High-value innovation

In a fast digitalising world, robotic process automation is becoming the norm and a critical differentiator

As our world becomes increasingly digital, smart algorithms, bots and AI tools will no longer be the exception for organisations, but the norm. The productivity gains on offer are too large to ignore, and traditional mindsets and approaches are wilting away into the background.

Will ‘Automation First’ be the Norm?

AI has been around for several decades, but is only now gaining traction. Earlier it lay in a corner of a system with millions of data points, which never reached the employees and systems. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) acts as a supply chain of AI, so that it can interface with multiple systems, and bi-directionally pull and push, and give business data. RPA is the gateway to AI, and behind AI is Machine Learning, which is the scientific study of algorithms and statistical models used in computer systems to effectively perform a specific task without using explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inferences instead. RPA is supported by all three technologies. But all three are at different points on the Moore’s Law, and the entire ecosystem will take off when the three cross a point of inflection. It is likely that this will happen in the next few years.

Benefits of Automation

Automation has become a priority as it allows machines to take over the more mundane and repetitive jobs. So it introduces speed, efficiency, and higher productivity. This will free up the human mind for building strategies, expanding the business, and all this will translate into higher profits.

The Key Elements

The key elements that are needed to put this in place are the right strategy, right approach, technology, mindset, and execution. The last two however, can be stumbling blocks, as there is resistance and fear of failing, that slow down the process. The data bot concept is going to help us a lot. It will add a layer to all the available technologies, and business processes and take the organisation to the next level of humans and machines.

Danger Lurking in the Shadows

The flipside to this is the fear that automation will result in loss of jobs. According to one statistic, the auto industry has seen a 70-75 per cent productivity increase in the last six-seven years. However, the service industry has seen a productivity decrease. The reason is that manufacturing, the first industry to use robots, replaced many machines, but the service industry can only replace people. There is another school of thought that believes that there is danger that the machines will start performing beyond mundane tasks, and that AI is dangerous and needs to be regulated. It is a double-edged sword that needs to be wielded with great sagacity.

As the epicenter of tech disruption moves east, India needs to ready itself for the automation wave sweeping across the world. RPA and AI have shifted the paradigm in many ways, and for India to sieze the opportunity ahead of it, it needs to pair automation with employee up-skilling in order to create a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“We want to focus on how every school student in India can embrace automation as a skill and internalise it. We want to look at the theme ‘one robot for every student’ where we will give our community version software, and adequate training free of cost.” – Raghunath Subramanian, CEO, UiPath India

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