The threat of computers becoming alternative employees and fulfilling human job roles is one that has intensified over recent years. However, the modern world is still a far cry away from the mass production and roll-out of IPSoft’s Amelia - a cognitive knowledge worker that can understand what people say and ask - and even interprets emotion when customers call and she answers the phone. However, as the strong consumer backlash against UK customer service call centres based in countries such as India continues, it is unlikely that speaking to an avatar over the phone will incite a positive reaction. As such, the days of robots entering the workforce and stealing human jobs is all hype and should not be taken too seriously.
Businesses automation, on the other hand, is certainly something that organisations should be embracing. Using computers to carry out and improve mundane processes frees up staff to spend more time on business critical issues along with ‘hearts and minds’ work. Take zero-touch request fulfilment for example, which is now being adopted by more IT departments to save time when staff request new applications or systems access. This isn’t a case of computers taking people’s jobs, but rather a virtualised automation process which makes busy IT departments more effective. In the past, it could take in excess of 20 days for businesses to go through all the steps (and waiting time) to manually agree and authorise one worker to use a new application; but by introducing business automation this process can be reduced to as little as 20 minutes.
Innovative IT - Innovative Business Services
Companies need to start looking at how IT can dramatically reduce costs and improve efficiency, particularly in regards to tooling-based service automation systems. IT departments have to get slick and fast at doing the basics – answering helpdesk calls, getting new starters set up and ensuring leavers don’t become security risks are all processes that can and should be automated.
But the role of champion and implementer of service automation is not simply the responsibility of the IT department. This service automation approach can dramatically benefit all internal service provider teams within a business, from HR, Health and Safety, Facilities Management, Finance, to Security or Engineering, in fact any team who is involved in providing services for employees of a company can benefit from automation. Yes IT may be the evangelist, but this needs to be on the company wide agenda. Think about all the touch points that you have, from booking parking spaces, organising guest Wi-Fi, through requests about your pension, of room bookings; imagine all these processes being automated, or better yet, choreographed into one single predictive, intelligent service?
At Velocity we always suggest to companies they have champions across all business functions responsible for finding and implementing opportunities to automate. We think most companies steer away from this because they assume implementing such processes is a high cost solution and because they don’t track the effectiveness of all their business teams’ processes, the true cost of inefficient manual processes is therefore hidden
Every service business today is digital in some way and any organisation that isn’t using its IT to become the best player in the market is severely missing a trick. There are many transformational CIOs out there, but the best ones are those that realise IT is the ultimate business differentiator. The transformational pace of change makes it impossible for any organisation to sit back and continue to offer the same service in exactly the same way it did ten years ago. Companies today have to be flexible if they are to keep up, and improving efficiency and productivity through automation is a good starting point. Any business that isn’t playing to be the best by using IT to deliver that is in the Darwinian times – you don’t need to be the largest company in order to adapt to change.
Take Uber for example, no one would have previously said the old taxi market - that’s as old as time - would be able to be digitalised. Then a small company like Uber comes along with a product and within only months the value of the company has shot up and has disrupted a hundreds of year old market worldwide, almost overnight. If it can happen to something as mundane as taxi’s, could your industry be next?
That’s the speed of entry you get with modern technology. Blockbusters, the video store, did not understand where the market was heading and missed an opportunity – a perfect example of why companies should be flexible. Innovate or die…
People shouldn’t fear losing their jobs to robots, but instead embrace the benefits that the right type of automation can bring to their daily activities and business.
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