Automation lessons from the first #EnateChat
On the 28th of June, Enate held its first ever #EnateChat Twitter chat. We were looking to tap into the thoughts, opinions and predictions of the automation/RPA community and I was asked to lead the chat, posing a series of questions and looking to spark debate. I’m thrilled to say that the #EnateChat was a big success!
In the rapid-fire half-hour discussion on how to make the most of the combined human/digital workforce, we saw users joining the chat from as far afield as India, Poland and the USA, pinging over 100 tweets during the 30-minute slot. Symphony Ventures, SIG and ISG, were just a few of the companies that got involved, and we also heard from journalist Adi Gaskell and Outsource Magazine editors Sarah Holliman and Hailey Corr, who were able to offer their own unique take on the automation space.
It was fantastic to see the interest and passion that people have when it comes to automation and a world where bots and humans are increasingly co-existing. To that end, there were some common themes that emerged during the chat, all of which centered on the problem of integrating the digital workforce with human workers.
1.) Automation implementation and taking the ‘R’ out of RPA and RSO
While Adi Gaskell made the point that it’s nice to see “the silliness about robots taking over the world dying down,” there seems to be a lingering problem for businesses introducing bots into their workforce. Many users agreed that “implementation is the main issue” and that interest in automation/RPA at the board-level wasn’t matched by the capability on the ground. Sarah Holliman, SIG, suggested there are also potential issues with making sure that the human workforce is comfortable with the introduction of RPA software (or physical automation) into the working environment: “How do you make the humans in the workplace feel like the bots are part of the team?”
Humanising the digital, and making sure that humans remain in ultimate control, were good ‘airbag’ solutions. Dawn Tiura of SIG put forward: “I would love it if we were able to take the R out of RPA and RSO, wouldn’t you?” Kit Cox of Enate responded: “It would certainly highlight the key difference between Process and Service.”
2.) People are getting the business benefits of bots
Kamal Saran provided an excellent example for the benefits of automation taking on tasks that might typically be seen as drudge work in order to provide a more efficient and beneficial service. He asked users to consider a public sector employee who can manage RPA software to collect data from multiple systems and verify the benefits to which a citizen might be entitled. The human worker can arrive at the correct decision more quickly and has time freed up to focus on the unique elements of each case, which may require soft skills.
3.) Automation needs to go hand in hand with orchestration
Lee Lundy from Symphony Ventures stated that bots seemed most scary or alien when they “aren’t doing a given role [as] part of the team.” It’s this disconnect between the acquisition and implementation of bots that can lead to the workforce operating below expected levels. Chris Gayner, Lee’s colleague, also added that “not all bots are created equal—assistive bots that work with humans need to be treated differently to process/transaction bots—and thus require a different comms strategy.” He also added that being clear about virtual workers’ purpose and managing them efficiently with sufficient oversight was key to success.
Busy times during #EnateChat over a half hour period—and before I knew it, it was time bring things to a close. Hey ho, “leave them wanting more,” as the saying goes. We’re already looking forward to the next one…watch this space!