“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.” ― Arthur C. Clarke.
When it skepticism about process automation, the skeptics general come in two varieties. The first includes those people who have heard all the breathless promises about whatever the latest “disruptive” wave of technology might be, only to have discovered that it a) doesn’t do what they said it would do, 2) costs too much and 3) is too much of a pain to manage and maintain. Some of them have made a career of being proved right.
The other variety of process automation skeptic, in the other end of the spectrum, are those who fear it may work so well that they are innovated out of a job.
More often than not, the second group is proved wrong—to a degree. For example, if their favorite part of their past jobs was licking envelopes and adhering stamps, those opportunities have clearly diminished.
On the other hand, a recent study from McKinsey estimates that, rather than being the job killer it was once feared to be long ago, personal computers contributed to a new growth in jobs of around 15.8 million since 1980, in the U.S. alone.
Skeptics who fear that AI and process automation will steal their jobs look at numbers from studies like the recent World Economic Forum report, which forecasts 75 million displaced jobs by 2022. The bigger, brighter number from that same study is the 133 million new jobs it will create.
Of course, the big fear, and a real threat, is whether one job lost for one individual skeptic will translates into a new job for the same individual, and whether that job will be better, or worse.
When you look at how companies have chosen to implement intelligent process automation today, the critical decision point that often gets them there is NOT a desire to reduce headcount or eliminate a role. Time and again, the scenario that replays itself when companies approach Artsyl about IPA is that their current staff can’t keep up with the volume and influx of documents, transactions and demands for their time to be applied to some very low-value, dull, repetitive work.
The decision doesn’t become one of getting rid of that hard working, valued employee. It becomes a problem of how to help them keep up with demand and offload the worst parts of their jobs. Often, they are able to cost justify the investment in new technology by comparing it to the cost of hiring another full time employee just to key invoice information into an ERP, sort and file invoices/orders, and track down managers to get their approvals.
Is a job lost? That depends on how you look at it. A NEW job is not created for a new employee. However, the existing employee (who may be an AP clerk or a customer service rep or sales operations specialist), ends up spending less time on data entry and filing. Often, they’re asked to contribute to budgeting, forecasting and analysis, in addition to continuing to own the AP/AR/Etc. process they have maintained all along.
They get hands-on experience with new technology and can translate their process expertise into knowledge to help them contribute to further optimizing processes and adding value. These are the kinds of skills and experience that companies are clamoring for today—with a majority of executives saying that it’s THESE valuable skillsets that they are lacking within their organizations.
If that argument alone isn’t compelling enough, here are four tips for engaging skeptics and helping them to embrace process automation.
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To explore stories from Artsyl customers about their experiences, visit the Artsyl Resource Page.