanced with both the organization and its employees sharing responsibility in shaping the outcome. Let’s look at both perspectives.

THE COMPANY

Does this scenario sound familiar? You need to hire a number of data entry clerks to ensure you can keep up with the increased workload.  Hires of this kind still represent the majority of jobs in today’s economy. Hires that are task based.

With many of these tasks ripe and ready for automation, organizations find themselves in a position to now shift their hiring focus from people they have to hire towards people they want to hire.

What to do with the people you have today, those you hired to fill that task you are automating, becomes an important decision you should evaluate carefully. Simply firing the old and hiring new talent may not be the course that will lead to long term success. Here’s why:

  • As your organization adopts intelligent automation, your employees will require to change their roles and jobs more frequently. What people do and how people work together will change at an increased pace. As an organization you need to build expertise on how you govern a new way of working. Re-skilling the workforce is a critical skill of the future state.
  • Upskilling your existing workforce has side benefits too. It creates loyalty and appreciation while it retains an understanding of how the work used to be performed. This skill will come in handy during business continuity events.
  • Hiring talent with experience is not without its challenges. These resources are in high demand. Upskilling your existing workforce may in fact be a more economical choice.
  • The talent you will be looking to attract in the future will understand how quickly their role becomes obsolete. These candidates will be looking for an organization with a mindset that takes their employees on this journey with them, not discard them after the job ends. A key indicator will be to look at how your organization takes care of its existing employees.

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THE EMPLOYEE

It’s all good and well to outline the organization’s role in ensuring digital automation success, but the employee – yes, the employee! – equally bares some of the responsibility.

From the ground-level employee fearful of losing their job, to the executive afraid of losing control, all too often, we encounter resistance. Change is a scary concept for most people. Learning to embrace and accept change is a critical step. I know it sounds easy to say when it is not your job that is threatened, but how you react is important.

This is not to say that you should blindly follow with no questions or concerns. Of course not! Educating yourself on how automation will affect the company, your colleagues and specifically your day-to-day work life is part of the process.  It will allow you to learn how new technologies and ways of working will boost your career path and make you an indispensable member of the company and in the marketplace. Armed with the right information, resistance will fade into knowledge.

When it’s your job that is being automated, you will be best serviced by learning what job will be valuable and in demand tomorrow. Starting that journey early will give you more time to learn the skill you will need going forward. Try looking at your career as a continuous journey of new jobs that may become obsolete faster than before. By doing so, you will continuously have a portion of your time dedicated to the future skill set you need to advance your career. This not only makes you in constant high-demand, but it also allows you to continue to advance your career….and have more control over its path.

Automation is inevitable. Whether it’s Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence, new Cloud solutions or just some other market dynamic that is already on its way… it’s not necessarily the company with the deepest pockets that will thrive, but rather, the company where both the organization and its people harmoniously work together for the best outcome that gains the biggest returns.

Johnny Ramondino (johnny.ramondino@in-rgy.com)

President, IN-RGY, USA

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