Technology experts and economists are engaged in a growing debate about the effect of automation technologies in the workplace. Some RPA pessimists are concerned about the mass elimination of jobs, while futuristic optimists see considerable productivity gains for the economy that will in turn help create new work opportunities and happier, more creative work environment for employees. Both the physical automation and the one involving back-end IT processes will have an enormous impact over most of businesses in different industries. Below we’re highlighting eight changes you should expect to see over the next couple of years as a result of automation.
1. Customer service improvement
A British online supermarket, Ocado is one of the best examples of how customers can benefit from a business adopting automation. To a large extent, they are only able to fulfil their promise of the faster delivery times that you and I have come to expect because so many of their processes are automated. Better yet, think of Amazon and their Prime.
Automation can be an invaluable tool for cutting down on errors, facilitating better logistics plan, faster deliveries, and for speeding up processes such as restocking. All of these contribute to a company’s ability to improve service and deliver exactly what their customers want.
2. Increased productivity
To visualise the scale of disruption robots have already caused to productivity, think about the introduction of robots to a car production line. VW has gone from around 4,000 people working in this environment to nearer 150, whilst at the same time increasing overall employee numbers from 30,000 to 70,000 across the business. It’s a similar story for other automotive producers. For the UK as a whole, automation can boost productivity by between 2x and 10x of its current level.
Improved productivity is good news, as businesses will get more bang for their buck. When you become more productive, you create more demand, and therefore more jobs. More jobs could also mean a higher skill level of employee.
3. Lower employees churn
We strongly disagree that people will be replaced by automation. Yes, people will be redistributed, but this will be one of the most important benefits automation brings. Wherever there exists a dirty, dull and sometimes, dangerous job with humans exposed to risk, there exists the perfect opportunity for automation. Automation of repetitive processes allows your employees to become happier, safer and more creative and as a result – lower your employment churn rate. Workers’ quality of life could be drastically improved as well as allowing them to move into a more highly skilled roles, including operating the robot.
4. Workspace transformation
Robots require much less space than people (and it’s not against the law :). As there is more and more RPA implemented across businesses of all sector, work spaces naturally undergo transformation too. Since robots can be built floor-to-ceiling, and occupy much less hospitable environments than humans can; an unmanned rig in the middle of an ocean, for example, such savings allow the profits to be redistributed to Innovation R&D for e.g. Linking automation and data together allows to codify a process which can be implemented anywhere in the world, in smaller, more flexible and collaborative workspaces. This is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where the process is delivered remotely, but controlled centrally.
5. Better traceability in supply chains
New technologies are presenting promising opportunities for improvement across the supply chain. Using automation, blockchain and other emerging tech such as IoT in the supply chain has the potential to improve supply chain transparency and traceability as well as reduce administrative costs. Companies like Everledger, Tracemarq or Provenance are applying data and blockchain helping parties along the supply chain to achieve higher traceability, efficiency and transparency.
The way companies manage their supply chains will evolve. From a logistical point of view, automation could mean that fleets are autonomous in the near future, which will cause a huge shift in distribution and lead times. Already now it doesn’t take much effort to imagine vehicles which can be on the road 24/7. In order to achieve maximum efficiency, businesses will need to contemplate how automated factories and warehouses will physically interact with their supply chains – they will require seamless integration from the start of the chain right to the end.
6. Business competitiveness will improve
Highly developed countries as the UK or Germany can’t compete with low-cost economies on price point using traditional labour intensive technologies. We have to do it through productivity. Automation is one of the most effective ways of increasing productivity as a nation. It can start at micro and small level. Individual businesses play a vital role in increasing overall productivity and competitiveness by exploring opportunities for automation.
7. Internal attitudes shift
There is a big difference between buying from a company who uses robots, and working alongside one. The fear that workers will be replaced by robots is a sensitive subject, and should be handled tactfully. For automation to be embraced internally, company leaders need to help workers understand how it benefits them. Businesses should also review their goals from an ethical standpoint before deciding to automate. The more common it becomes, the more automation will be accepted by consumers and employees alike.
8. It security concerns
Having fully-automated factories, vehicles, or robots which link to an entire IT system can raise significant security challenges for businesses. Think of a self-driving car being hacked to gain access – it could have potentially catastrophic consequences for any business and its customers.
In order for businesses to adapt to future and achieve a full potential automation presents, it’s crucial that IT systems and defences are robust to withstand malicious attacks.
At Untrite, we provide smart RPA solutions for high growth companies. We are very excited about the new projects we are taking on helping our clients’ employees focus on productivity — not processing. Follow our next steps by subscribing to our newsletter or get in touch by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.