Is the World Ready for Robotic Process Automation?
The world might not have flying cars or we don’t live in outer space, yet. But one thing for certain about the present and future, is that we will be sharing our workforce with robots – whether you are ready or not. The “future of work” depends on Robotics Process Automation (RPA) training to get our work done with ease, but what exactly is it?
RPA “is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems,” according to the Institute for Robotic Processing Automation & Artificial Intelligence (IRPAAI). The tool would come in handy for those who need to automate work of heavy volume, tasks that can be replicated with ease and minimal interference every single day. Automated work would save time, money, and productivity that could be used in other sectors.
According to Symphony, an RPA employee would be able to handle a human employee would, with “increased speed,” “greater compliance,” and better quality, thanks to “increased accuracy.”
How can employers and employees benefit?
For Employers, Robotic Process Automation does the following:
- It reduces costs in outsourcing and offshoring. Tasks handled through RPA will dramatically cut down on costs typically spent outside of the company. Employees will be able to learn and adapt to the work and strategies that would normally only be known on the outside, which benefits the company as a whole.
- Less time needed for training. New processes can be incorporated easier which robotic automation can digest and provide more accurate results.
- “Can operate 24/7.” Business hours are nonexistent with RPA, and work is responded to as needed.
- Higher productivity. RPA gets rid of the “tedious” tasks that can cause burnout when done day after day, leaving brainpower for more critical and creative work.
In an extensive piece in the April 2017 edition of Vanity Fair, Elon Musk laid out his many concerns regarding AI, including the strawberry picking scenario.
“Let’s say you create a self-improving AI to pick strawberries and it gets better and better at picking strawberries and picks more and more and it is self-improving, so all it really wants to do is pick strawberries. So then it would have all the world be strawberry fields. Strawberry fields forever.”
During an interview at the AeroAstro Centennial Symposium in 2014, Musk said:
“‘I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful. I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.'”
Other experts are stating this is not the actual case with RPA, and that it won’t replace jobs. New jobs will be created. Leslie Willcocks, professor of technology, work and globalisation at the London School of Economics, said to Tech World, “I don’t think it [automation] can be said to be in itself a job threat. In fact, it has sometimes increased jobs.
“People are jumping way ahead in saying there will be massive job losses,” he continued. “If used for efficiency, yes there will be some displacement of labour. But the fact is there have always been other jobs created. We haven’t ended up in a situation where there is high unemployment as a result of IT.”
Gajen Kandiah, executive vice president of business process services at Cognizant, said humans and machines will be working together, rather than separately. “Automation has its limits. There are some things that robots just cannot do like medical management, underwriting, case reviews, speak or comprehend colloquial slang, understand people’s emotions and think on their feet,” he said.
“Enhancing human skills is a more effective and sustainable way of working than trying to automate everything,” added Willcocks.