I know, the image of Bots working in the office with you is a little terrifying. But like the internet, and the smart phone, the idea is going to stick. So how do you integrate the new bots into your work life (and maybe even invite them to lunch!).
First of all there are a couple of megatrends converging in the Digital Transformation space. Examples are Phil Fersht and Horses for Sources concept of “OneOffice” where, unlike traditional front, middle and back office operations businesses are run in a singular and frictionless manner, enabled by technology – that technology being, for example, Automation Anywhere concept of a Digital Worker. So while in the past “bots” did tasks, more and more delivering real and sustained value requires bots morph into digital workers that instead of doing a task does a job.
Crickey, I think I just made you feel worse. Bear with me a little longer. The good news is you can take advantage of this convergence. As your organization begins to adopt OneOffice thinking (and you can probably think of examples where different parts of your organization are more tightly linked then ever before) and you will need to therefore redesign how the work gets done, don’t entrench the past – leverage the future.
Normally, organization design goes something like this. There is a business process to execute, which consists of tasks and sub-tasks. Those tasks are aligned to skills. Jobs are structured based on logical groupings of skills, and then a job is assigned the corresponding tasks. In the first wave of RPA implementations, the focus was on applying bots to tasks. And while that is a good place to start in redesigning the business, thinking about linking Digital Workers to skills. For example, a lot of data manipulation skills can be “learned” by a Digital Worker, so align the work along those skills. Structured correctly, you will have Digital Workers that can be applied to multiple business processes across multiple organizations.
Once the Digital Workers have their roles, what is left for you and your human colleagues? Typically, it is the higher value work, that is more fun and meaningful to do (and creates more value for the business so should enhance your career as well).
Of course, to pull this off requires a lot of change management. People will resist change so a couple of basics to make sure you do: (a) understand your stakeholder groups, different groups will have different needs; (b) state the case for change, including the future vision (Hollywood has made too much money on the negative side of robots so whether you like it or not you are going to have to work against that); and (c) as you communicate, make sure to have a feedback loop to make sure the messaging is resonating, and measure the attitudes to ensure that the change is taking hold.
Big challenge, but a big opportunity. Take it a slice at a time and you’ll be on your way. And when people start naming the Digital Workers (and you’ll see, they will!) only a matter of time before they are joining you for lunch. Bon appetit.