Intelligent Automation: For a more engaged workplace

10 October 2018 | AI, intelligent automation
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Intelligent Automation: For a more engaged workplace

It is understood by most that to get the best from employees requires engaging work. However, for many employees their days consist of tasks such as data entry or copying and pasting from one system to another. And, while these tasks may be business critical, it certainly doesn’t make for engaging work, or an engaged workforce. As a report by Gallup called “The State of the Global Workforce” showed, 85% of employees are not engaged, or actively disengaged, with one of their key reasons being due to manual or repetitive work. One report by Smartsheets also estimates 40% of employees spend more than quarter of their working week on manual repetitive tasks.

Employees are giving their employer the vast majority of their waking hours, but due to the nature of their work, they aren’t giving you their best ideas, and not their best effort. The thing is, people want to make a difference, they want to be heard, to share, contribute, collaborate and engage with their work. They want to find purpose in their work but acting like a processing machine certainly isn’t delivering the meaning they crave. It doesn’t have to be like that. Intelligent Automation (IA) can empower employees and give them time to work on strategic growth projects. To show how IA can transform the workforce, we’ll look at two things — firstly how it can automate tasks, and secondly how it can help reengage your employees to do more for your business.

How can Intelligent Automation automate manual tasks?

By combining a mix of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, with robotics and cloud computing, Intelligent Automation is poised to transform the day to day life of employees. Let’s look at some examples:  

Simple process flows

Within most office-based roles there will be a simple process that could follow a simple “yes”, or “no” workflow. These decision trees are easy to follow for a machine and they have the added bonus of not making mistakes. What’s more, these tasks can be completed instantaneously, giving time back to employees and only asking for oversight when there is an exception.

Data duplication

In an ideal world, all applications would be nicely linked up and we wouldn’t need to key data across multiple systems. Unfortunately, that’s not always the reality. And, while many organisations will use people as the glue between disparate systems — it doesn’t always turn out as planned. The easier solution is to use Intelligent Automation to carry out the data collection and entry, improving accuracy and speed.

Reporting with Data

Today, most of us have reports to compile of one type or another. We all require evidence, or data to make informed decisions and demonstrate how our work is progressing. But, these reports often take extensive amounts of time to perform and are challenging to provide consistently. Automating reporting and data collection gives consistency, as well as improved accuracy. It also, gives time back to employees’ and removes this manual task from their plate. 

Beyond manual intensive tasks

Thanks to the integration of Artificial Intelligence with Intelligent Automation, Virtual Workers are no longer confined to the simple manual tasks which other robotics solutions, such as RPA, address. New areas that can be addressed include, the understanding of unstructured data in emails, or augmentation of employees by providing intelligent decision making assistance, for example in a trading company or fraud investigation, where Virtual Workers can analyse data and give advice in seconds.

So, there are many places where IA can release people from the monotony of manual tasks and support the workforce to concentrate on the growth of the business — but what does this mean for your workforces work day? 

How could Intelligent Automation improve your employees’ workday?

Despite scare stories on the rapid rise of automation, the outlook for employees is a rosy one. What many people don’t realise is automation and AI in the workplace is about reducing the workload on people, giving them back time to concentrate on more engaging, strategic tasks.

The best way to show this is with a brief example of a job role. For example, if you’re a marketing manager, you will spend a lot of time on automatable tasks such as data management, reporting, or even data transferring. Let’s say you wake up tomorrow and all of these tasks have been automated — does this mean you are out of job?

Obviously not. There is so much more to the role that automation can’t do. Instead of performing the tasks previously mentioned, you will be building relationships, strategically planning, building out content, improving the engagement and satisfaction of your team. These are human tasks that truly engage. 

That’s just one example – across the board automation brings benefits to employees’ day to day life in numerous ways. But, while we haven’t got time to list them all here, I’m going to instead talk about three:

More time to be creative

In any role, it is vital to think creatively — for both employees and the business. There is a strong connection between success, engagement and creativity. Although, for any person to be creative requires time to think, throw ideas around and input their energy. With demands of vital but non-creative tasks becoming increasingly burdensome on staff, it is understandable that they feel diverted away from the opportunity to truly give their best work.

Development time

Naturally, people crave information and want to learn, so that they can develop in their roles and gain success in and for the organisation. Of course, the more time staff have to develop their skills in a role the higher likelihood they will find the purpose they crave. Finding the time to take courses and develop is always a struggle in any organisation. By implementing Intelligent Automation, staff could have up to a quarter of their week back, giving time to spend on development.

More face to face time

People are intrinsically social beings. Just because they are sat behind a desk performing business tasks, it doesn’t change that fact. By implementing Intelligent Automation, you let your people, engage with people. This delivers more from your employees as they collaborate to find new ways to explore that idea that you’ve spoken about for months — but never quite got to. Spending time face to face creates the cohesion to drive your business forward, while the other automatable tasks are not forgotten by the Virtual Workers, continuously working in the background. 

As the workplace changes, businesses must start to look at ways to reengage their staff and deliver a shift in how they allocate work. If given the chance, employees will find their identity and purpose in work that lets their minds run wild with possibilities for their roles and the wider business. The greatest innovations and ideas come from giving time back to staff — so embrace the rise of the Virtual Workforce and deliver the workforce evolution your business deserves.