By Dr Kumar Visvanathan, General Manager, People Shared Services, Mindtree
July 20 2019: Today, disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are penetrating industries at a rapid pace. This is changing the way organisations operate, with automation gaining greater prominence as companies increasingly realise the value it brings to the table. There are several benefits in incorporating automation, two of the major ones being cost-cutting and streamlining processes for better productivity. What companies need to do is realign their processes and focus on upgrading employee skill-sets to meet the new requirements.
With increasing technology interventions, employees’ roles are shifting from engaging in basic tasks to channelling their expertise into more challenging jobs. These basic tasks are now being automated with bots (including Chatbots and RPA bots) and advanced automation tools. Creating a collaborative ecosystem that builds on the respective strengths of the man-machine tag team will, thus, be the priority for future enterprises to reach optimal productivity.
With these changes in mind, organisations need to focus on strategically implementing automated processes across levels to suit their larger business objectives. For this, they may follow a three-pronged approach, which incorporates their daily operations, employee management and customer engagement.
Giving daily workplace activities an efficiency boost
A report by Transparency Market Research estimates that the industrial automation market will see significant growth in the next 5 years, reaching USD 353 billion by 2025. Enterprises globally have accepted that automation is the only way to achieve peak operational optimisation, and its proportion in the overall activity blueprint for businesses will only grow from here.
Development of a centralised system reinforces data-validity, giving managers the ability to make quicker, more informed, decisions. Automated tools can detect, and even predict, problems in processes, networks and machinery. They also have the ability to recommend solutions based on their learning from past data and experiences. This gives engineers real-time updates, and they can act on these issues immediately, leading to lower downtime and better safety. By delegating bots to carry out large-scale operational tasks, organisations can standardise end-results and minimise human-error in processes.
Streamlining employee management
Apart from the increased efficiency of processes, automation at the workplace is aimed at simplifying employee management and engagement within an organisation. In this direction, several companies have begun using technology such as AI-enabled bots to manage employee-related activities. The fact that automation is making inroads into a domain such as HR which has the element of empathy ingrained in it, underlines the potential for a peaceful, and thriving man-machine co-existence.
For example, talent acquisition invests huge amount of workhours for basic sanity checks like background checks, initial screening, processing documents and answering basic queries from candidates in the hiring process. With bots, such jobs are eliminated from human interference, and instead, the talent acquisition teams can focus more time in acquiring the right candidate. Similarly, bots can bring in better efficiencies in repeatable administrative tasks like managing leaves, employee transfers, running appraisal cycles and recording employee feedback.
Proactivity needed to use real-time insights for greater profitability
Organisations need to be proactive with changes within their systems to effectively tap into new and emerging technologies. Moreover, it is essential that these strategies are spearheaded by the leadership of organisations along with internal policy-making bodies. This will ensure that all stakeholders are familiar with the changes to come, and that these changes unfold in an organised manner across levels and functions.
Several enterprises today are making use of AI-enabled bots that incorporate machine learning and NLP to better understand customer needs and demands. Through human-like conversations carried out between the bots and customers, the bots are able to derive useful insights that companies can use for future decisions. Additionally, these bots are also able to make personalised recommendations and initiate follow-up conversations with customers, thus enhancing the overall customer experience leading to higher purchase and/or retention rates.
Ultimately, automation is helping organisations to achieve improved efficiency and quality of operations, products and services. Employees, however, remain the pillars of any organisation, with automation simply complementing, refining and taking the monotony out of what they do. It is helping to augment the capabilities of the workforce, by taking over most basic and repetitive tasks with greater reliability. In this way, employees have the opportunity to engage in more challenging tasks that add significant value, thus giving companies a competitive edge. This, in turn, helps employees reach optimal levels of workplace satisfaction and productivity, while ensuring better results and profitability for organisations in a dynamic business ecosphere.