Marc Andreessen's famous statement in 2011 that "software is eating the world" takes on even greater significance with the arrival of software robots and robotic process automation (RPA). If software was considered to be the great disruptor five years ago, there is little doubt by extension that automation is going to take the world – and our businesses – by storm. Fast forward five more years into our future and, according to the IDC, most repeatable, rules-based knowledge work will be handled by software robots while humans focus on the exceptions.
So what exactly did Andreessen mean when he said that software is eating the world? At the time, he was explaining the cause behind the shift from a hardware-based to a software-based economy. He highlighted that the reason was not due a "tech bubble" fuelled by extravagant financial valuations, but rather part of a broader economical and technological shift propelled by software companies who were taking over large facets of the traditional economy and delivering most of the value. As a result, existing industry players would become redundant aka "get eaten." The warning bell rang loud and clear: Companies that get this and adapt will rise (i.e., Amazon, Netflix, Uber); those that don't will fail (i.e., Barnes and Noble, Blockbuster).
If you apply the same concept to automation, specifically robotic process automation, those who currently have the most to fear (aka get eaten by a robot) are people chugging away at mundane tasks that can easily be automated, but don't adapt and transform their business with technology. Even the White House is sitting up and paying attention. They published a report that estimated 83% of US low wage jobs will be automated - representing 66 million jobs and potentially affecting 62% of American workers. For offshore labor the picture is even grimmer. The way work is being done is changing. So what should we do to prepare the future workforce?
For starters, let's curb the outcry that robots are taking over our jobs and stop selling ourselves short. During the 1920's, artists from the music industry were outraged that music was being played on "robotic players" (record players). They staged protests and engaged the public to protest the technology shift. We all know how that turned out, today music is available from your choice of robotic players and musicians still have jobs. We should embrace the technology of automation as not only a digital revolution, but also an intellectual revolution where we allow robots to take over repetitive, boring tasks and move forward to more challenging roles that involve problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity that will deliver more value to our work and even enrich our lives.
Let's also consider the scenario where automation is helping people do their jobs better (so they can keep them!). For example, some robotic process automation technologies, such as Leo RPA allow you to create desktop automation scenarios that automate tasks for human users. Once rules-based tasks are offloaded to your virtual workforce, you can leverage the same platform to deliver end-user performance support that helps people navigate business applications and accomplish any task, quickly and error free by using with application guidance and task automation. This dramatically cuts time to proficiency for anyone operating new applications or software release, reduces errors, increases productivity and improves job satisfaction.
For outsourcers, the picture also isn't as forbidding as the initial reactions to RPA seemed to indicate. In their report titled "Insights from Early BPO Adopters of Robotic Process Automation," HfS explored the reasons behind 16 major enterprise clients' decision to accept the implementation of an RPA solution from their BPO service provider. According to the report, early BPO adopters of RPA reported remarkable outcomes, including: dramatic process improvements, cost savings, redeployment of resources to higher value functions, improved productivity, quality and customer service.
In conclusion, automation technologies such as robotic process automation can help organizations transform into higher performing and more efficient businesses. It can also empower the workforce to be more efficient and set new standards of performance. For companies that can understand the value of Marc Andreessen's vision of the future and adapt, they will be the companies that succeed. Do nothing, and risk being on the list of companies who did nothing wrong, but still failed.
Kryon Systems is committed to assisting organizations realize their key performance indicators (KPI) by providing performance improvement solutions which support both the end-user and IT automation efforts alike. To this end, we offer a comprehensive solution to the business user in the form of Leo Performance Support as well as a cost-effective answer to efficient process execution with Leo Robotic Process Automation (RPA).