Automation is increasingly transitioning from the stuff of science fiction to a reality capable of improving productivity and profitability. One of the most promising developments involves the concept of digital workers, which promise to transform nearly every aspect of the modern workforce. They form a core element of business process automation (BPA), in which time-consuming and data-heavy processes are automated to improve workflow.
Digital workers are not, as their name implies, human employees with impressive computer skills. Rather, digital workers bring the power of automation to low-level tasks, thereby freeing up human employees to focus on skills that better utilize their inherent creativity and problem-solving capacity.
While a growing group of tech leaders define digital workers as software-based labor, the concept’s application varies somewhat from one business or industry to the next. In general, however, these revolutionary workers are capable of independently carrying out complex tasks that once required human input. Their abilities go beyond the robotic process automation (RPA) that previously dominated the market. When properly programmed and deployed, they can autonomously perform a variety of jobs that feature several moving parts.
Prior to the development of automation digital workers, many employers looked to simpler automation tools to improve accuracy, productivity, and general workflow. These tools, while useful, ultimately proved limited in their applications. Their abilities were largely disconnected, so they could only take on tasks of minimal complexity. That has all changed, however. New digital workers link previously separate skills and concepts to achieve a seamless workflow.
To succeed, today’s automation digital workers must possess multiple skills that can be utilized concurrently. While typically thought of as a human quality, a skill simply represents the effective application of basic capabilities to job tasks. When combined, these skills allow digital workers to carry out a variety of essentials.
Job titles already attributed to automated workers include digital talent recruiter and digital accounts payable clerk. These and other digital workers are capable of reading emails, producing invoices, and performing a variety of other mundane, time-consuming tasks.
What Are the Benefits of Automation Digital Workers?
When strategically developed and deployed, digital workers can transform entire industries. Their value cannot be denied in a market that calls for maximum productivity and innovation. The following are just a few of the many benefits they provide in the modern workforce:
Humans may beat out computers in terms of creativity and critical thinking, but they clearly fall behind with manual processes. Their productivity can be hampered not only by physical limitations, but also by sheer boredom. Humans crave a level of challenge and stimulation that many tasks simply cannot deliver. Digital workers, however, do not need such qualities to complete important tasks. Their built-in efficiency can lead to significant savings while providing a clear competitive edge.
By increasing productivity, digital workers allow their human counterparts to stop worrying about keeping up with tasks that would otherwise occupy far too much of their time and effort. As a result, humans can shift their focus to the creative endeavors that are most likely to carry their respective businesses forward. The more effort and attention these employees dedicate towards exciting new concepts, the more likely they are to come up with groundbreaking ideas.
No matter how competent, human workers are prone to error. These problems can range from simple typos to major miscalculations. Even seemingly small mistakes can ultimately prove devastating. Hence, the need for digital workers to assist with the repetitive tasks in which conventional employees are most prone to messing up. Equipped with digital workers, business and IT leaders can take solace in knowing that critical tasks will be carried out to perfection every time.
Addressing Skill Gaps
As the pace of technological change continues to increase, humans are finding it difficult to keep up. This has produced a significant skills gap, in which human employees cannot be trained fast enough to take on suddenly available opportunities. Such gaps lead to lost opportunities and significant reductions in productivity. Automation digital workers deliver a powerful solution that allows humans to focus on the big picture.
How Do Automation Digital Workers Relate to Hyper Automation?
Highlighted by Gartner as the top strategic technology trend of 2020, hyper automation represents a valuable combination of RPA, machine learning, intelligent business process management suites (iBPMS), and several other revolutionary concepts and processes. Under a hyper automated approach, these technologies come together to streamline workflows through automation. Currently, this system is largely called upon to align business and IT, which have previously suffered a productivity-harming divide.
Digital workers provide the labor needed to make hyper automated systems effective. These tech-based workers can connect to a variety of business applications to collect and analyze metrics as needed — and to use ensuing findings to make data-driven decisions.
How Can Businesses Acquire Automation Digital Workers?
If there’s a downside to employing automation digital workers, it’s that they cannot be deployed as easily as the bots relied on for RPA solutions. Rather, digital workers must be carefully constructed to meet the unique needs of the organizations they serve.
Companies go to great lengths to attract and acquire human employees with the unique sets of skills most likely to provide long-term value — and the same is true of automation digital workers. In both scenarios, the initial effort ultimately proves worthwhile.
Depending on the business and industry, digital workers may be tailor-made for a particular company or sought from specific providers as a service. Outsourced digital workers sometimes serve the same function for a variety of departments or companies. Either approach can be valuable; a lot depends on a given organization’s priorities and budget.
How Will Automation Digital Workers Shape the Future Workplace?
Automation digital workers have already left an indelible impact on the workplace, but their influence is just beginning. In the future, digital workers will be capable of taking on increasingly complex tasks — and executing them with impressive precision and speed. They will be relied upon to a far greater extent than even the RPA that are used so prominently today.
An IDC survey of over 500 top-level decision-makers reveals that most expect the role of automation digital worker to increase by 50 percent as soon as 2021. At that point, the collaboration between human and machine will largely be regarded as the new normal.
The digital workers of tomorrow will not, as skeptics fear, present an either-or proposition in terms of employing humans. Rather, they will free up traditional workers to pursue more creative and less monotonous endeavors. Increasingly, digital workers will be deployed alongside humans in specialized teams. Their varying abilities will complement each other to produce better results than either could hope to generate alone.
The ingenious combination of digital workers and human employees will create an enviable work environment that benefits both employers and employees. The result? A win-win solution in which employers enjoy increased productivity and employees are able to pursue mentally stimulating and highly fulfilling work.
Digital workers represent a huge area of potential for companies across a broad range of industries. These strategic solutions provide an exciting opportunity to amp up productivity while also making the most of valuable human employees. This step forward in business process automation could make all the difference for organizations seeking an edge in a competitive market.