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Monday, August 14, 2017

How automation is shaping the workplace of the future

by Darren Rushworth, President APAC, NICE Ltd

It is inevitable that robots will become our co-workers. Any repetitive task that requires accuracy and speed, but little judgment, would be better performed by a robot. When humans are made to perform manual, mundane processes repeatedly, it can cause frustration over time and be error prone. Given the tight labour market for good talent[1], it simply is not a good use of precious resources either. The solution is called Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and it’s here in Asia today. Through RPA, Asian businesses can automate many repetitive processes, in both front and back offices, and improve efficiencies and effectiveness to become more competitive in today’s digital landscape.

While IDC expects 40 percent of digital transformation initiatives in Asia Pacific to be supported by Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities by 2020, only 12 percent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in the region believe that AI will have a positive impact on their businesses in the next five years. It is not uncommon for CIOs who are saddled with shrinking budgets and increasing demands from business users to be sceptical about yet another new technology. What they want to know is how the technology will work, if it will really deliver on the hype, and what’s the Return on Investment (ROI)? Here are the answers to these questions:



Happier customers, better business

Customer satisfaction is all about giving the customer what they want, when they want it. All industries today are under immense pressure of providing the ultimate customer experience in a consumer-centric world, while keeping costs as low as possible.

By replacing lengthy manual tasks with faster, automated processes, Asian organisations, across industries, can now look forward to higher customer satisfaction and cost savings.

In fact, we saw a financial services organisation reduce its average call-handling time by 82 percent through automating the entire customer alert process. With RPA taking over this routine, yet critical job, the human call centre agents are now able to focus on more value-added tasks such as fraud investigation and customer service. The organisation is now handling more than 8,000 alerts each month, with 99 percent accuracy, and ensuring satisfaction throughout the entire customer journey.

Applicable across industries, we also saw a retail company eliminate 100 percent of order entry errors by adopting RPA to facilitate delivery requests and customer follow-ups. This resulted in improved accuracy for the business, a growing base of loyal, happy customers, and increased revenue growth over the years3.

RPA, the most reliable co-worker

“Robots are taking away our jobs.” This is a real fear of many employees today[4], but the truth is that RPA works best by working hand-in-hand with humans, not by replacing us. While RPA can act as a standalone tool for automated processes, it can also assist human employees in performing tasks quickly and more accurately. By relieving employees of repetitive, menial tasks, they can then be assigned to more strategic work and given opportunities to take up new skills to stay relevant and competitive.

According to industry analysts, RPA is enabling enterprises to execute business processes five to ten times faster, with an average of 37 percent fewer resources. These productivity gains are not resulting in job losses, but are enabling companies to re-deploy employees to handle higher-value tasks and a greater volume of work.

For example, when a transportation company implemented RPA for its package re-delivery scheduling, the contact centre agents were freed from routine processes and high-stress tasks, enabling them to be more proactive and productive in their relationships with customers3.

Killing two birds with one stone, RPA enables companies to improve customer service, while increasing employee satisfactions levels. Automation has been around for many years and RPA simply takes it one step further, by bringing it from the factory floor into offices, contact centres, risk management functions, and more. When the upside is happier customers, happier employees, improved productivity, and revenue growth, there’s no reason not to get started today.

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