Robotics and cognitive automation (R&CA)-driven technologies are already working alongside humans in many settings, replicating their actions and judgment to perform routine tasks at lower cost. I believe R&CA is going to become a dominant business driver in just three short years, so companies should be setting their R&CA strategies now.
A critical but often underappreciated first step with R&CA is to understand the main objectives of automation. Cost reduction alone likely won’t be enough. But don’t expect much support from the people in the organization who are going to be affected, regardless of whether their jobs are on the line.
Organizations often try to build an R&CA business case by asking support function leaders how they can take costs out. But think about it. Is someone running an existing operation likely to consider a dramatic restructuring using novel technology – and ending up with a much smaller domain – an attractive proposition? Functional leaders will likely respond that R&CA can’t be done in their area. They may suggest experimenting first in hopes of stalling the effort with a never-ending pilot. They may say it’s a phenomenal opportunity, and these other three business units are the perfect candidates.
If this all sounds familiar, it is. Business process outsourcing got similar pushback a few years ago.
As with BPO, R&CA’s champions will likely need to take a data-driven approach to setting objectives and developing an organizational change program. That means gathering data, documenting processes, and understanding performance metrics. With that foundation, you can proceed to mapping a future operating model that goes beyond lower costs to include preserving service quality, maintaining or improving operational risk levels, and redeploying human resources to higher value activities. It’s important that you clearly articulate what those objectives are.
Is R&CA figuring into your organization’s future? I’d appreciate hearing about it.