Imagine this: You reach work and check your inbox, you’ve been copied on a dozen emails that Roger has sent and soon after, you receive a status report from Roger. All this within minutes of logging into a portal.

While this level of productivity cannot be achieved by a human employee, it is feasible through leveraging human design and technological capabilities to build systems like ‘Roger the Bot.’*

Similar to IQ that measures intellectual cognitive abilities, RQ (Robotic Quotient) measures how well organisations learn from, adapt to, collaborate with, trust and generate business results from automated entities, including RPA (robotic process automation), AI (artificial intelligence) and even physical robots. This measurement is a self-scoring tool developed by Forrester to evaluate a company or individual’s ability to work effectively with robots and embrace automation.

Many organisations now are starting to use robots and automation in various ways. However, irrespective of where an organisation currently is along the technology adoption spectrum, it must constantly learn, un-learn and re-learn. This is evident from the recent examples in the media- from Google using AI to transform the healthcare industry to Burger King testing AI to write ad copy. While this wave of adoption is at a nascent stage, we predict it to become a norm that will demand restructuring of business models.

To safeguard and ensure seamless operational transition, organisations should begin to self-assess their RQ. While robotics, automation, AI and the like may initially appear to only positively impact an organisation’s processes, organisational leaders should prepare for a digital transformation with effects that ripple enterprise-wide, affecting numerous operating model layers. Successfully leveraging automated entities will require thoughtful change management practices and possibly an overhaul of the current operating model.

Deloitte, in its article ‘Coming of age digitally,’ highlights that a significant obstacle to digital maturity is thinking about transformation as a technology challenge instead of a strategy or leadership challenge. It reinforces that in digital transformation, the transformation is more important than the digital. It encourages enterprises to have a vision for the transformation (e.g. automated yet personalised customer experience) rather than a blanket approach of digital or IoT. Therefore, we recommend a three-pronged approach to assess process, people and purpose, while embracing automation.

Process:

Automation has the power to either improve or eliminate a task/process. Hence, an organisation needs to take a bird’s-eye view and visit its process blueprint to gauge where and which type of automation will yield the best results. In the scenario mentioned at the start, Deloitte reimagined the process using RPA, since this was the most effective automation option given the nature of the task.

The desire to automate should be treated as a strategic initiative by revisiting processes that define the current business model, predicting what the future will encompass and focusing on tweaking those processes to make the organisation future-proof. Starting with the ‘end in mind’ will validate whether certain organisational processes will still prevail in the future, or whether they need to be eliminated or re-engineered. This strategic exercise will ensure that the organisation invests in automating the right processes that will give the organisation a competitive advantage.

People:

As we head towards the world of virtual colleagues, organisations will need to reorganise themselves to serve a more complex workforce composition. While many organisations include diversity and inclusion as a strategic priority, they will soon also need to grapple with gig workers and robot employees, and decide how to lead and engage a workforce that is increasingly less homogeneous. Deloitte has extensively written on the topic ‘The Future of Work,’ and the interplay of various factors that will result in the new concoction of a culture, demanding attention to processes across all business functions. For example, the implication on the IT function will be to provide the necessary technological environment and infrastructure; and the HR function will need to redefine recruitment, learning, performance management, etc. Questions in relation to bot inclusivity and whether an organisation has policies to support teams with different employment contracts, need to be asked and answered. Another, and probably the easiest people impact to consider is, how to obtain the capability required to implement automation, since this can be outsourced.

Purpose:

Automation will remove, redefine and create jobs. Therefore, it is vital to consider the implications of automation against the organisation’s purpose, to understand and re-examine what the organisation believes in, as automation can have significant social impacts. Organisational leaders will need to ponder upon what could be automated versus what should be automated. Just because a task or process can be automated, should it be? Therefore, it will be a corporate’s responsibility to have a societal lens and reflect on whether impacted employees need to be re-skilled or redeployed.

Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report highlights that this year, 2018, is witnessing the rise of Social Enterprises. This shift reflects the growing importance of social capital in shaping organisation’s purpose, guiding its relationship with stakeholders and influencing its ultimate success or failure. Therefore, enterprises’ consideration around Purpose will likely overarch the ones for Process and People, possibly even deciding whether organisations prioritise to pursue a profit-driven or a purpose-driven agenda.

To prepare for the future, it is never too early, or late, to start thinking about automation and its purpose… Roger that!

*Deloitte New Zealand has brought this imagination to life by making Roger the bot a reality, using Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Get in touch if you would like to explore automation opportunities for your organisation.

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