70% agree: 'Robots are job creators'
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) - getting robots to do tasks normally carried out by humans - is changing the world of work. While some say that robots are taking human jobs, what do business owners contemplating automation think?
PEX Editor Ian Hawkins says: 'Automation might be obvious to consumers, like a barrier at a train station checking you have a valid ticket, or it might be happen in the background, such as a robot doing the admin when you switch bank accounts. This digital transformation changes how companies operate, and as more businesses automate where they can, there is an attitude of "automate or die" across industries.'
This technology, critics say, could lead to mass unemployment as robots take all the jobs. But, says Ian, such predictions may be wide of the mark. 'We have just finished RPA Live, the world's biggest online event with over 3,000 registrants from around the world. And the focus has not been "how can we cut jobs?" ... People are much more interested in how technology can help businesses grow and deploy the workers they have in different roles.'
One speaker at the virtual conference was adamant that minimizing cost was not her main priority: 'Anything we're doing needs to be creating value,' says Angela Mangiapane, President of confectionary and pet food giants Mars Global Services. 'Most businesses are using automation to augment skill, scale operations and increase speed.'
Another speaker, Graham Penman from software company K2, says that bosses need to engage the workforce to work with robots through training, inspiration and giving them room to experiment. 'Computers can't solve every problem,' he told the conference, 'but your people know the problems better than anyone else, and if you give them the right tools they can build some cool solutions.'
Ask the audience
Throughout the event, a number of digital polls were conducted to gauge the opinions of attendees. These were typically people with a high level of authority in a range of industries from banking, manufacturing, services and government. A full post show report is available here.
Attendees were asked whether they agreed with the statement 'Automation is a job creator.' PEX Network found:
Agree - 70%
Disagree - 18%
Don't know - 12%
The attendees were also asked to complete the sentence 'Digital Transformation is...'
Essential - 87%
Only for a few - 10%
A complete fad - 3%
PEX Editor Ian sums up: 'Businesses know they need to go beyond change - they need to transform. The good news for people is that nobody is seriously talking about mass sackings when they start their RPA projects. The people actively engaged in these projects believe that automation will actually create jobs - with the right training. Like any new technology, there will be opportunities, it's just that these new opportunities don't look much like the old ones.'
So as a way of future-proofing your career? 'Agility is key. If your employer offers training in bots, take it. Be prepared to let go of your old way of doing things, and the more you learn about the technology, the more you'll learn about what jobs are greats for machines, and which ones are great for humans.'
For further information, please contact Ian Hawkins, PEX Network Editor:
0207 3689 399