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A future workplace cocktail: the right blend for the right occasion

Posted at 11/04/17 05:25 in Technology 0 Comments

Robots get a lot of unfair press. Normally this is along the lines of ‘how robots will take your job’, ‘humans rendered obsolete’ and other doomsday clickbait. Whilst automation will indeed remove the need for humans to take on some tasks (often tedious and repetitive ones at that), we will be freed up to focus on more innovative areas of work. Plus, humans will still be needed to programme and manage their robot co-workers. Judging the correct degree of human involvement in the future workplace will depend very much on the task in hand. Like a good cocktail, it’s all about getting the right mix.

Easy on the robot, please

Some instances of automation still require significant human input, meaning that there is a low bot-human ratio. Invoice processing is normally thought of as the type of highly repetitive and high volume process that’s perfect for high levels of automation. As many businesses have found out, this isn’t necessarily true.

In an ideal world, there would be portal-enabled and consistent e-invoicing mechanisms present across the industry. Realistically, there is a wide variety of paper formatting, meaning a human has to open the envelope and feed documents into a scanner. Processes further down the line can be automated with RPA, but this initial involvement keeps the ratio of digital to human low.

One part robot, one part human

Understanding variance, and where it lies in your process, is key to assessing the right blend of humans and robots. Better appreciation of variance, and being able to apply this to complex processes, can significantly boost end-to-end service productivity.

One insurance provider was able to use Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO) to achieve the right blend of robots and humans in an area normally challenging for identifying variance – high value life policies. They found that early stages of the process were stacked with variability, and so were more suited to the human workforce. The later stages of the process, however, which mostly involved managing third party trading, underlying assets and validating payments, were more suited to the robots.

By identifying the areas of variance and allocating the most suitable stages in the process, the insurance company was able to achieve a 25% improvement in the end-to-end service productivity.

On ice, powerful stuff

Normally, you’d think that the closer processes are to your customers, the less potential there is for the introduction of automation. However, there are several high-profile exceptions which demonstrate a working environment with a high robot:human ratio. In banking, customer interactions have seen a significant boost in efficiency and improved overall experience with the help of a digital workforce. ‘Know Your Customer’ processes have been boosted by up to 80% - benefits include improved compliance and faster client-onboarding. Wipro, for example, have given banks the chance to achieve notable results with the use of its eKYC solution built using Wipro HOLMES. In this case, it’s clear that as far as businesses are concerned, the more robotic involvement the better.

Perfecting the right mix in business is the same as making a great dinner party G+T. Whilst some processes can be given over to robots almost entirely, there are still plenty of areas that still require the human touch. Finding the correct blend leads to the best results, in the form of easier and more efficient client offerings, and a rewarding employee experience all round.

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