Digital co-workers: The tech trend of this decade
Research suggests that by as early as 2025 we will each have one.
What are Digital Co-Workers?
Digital Co-workers are a Software Robot solution, a combination of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Machine Learning software. Your Digital Co-worker learns to mimic human actions, execute tasks, interact with applications such as Excel just as a human would. Digital Co-workers can undertake tasks error-free around the clock and work at least four times faster than humans.
It is incredible to see how job satisfaction can quickly increase when your Digital Co-Workers take over clerical, repetitive and mundane parts of a job. By streamlining these rote tasks, Digital Co-workers have the capacity to positively transform the modern workplace. Automation that is ethical and responsible has the ability to free up staff and reconfigure job responsibilities in more meaningful and productive ways, resulting in more fulfilled and happier staff. With more time and more resources, everyone can engage in more meaningful and high value tasks that bolster business development and growth.
Digital Co-Workers: a proven Software Robot solution
There are a host of automation tools available to enterprises. However, Software Robots solutions are currently deployed at greatest velocity because they have a low barrier to integration, are easy to set up and the most efficient automation strategy.
With 3+ million Software Robots deployed worldwide, the technology has been integrated into existing infrastructure with ease. Software Robots can prolong the lifespan of aging and legacy infrastructure and address key pain problems by replicating the human glue that currently sticks systems together. As definiti’s Automation Thought Leader, Tony Roupell suggests, “Software Robots allow us to tactically target human glue steps in a process transformation journey that were previously in the too hard bucket.”
The Benefits of Digital Co-workers
Increase productivity and efficiency
Digital Co-workers can perform the tasks of multiple employees. By streamlining processes and increasing accuracy, Digital Co-workers take on the ‘busy work’, employees are then freed up to focus on high-value tasks that can’t be automated.
Reduced lead times
Automation helps keep key tasks such as data processing in-house, improving process control and significantly reducing lead times compared to outsourcing.
Digital Co-workers automate processes based on your unique needs and goals. Easy to deploy and integrate, they offer a fast ROI due to increased productivity and efficiency, reduced lead times and increased output.
Ability to be more competitive
Digital Co-workers decrease cycle times for key business tasks. They have the ability to work at speed 24/7. This allows you to better compete in the market. Additionally, the flexibility of Digital Co-workers allows them to be deployed across multiple tasks and processes to exceed the capabilities of your competition.
Consistent and improved quality
Digital Co-workers perform with less variability than human workers, resulting in greater control and consistency regarding quality.
Consistent and faster operating times means that Digital Co-workers allow you to more reliably predict timing and costs. Predictability offers a tighter margin and shields against volatility.
The Discovery Phase
It is important to undertake an inventory of a company's existing processes to more easily identify candidates for automation. When integrating Digital Co-workers, enterprises should begin with automating tasks that are well documented, well known and repeatable, with a clear path to execution.
definiti’s Tony Roupell suggests that enterprises must follow 4 key steps prior to automation. These are:
Identify the human glue early
Measure and benchmark your workflows
Score and prioritise to select the winner
Make an informed decision on the harvestable value
Roupell warns that by jumping straight into automation and skipping the measurement and benchmarking phases, automation can lead to questionable ROI. “A measure 1st approach is the key to success”, Roupell says.
Automation Culture: Remove the “robots” from our day-to-day activities
At the beginning of your automation journey, employees can often be concerned that the implementation of a Digital Workforce made of Software Robots will result in job losses. This is often not the case. Instead, Digital Co-workers increase the productive capacity of the knowledge workforce through augmentation and automation. They can reduce expenses and increase productivity while keeping staffing flat. By taking over the mundane and repetitive, employees are freed up for high value tasks and more meaningful human interaction. After showing employees that Digital Co-workers can alleviate the manual tasks in areas such as customer service, finance, underwriting and claims, staff do see the value of automation.
To help champion automation, it is important to consider the deployment of Software Robots in the context of change management. Digitally transformed enterprises with successful automation at scale will require employees to adapt and learn new processes. It is essential to have a plan in place for training, and a dedicated champion responsible for overseeing the implementation and adoption. This individual may be a Chief Automation Officer (CAO). The CAO needs to be responsible for inspiring employee engagement and promoting the idea that automation is the future of work. Critically, the CAO must ensure that the integration of Digital Co-workers is understandable and auditable, easy for staff to comprehend with confidence, even if they are not tech specialists.
Automation or Digital Process Transformation cannot occur in a vacuum.
In addition to a CAO type figure, scaling automation initiatives work well when HR is actively involved in an automation strategy, helping a speedy adoption of such powerful value propositions across all sections of the business.
While Digital Co-worker adoption has been strong, it has largely not been harnessed at scale. 51% of companies that have invested in Digital Co-workers have fewer than 10 currently deployed.
In the long term, scaling an enterprise’s digital transformation will require the integration of additional technologies beyond Software Robot solutions. Robotic Process Automation is often considered a gateway technology which leads to the subsequent integration of AI, decision modelling, analytics and machine learning.
Machine learning, for example, continues to improve and develop, Le Clair proposes that machine learning algorithms will be fundamental to decision-making processes within businesses. It may, for example, be able to determine whether a task should be sent to a Digital Co-worker or routed to a human for execution.
Digital Workforce and the Future of Work
It is anticipated that by 2027 the global Software Robots solution (Robotic Process Automation) market will reach USD $10.7 billion in size (Grand View Research, 2020). Intelligent Automation simplifies the growing complexity of business processes, reduces costs and improves operational efficiency, in turn freeing valuable employees from the burden of repetitive tasks.
Today, organisations recognise that a hybrid approach, leveraging both human expertise and Intelligent Automation offers innovation and agility. Craig Le Claire, an analyst with Forrester Research anticipates that as early as 2025, Digital Co-workers will be fundamental to the way we work, with most employees having a personal Digital Co-worker (Craig Le Clair, 2019).
Failure to automate is a failure to innovate. Digital transformation allows enterprises to remain competitive, manage change and set up a solid foundation upon which to incorporate new technologies into the future.
Craig Le Clair (2019). Invisible robots in the quiet of the night: how AI and automation will restructure the workforce. Cambridge, Mass: Forrester.