As part of techUK's AI Week, Alastair Bathgate, Group CEO at Blue Prism has provided a blog on 'Friend not Foe: Robotic workforces could boost – not break – our working world'
Pressure is mounting on us, wherever we work to outperform peers, fend off threats from new challengers and remain competitive. That’s modern life – but each of us is only human. We can’t do everything at once. Some things we just don’t want to do, maybe even ought not to do. In any event, every now and then something’s got to give.
In the past 20 years, Business Process Outsourcing cast itself as the saviour of productivity – sometimes even of corporate sanity. Companies large and small took a long hard look at themselves, at the places where they added value (and where they leaked it) and looked to outside talent to work harder, smarter, faster.
Today, that outside talent alone isn’t enough. The future of work is changing at a faster pace than any of us have ever known. Virtually every company on earth is now looking at ‘what’s next’ – and increasingly that’s software robots.
Robots attract a great deal of emotion. We imagine sci-fi figures from TV and film. We fear replacement, not emancipation, from machines much better at work than we are. But, just like the fears that accompanied BPO in its infancy, the truth and potential around software robotics is far more exciting than this imagery allows.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the game-changer. We’ve all seen industrial robots make waves in manufacturing, deliver efficiency in supply chains and improve product quality. We are now seeing software robots do the same elsewhere.
Software robots put process where process belongs, inside smart systems. They free each of us up to apply our human brains to tasks far more valuable. Let’s face it: traditional IT systems can often creak under the simplest of pressures. There are gaps, flaws, missing links – and all too often human intervention isn’t the best way to mitigate for those failings.
Smart software robots are far better suited to the task. Rather than have employees stretch time and resource to marginally improve an already broken system, what if you could simply add extra robotic capacity to do all that for you? Robots that feed on process, scalability and compliance.
But that’s just the beginning. Imagine a robotic ecosystem where users can leverage best-of-breed solutions for AI, cognitive and cloud technology. Consider the benefits to an a la carte menu of services and capabilities that would let you free up the creativity of people to do more valuable tasks: seek out that new market, revitalize sales, spot new opportunity and double output with virtually zero cost.
Doesn’t this sound like good news for business, not bad? Couldn’t it be good news for productivity, for people and for process? We think so. Increasingly the biggest players in business think so too. Perhaps it’s time we put sci-fi to one side and gave robotics a fresh look...?
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