If you ask anyone who has ever been in a relationship to describe what it’s like, the answer is often “it’s complicated.” Relationships of all kinds are complicated, which is why we read one of the thousands of books on the subject or turn to experts in the field for advice. But, what happens when the relationship isn’t with a human, but with a robot?
While a relationship with a robot may sound strange, robots are making their way into every aspect of the business world, and not just on a manufacturing floor. The market for robotic process automation (RPA), or software robots, is exploding and it is poised to be a $1.2-billion-dollar market by 2021. The reason? RPA is transforming our job descriptions, one mundane task at a time. This is saving time, money and sanity. But, just like any relationship, those who put in the effort are the ones who see results.
For a long-term stable relationship with RPA that leads to business prosperity, it’s important to understand goals, build trust and, ultimately, take the leap.
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Determine desirable traits and set long-term goals.
Relationships thrive when there is clear communication and a firm understanding of needs and future goals, and technology implementations are no different. Just like the U.S. divorce rate, more than half of all technology projects fail, leaving many companies skeptical of viability and long-term success. However, for all the relationships that go kaput, many are successful because the right groundwork was laid from the very beginning. Recent increases in IT project success rates are attributed to a renewed focus on delivering long-term benefits from the very beginning rather than the traditional approach of time, cost, and resources.
For companies, that means first identifying areas for improvement and setting strategic goals. Only then is it possible to identify which solution is right for the project scope and then develop a deployment plan. By having strategic objectives in place before a purchase is made, IT leaders can cultivate buy-in, set realistic expectations, and reap the benefits of RPA success. The proof is in the pudding: companies with a high alignment to strategy have 33 percent fewer project failures and are 38 percent more likely to meet project goals.
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Build trust and move forward.
Building trust is a key element in any relationship, but it doesn’t happen overnight. In the beginning, there can be bumps along the way as both partners learn about each other and understand preferences and behaviors. If it’s worth it, they keep going. Organizations deploy robotics for a variety of reasons, primarily for cost savings, accuracy, improved efficiency and timeline optimization, all of which are worthwhile goals that warrant perseverance. According to McKinsey and Company, case studies showed anywhere from a 30 percent up to 200 percent return on investment in the first year, and that doesn’t even include the long-term benefits.
To move beyond the initial stages of the process automation relationship and realize the long-term benefits, organizations must learn to trust in the eventual benefits of the deployment and build the right support system around it.
Often, employees are skeptical that RPA will send them straight to the unemployment line, but that’s really not the case. When done correctly, RPA can not only free employees from mundane and menial tasks, it can empower them to be more productive and strategic, especially as they learn to oversee process automation and shape the future of the organization. With the help of RPA, employees can capitalize on new opportunities and that not only expand the organization, but also the market as a whole.
While Uber did cost traditional taxi drivers about 10 percent of their income, in some cities, it actually increased independent driver opportunities by as much as 50 percent. So, by reworking internal processes, garnering insights from affected employees, and making adjustments along the way, it’s possible to build trust in the RPA process and see return on technology investment.