With global technology spending at an all-time high, more organizations are looking to technology to augment their human workers. But convincing humans to work alongside robots is still a challenge for many, particularly those who view AI as a threat to their livelihood. According to many experts, including Forrester vice president and principal analyst J.P. Gownder, intelligent automation will create new jobs and also transform existing ones.
The Forrester report predicts that over the course of this year alone, “bots” will impact approximately 311,000 administrative roles and 260,000 sales jobs, either replacing them altogether or augmenting them in some way. Those remaining human workers will find their capabilities enhanced by these bots. For instance, more and more employees will begin to shift their rote, repetitive tasks and workflows on to intelligent automation, enabling them to become more strategic in their roles.
As Gownder also pointed out in his report, the key to implementing intelligent automation as a tool to augment human workers is to start with focused business problems. Let’s take a look at how to accomplish this in a three step process.
Segment the workforce to target specific roles and/or workflows.
Decision-makers should evaluate their workforce and divide it into segments to identify which business problems could be most easily solved with intelligent automation. It’s true that AI can be leveraged across the entire organization to some degree, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be implemented everywhere right from the get-go. Instead, it should be strategically applied where it will quickly produce the highest returns. Then it can be rolled out more extensively.
Develop and nurture solutions in a piloting environment.
Augmenting human workers with intelligent automation technology requires a very structured approach. Utilizing an innovation lab or other type of test environment will enable new solutions to be designed and tested before they are implemented. Start with small pilots and iterate at every step, tweaking the process as needed until a realistic, feasible solution is reached. Once the most effective solution is determined, it can then be introduced into the live environment.
Add robotic coworkers with specific competencies to the team.
While bots are beginning to augment human work, they are still best used in very narrow, specific contexts, the Forrester report noted. As intelligent automation is introduced into human teams, it’s best to focus on employee experience. It’s also important to recognize that a certain investment in upgrading, improving and reskilling human workers will likely be necessary in order to facilitate a cohesive environment in which both people and robots can work side-by-side and complement one another.
Ultimately, the way human workers perceive their role and impact within an organization will affect their engagement and productivity. As they begin to view intelligent automation as a tool to help them be more productive and engage in more meaningful work, they will begin to recognize the value that AI brings to their lives.