Using robots to create value for customers and employees alike

in Industry Insights, Technology, 19.10.2018

Digital labour is a vast and complex realm. Today, it is hard to find a business process that wouldn’t benefit from growing technological innovations, but finding the right solution, one that operates on multiple levels, can be tedious for a company.

Of course, from the customer’s perspective, this doesn’t matter—as long as the end product or service is satisfactory. Making the customer journey as seamless as possible can therefore become a key differentiator for a company, and the first step is putting the tools of digital labour in place.

Understanding digital labour

Tales of artificial intelligence (AI) replacing human consciousness are widespread. However, while they can be interesting meditations on the future, the truth is that it’s far from the current reality.

Instead, what we have today is an umbrella of evolving technologies increasingly using AI. Bots running on AI are emerging everywhere: a Luxembourgish company has designed one that creates music by analysing existing classics, for example, and there are many species of chatbot that can learn to recognise queries and respond to them correctly. AI is also seen in the form of algorithms that can create intelligent insights out of huge data sets, usually for data and analytics purposes.

What, if anything, can convert these bots into the advanced digital consciousness of sci-fi stories isn’t quite clear, but when it comes to digital labour a much more precise path to the future has already been found and categorised into three levels:

  • robotic process automation (RPA)
  • enhanced process automation
  • cognitive automation

RPA, currently widespread, works on processes that are definable, repeatable, and rule-based, assigning each one a bot to manage the execution of that process. Enhanced process automation is still in its early days. It can do what RPA does, but builds on that with learning capacities and pattern recognition, using natural language processing (NLP). The final level, cognitive automation, foresees a level of robot that, using advanced artificial intelligence, can dynamically solve a number of problems for systems that aren’t necessarily rigidly rule-based.

Augmenting human labour

From a business perspective, the ultimate goal of digital labour is better speed and efficiency. The improvements are substantial and there is no denying that digital labour will change the workplace. However, naturally enough, there are fears that robots will take over jobs. It doesn’t have to be so, and certainly not in such simple terms. Indeed, robots are designed to take over tasks, but jobs are still needed. Implementing RPA implies a new environment where digital and human workers collaborate. Employees will slip into roles focusing more on uniquely human tasks, like managing and programming bots, making strategic or creative decisions, and being available for customers.

The change is a positive one for management and workforce alike, but ensuring that everyone sees it that way is crucial to the success of the transformation. The answer is change management, which, if planned carefully, can contextualise the change as an opportunity for the workforce to evolve and adapt. In the larger sense of a competitive and unapologetic marketplace, that evolution is what secures their jobs more than anything.

Conclusion

These new technological advancements have already improved the customer experience, and will continue to do so. Currently, the potential of digital labour is felt most strongly in back office situations, but there is a spillover on middle and front offices too. Eventually, the robots will improve to the point where customers can interact directly with them. The boundary between the digital and human workforce will only blur together more, and as the process continues the key will be updating and optimising human roles while maintaining the right mindset internally.

Read more customer experience insights in the Khube Mag special CX edition.


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