Chris Huff from Kofax muses about what the enterprise and workforce of tomorrow look like in an increasingly connected world and how work will be performed.

In the early stages of their digital transformations, organisations are beginning to leverage automation technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) to replace routine and repetitive tasks. The value proposition inherent in technologies like RPA is extended when organisations take a platform-based approach to automation, which means integrating complementary capabilities to realise greater gains in efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction as driven by automation.

The Untapped Opportunity of Automation

The beginning of any transformation exercise is in defining operations/processes that warrant transformation. Over the last several decades, organisations have resultantly fine-tuned their processes to make them more efficient.

Yet, on its own, optimisation will not be enough for tomorrow’s workforce. That is because most processes today – even optimised ones – remain largely document-driven and manual. To be more agile and compete more effectively in fast-paced environments, organisations will have to close the gap between manual and automated work.

As it stands currently, that gap is significant.  A recent Forbes Insights survey found that while 60 per cent of C-suite executives say they want their processes to be automated or mostly automated, only 38 per cent have achieved that benchmark.

These findings indicate there is a significant – and so far untapped – opportunity to realise gains in productivity, efficiency and quality. This is where adopting a platform-based approach to automation can particularly support a digital transformation initiative. Looking at automation technologies separately can result in problems, such as individual technologies being pushed beyond their respective capabilities. A platform-based approach to automation means leveraging smart capabilities that work together to digitise end-to-end business areas and operations.

According to the Forbes Insights survey, more than three-quarters of respondents said 60 per cent of their processes could be automated. In addition, almost one in five said 80 per cent of their process work could be automated.

The ideal mix of automation and manual work

The goal of this next phase of automation is to integrate automation and people, thus creating a more agile digital workforce that can ‘work like tomorrow’ today.

Even though processes are optimised, they require humans to manually complete the steps. As a result, employees find themselves stuck in roles as data gatherers. To deliver higher value to the business, employees instead need to become data users.

With intelligent automation, companies shift this dynamic. Bundling capabilities such as cognitive capture, process orchestration, robotic process automation, mobile and advanced analytics, this next-generation technology not only automates steps in a process, but also improves upon them.

The smarter software is, the more it can be used for complex tasks and decision-making. With machine-learning, intelligent automation moves beyond simple capture. It can ingest and make sense of large quantities of unstructured text such as emails, images and even voice calls. And since it can identify sentiment and tone and learning from past interactions, it can be taught to make decisions. Employees have less of a need to intervene, leaving them free to focus on work that delivers strategic benefits, such as higher customer satisfaction and stronger profit margins. In this environment, robots and humans work together as collaborators.

“We shouldn’t call them [cognitive AI agents] robots. We should call them co-bots—because what they are really doing is collaborating with humans. They cannot do anything without human input and participation,” says Max Cheprasov, chief automation officer at Dentsu Aegis.

Smart businesses do not need to wait for the future workforce.

This article was taken from our November magazine issue, which you can read here!