Since automation means different things to different companies, there isn’t a common ground to begin with. Your journey to the successful implementation of automation should flow from a comprehensive understanding of the human component in your business and how introducing this technology will affect all those working there.
People typically tend to associate the words “automation” and “robotics” with “job loss.” In reality, automation has remarkable potential to enhance the working lives of anyone it touches as it frees them from the more ordinary tasks and the routine aspects of their jobs to focus on value-adding activities.
Nevertheless, the fear and misapprehension of this new technology, which appears like it’ll replace humans, is only natural and quite challenging to overcome. As a result, we bring you this guide that promotes and justifies the implementation of robotic automation to the management, along with the top strategies to evangelize automation that’ll put your common fears to rest .
Smoothing the Path to Automation Success
Business automation and IT automation are not quite the same things. Still, they generate a common side effect in their introductory phases: they overwhelm and scare off people.
Every time a technology revolution takes place, people fear they will lose their jobs, but that’s not really the case. History reveals it is always the opposite that happens. Sure, a handful of jobs go away, but this is basically covered up by creating far more jobs.
The evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will most likely create a similar impact. A recent report from the World Economic Forum predicts that algorithms and machines will relocate almost 75 million jobs worldwide by 2022. However, in their place, more than 133 million new roles will be created in the workplace.
These numbers are significant, and while they speak to an array of new opportunities, they also indicate a considerable degree of change. So yes, anything with even a whiff of robotics and automation can result in outright fear or skepticism.
The very name of automation sounds a little petrifying, but it is somewhat arid at its core. For instance, robots and automated industrial machinery are ultimately about using advanced software to automate the repetitive, predictable, and high-volume processes that once necessitated human efforts.
If you start to classify or implement automation use cases, you’re bound to face some resistance. Despite the many powerful possibilities it offers, the fear factor it produces it real. Hence, you should be fully prepared to do some evangelizing to promote robotics.
Without a doubt, automation opens the door to plenty of new and intellectual opportunities for workers. Rather than spending hours completing repetitive tasks manually, team members can leverage robotics to focus on intellectual work that only calls for human supervision, creativity, and ingenuity.
Today, automation is primarily just a minor component of a more significant, multi-stage workflow that requires human thought-processing and decision-making to see the successful completion of work. If done right, robotics automation is solely about eliminating stuff that simply nobody really wants to spend hours of their day doing.
Simply put, automation is an enabler of workers, not an eliminator. By automating mundane and repetitive business processes, companies can significantly enhance the work-life quality for their entire team.
How to Evangelize for Automation
By now, you must've understood that the only way to successfully deploy robots and automate business operations and systems, you need to successfully evangelize automation to the whole organization.
The most essential factor is to clearly communicate the purpose of the project. A 3-stage program of the implementation of robotic automation can be of utmost help for employees. Let’s look at these 3 stages.
The 1st Stage: Education
A proof-of-concept phase or proof-of-value can genuinely help you comprehend the power of automation. This is where you test that the new technology works from the delivery plan and business case, which spells out the possible savings and benefits to be made.
This gives you a terrific opportunity to engage with leadership teams and explain the numerous benefits they can expect to achieve. After this, you need to take out this message to the company as a whole.
Everybody must understand what automation is and how each person can benefit from it. This process also requires the involvement of all front-life staff members since it is vital they know that working with robots and automated systems can automate their job’s routine elements and help them focus more on the customer.
The supporting departments like IT security and HR should be equally involved to make sure there is complete collaboration and coordination within the organization. Hence, this stage is entirely about laying the practical details for automation’s long-term success.
The 2nd Stage: Evaluation
In the evaluation stage, you get a business case live by computerizing a specific number of processes. This stage is generally focused on the new technology. Still, you need a powerful means of communication and a well-thought-out change management program to keep the appropriate workers on board and informed as the project starts becoming more noticeable.
Working with a small team of people makes it reasonable to expect that you can design, create, assess, and implement the automation of a process within 30-40 days. This process has crucial selection criteria.
Processes apt for a proof-of-value are typically complex and significant enough to prove a return on investment (ROI) within 40 days. At the same time, they’re also small enough that it thwarts the obstacles that come with scaling an automation solution. By the end of this stage, you must have:
- An automated process in the running.
- A clear plan for how to take the automation forward.
- A workforce that has been adequately educated about how automation works and what it entails.
The key objective is to prove to the entire organization the benefits of test, delivery, and handing the robots and automated systems over to the business if the goal is to be self-sufficient.
The 3rd Stage: Facilitation
In the final stage, companies must overcome the workers’ resistance to automation by creating an operational business plan for carrying it out throughout the company. Of course, this includes a pipeline of robotics and automation, specifying precisely which resources and processes will most likely be involved.
Being the center of excellence involves a proper organizational structure provided by a third party or in-house. It should consist of technical software support, business process support, and/or infrastructure support for all the robotics activities.
From the beginning of your journey to automation, you should be pondering what this structure will appear like after the project. This is a significant resourcing consideration, which is likely to change throughout the proof-of-value stage.
At the core, it is all about creating and reinforcing the concept that the role of automation is to automate the tasks, not the job roles. Once everybody in the organization starts to experience the endless benefits of automation through this phased process for themselves, you can rest assured there is no going back.
Four Strategies for Making a Case for Automation
Brainy IT leaders are aware that practically coercing a significant change upon workers is typically a recipe for disaster and organizational dissatisfaction. Likewise, too many good-to-be-true promises with minor details can raise a few eyes and bring out skepticism amongst IT professionals.
Thus, your backing for automation must be concrete and personal, if that’s at all possible. When evangelizing automation, you always wish to know your target audience and convey stories that you know people can relate to. This is particularly true with automation, primarily due to the immeasurable fear of job loss.
As a result, here are 4 tailored strategies that you should consider for following this advice.
Focus on the problem instead of the solution
One way to alleviate the fear and resistance factor is to focus less on this new technology rousing the fear and more on the everyday challenges it can solve. This is a more persuasive approach with individuals who have doubts about the technology.
Initiating with the problem rather than the solution averts the need for convincing people to believe you. Chances are they’ll have faced these problems throughout their workdays. When you start with the problem, you’re actually conveying to your audience that you understand them.
At this point, it is wise to proceed with baby steps into how automation has been used in similar scenarios to tackle similar issues. But remember, the focus should be on the impact and outcomes, not on automation itself.
Show in detail how people will benefit from automation
While preaching the benefits of the new technology will be the foremost step most companies might take, you must be sure to do it in specific ways. For instance, you should begin with how this technology will help someone at the individual or team level.
Indeed, automation done right leads to efficiency and productivity gains. However, “ efficiency and productivity gains ” itself might sound like an organizational term for downsizing or other adverse outcomes. A better example would be to convert it into more reasonable terms that depict how automation can relieve individuals’ or teams' burden.
Show people what the future holds
Another aspect that leads to the fear of robotics and other technological changes is insisting that it’ll give rise to new opportunities without actually describing those possibilities. This is something that should occur at the individual and team levels.
If you promise your workers that automation will free up their time to do more interesting work, you should at least be prepared to define (or predict) what that work would include. This is the least your employees deserve.
The key to convincing people and speeding up the adoption and implementation of automation is to make it real to them by exhibiting what they’ll be doing once automation frees up their time. If you can successfully show them how compelling their new roles will be, you can rest assured they’ll be the biggest champions of automation.
Bring in people to tell their real-world automation success stories
If IT leaders are the only ones taking the measures of evangelism in their hands, the results may not be as powerful. They would be more effective if other credible people, including those outside the company, did it for you.
This is because when someone else tells the story, it limits the appearance of a top-down order. Ideally, it is not recommended for you to narrate this story yourself. Instead, you should leverage your network to bring in people who have actually lived and experienced it and speak with authenticity.
Once a wave of support has been gathered at the executive levels, you can start educating and providing situational awareness on the benefits of robotics automation on an individual level.
How to Handle the Potential Objections to Automation
Despite the numerous favorable arguments for robotic automation , people still have many objections against the use of robots and the implementation of automation, especially in the beginning.
It is usual for new technology to be met with resistance, primarily due to the fear factor. Here are 5 potential automation objections that you'll likely encounter on your path to automation, along with suggestions on how to handle them.
Objection 1: Robots will take away workers’ jobs!
Just like in the olden times of the industrial revolution, the fear of robots shifting humans is understandable to some extent. Science-fiction scenarios where individuals can no longer find their place in a world where machines can do all the work on their own are nothing new or strange to our times. Whenever something new appears, it makes sense to be scared.
How to handle
First of all, CIOS must admit that automation will possibly bring about a drastic change in the entire workforce landscape. Secondly, they must specify what this change actually signifies.
The "change" that all of us worry about and contemplate means that human workers will be displaced solely from the repetitive, exhausting, and mundane tasks everybody dreads doing.
Instead, they’ll only have to use their judgment to guide and supervise the super-fast and flawless performance of automated systems and robots.
Objection 2: Technological overload
Most people worry about the IT-specific complex and intrusive technicalities brought about into the enterprise by automation. The terrors of endless complex codes that simply no one but the IT experts can comprehend are bound to haunt business specialists.
How to handle
The first bit of advice you need here is to let go of this superficial myth. Automation simply requires breaking down a particular process into sub-components and asking an expert developer (IT experts are needed in this part of the process) to convert it into code.
Automation is not really invasive, as it does not call for inter-system integrations. Due to its scalability, it only demands updates when the system processing environment updates itself. Moreover, it also helps to differentiate a delivery team from an execution one. Delivery teams are made up of coders and other members of the IT team.
On the other hand, the execution team comprises business users who take possession of software robots upon delivery by the delivery team. They are responsible for supervising the robot, ensuring it does what it is supposed to do. Moreover, if it goes astray, then they’re also responsible for bringing it back on track.
Objection 3: Hassle for too much uncertainty regarding payback
This particular objection amounts to the concern that both intellectual and financial expenses will significantly outweigh the benefits. Even though this is unquestionably true that many people acknowledge the benefits of automation, most people also perceive that implementing automation is tremendously complicated. They also wonder, “What is the need to do it anyway since things are working fine now?”
How to handle
One must understand that the effectiveness of automation goes beyond fast paycheck and cost reduction. Cost minimization is an undeniable fact, given the capacity of software robots to perform faultless activities must faster than human beings can.
This way, human workers can be engaged in more productive tasks, significantly boosting their sense of personal value, followed by job performance and motivation. However, you mustn’t forget to count more superior product quality and improved compliance when assessing the benefits.
It is essential to have a broader perspective for a more correct outcome evaluation. The bottom line is that the idea of “payback” should have a more in-depth interpretation than just being solely financial.
Objection 4: Challenges in managing a successful collaboration between business and IT departments
Both business and IT departments might find it incredibly challenging to successfully collaborate with one another. Initially, it was mostly just the business units that took care of software robots’ implementation and maintenance in a company.
However, it gradually became clear that help from the IT department isn’t just an option but a bare necessity, mainly when it came to the company-wide expansion of automation. At present, some people still worry that cooperation and compromise between the two are complicated to achieve.
How to handle
A point-of-view such as “either Business Process Management (BPMs) via IT units, or software robots via business units” is probably unfavorable to optimal results. Moreover, this might result in outcomes that are way below expectations and capacities.
Effective implementation of automation, let alone scaling at the company level, is certainly unachievable without constant and consistent support from the IT department.
So, while the IT unit focuses on software delivery consistent with the company’s technical infrastructure, the business unit (who are well aware of their robots) might handle the robots’ behavior focused on achieving the clearly established goals.
Objection 5: Security risks
The automation platform requires accessing private and confidential data, such as passwords or financial information about customers, workers, and vendors. A huge problem people face with automation is, “How to ensure this confidential information is not misused?”
Either those that develop the workflows or the software robots might misuse it, be it in the form of hacker attacks or workers’ mistakes. Nevertheless, the effects are too bothersome, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
How to handle
Firstly, these concerns are entirely understandable, especially given that cyber criminality continues to increase. Still, there is no need to let it stand as a hurdle in advancement since there are many ways to ensure safe practices.
For instance, you can establish internal security by employing a knowledgeable division of labor within the automation team. This indicates only giving specific, authorized uses access to confidential data.
Active directory integration is an effective method that can help assign unique roles regarding access to private data within the automation team. When it comes to being safeguarded from external hacker attacks, encryption will be your best foot forward.
It should be clear by now that robots and automated systems are less costly to run, don’t take paid holidays or sick days, and don’t make mistakes. But simply knowing that does not tell you how or where to start with automating rule-based, repetitive tasks in your company.
It turns out that the key to integrating robots and implementing robotic automation in management is to have a better understanding of your people.
Moreover, it appears that most suggestions for handling objections to automation involve at least some kind of long-term planning. This is because automation is a company-level platform and is typically most effective and beneficial when applied at a large scale.
When comprehensive solutions are envisioned from the start of the robotics journey, chances are that some of the objections can be predicted ahead of time, and you can find solutions for them way before they’re expressed. Keeping these guidelines in mind, CIOS can navigate the journey on the right path from the very start.