One of the greatest concerns about Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is will bots take over human workers’ jobs and leave humans without work? While at first, this might seem like a genuine fear, this reality is far from the truth. The fact is RPA was designed to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate routine tasks that used to consume an employee’s time. While it helps free up a human workers’ daily work schedule, it won’t replace it, but enhance it. This just means your employees can focus on innovation and growth.
Asking the right questions
Many industries, especially their financial components, are investing in RPA to improve their business process and streamline their operations. Due to the increased investment in RPA, however, employees are worried that RPA may leave them unemployed. However, according to a Harvard Business Review article, “The right question isn’t which jobs are going to be replaced with RPA, but rather, what work will be redefined, and how?”
Automation has brought numerous benefits to the workforce such as:
- Higher production rates
- Better GDP growth
- Improved performance
- Increased productivity
- More efficient use of materials
- Better product quality
- Improved safety
- Shorter workweeks for labour
- Reduced factory lead times
RPA involves the production of automation with the use of the software. RPA automates high volume, low complexity, routine administrative tasks to help reduce costs and increase accuracy. For example, RPA can track the status of a delivery and help identify customer purchase information in your finance department. This technology can even replace an entire call center unit because RPA can get a customer from the beginning to the end of their purchasing process. However, for now, there will still be a need for jobs that involve representatives that help talk through a customer’s frustrations and pain points. That type of more complex conversation, for now, will remain a human’s job.
RPA enhances jobs, not eliminate them
Jobs that are easily done by humans using machines and are highly repetitive will likely be replaced by RPA and other forms of automation. This could include finance roles, administration roles, and anyone in a customer-facing job. However there is good news; The Washington Post stated “according to The World Economic Forum, they have forecasted that automation by 2025 will lead to a gain of 12 million jobs.” While this statistic also includes mechanical automation, the bottom line is that automation and the human workforce go hand-in-hand.
While some tasks and roles will be replaced, RPA will create other types of work as the bots help to streamline redundant processes. For example, someone or a team will have to oversee, monitor, and manage the bots. This means that employees will be valuable as programmers, automation specialists, data scientists, financial advisers, content curators and so much more.
Jobs that usually have a high turnover rate will likely be replaced by RPAs. Automating these types of jobs will allow employees to focus their attention on higher-value work tasks.
Jobs that RPA can not replace
The most complex tasks to automate are ones that involve managing and developing people. This includes expertise in decision-making, planning, and creative thinking, which are all characterized as knowledge work. Humans are still needed to determine goals, interpret results, and provide common sense checks for solutions. Below are jobs that RPA will not have the ability to perform.
Logically, any industry that involves numbers and data entry, is a perfect fit for automation. Anything that involves repetition or taking data from one place and putting it into another will most likely be automated. This, however, will mean that new skilled workers will have the opportunity to start at a higher level, or in a supporting role to the bots.
Many RPA pundits agree that while bots will eliminate some jobs, it will also create new ones, more likely even more than it took away. These new roles will involve programming, training, and managing the bots, then subjecting the data to any sophisticated high-level analysis and predictions. This is something AI can’t do.
Then, there’s the human element. There are some things that bots can’t do that require not only logical skills but also emotional intelligence. Financial planning, for example, is more than just financial management, it also requires an understanding of how the client feels about money, and what they’re comfortable with.
While finance is the obvious industry for RPA, others exist as well, such as in the healthcare industry. Outside of the fact that this industry relies heavily on financial tasks and data, RPA can not replace a healthcare professional whose daily tasks require physical proximity and dialogue with a patient. Robots can not understand the human mind, they can not express feelings or provide compassion.
Instead, RPA can enhance and streamline the endless flow of information, questions, and better triage patients, to allow doctors and nurses more time to interact with patients.
Another common place where RPA seems to be a logical fit in any industry is in management. In reality, bots can’t replace a manager who makes daily complex decisions about managing the business and its employees. A company’s human resource department will always need a human to manage conflicts. Humans have something robots lack; non-cognitive and reasoning skills as well as emotional and social intelligence.
The same goes for any sort of enterprise development or project-based task. A project manager is responsible for leading the project from beginning to end. They have to keep constant communication with their team about different stages of the project. There is no formula or exact patterns of schedules for project management, things are constantly changing. A robot can’t master this, because a robot needs to follow a formula, stick to routines, and patterns.
The future is RPA
To an extent RPA will be a significant asset to employment, because bots are continuously developing, learning, and adapting to their environment. However, it is important to remember that empathy, cognitive thinking, and emotional intelligence are traits that make the human race unique. So employment that requires those traits will always have some type of human interference.
Instead of fighting it, embrace that RPA is the future. With dedication and training, employees can pivot into a role that supports and manages the bot that is doing their old job. Still, automation is in the early stages for most industries, but that means that it will continue to grow and advance. RPA isn’t going anywhere, it is here to stay, it is up to you to decide how you can utilize RPA to push your company forward.
The role of RPA isn’t to replace your workforce. RPA will instead enhance employees’ jobs and the company as a whole. Ultimately, RPA is not meant to replace human workers but rather designed to make the working day easier and more productive for humans.
Looking for someone to point you in the right direction?
At K2, we’ve partnered with industry leaders Automation Anywhere to offer training and education in RPA for Finance via our K2 University. Our Automation 360 for Finance course provides courses to help you find the best way to integrate RPA into your business.
Learn how we can help you transform the financial processes of your business, and pave the way for the future of your workforce.