Recently, Automation Anywhere CEO Mihir Shukla had a chance to catch up with the Wall Street Journal on what’s becoming a hot topic everywhere: robotic process automation in the workplace. This particular article, geared toward CFOs, focused on financial automation and ultimately what a “robotic bookkeeper” looks like for a business.
Here are some key takeaways:
Companies are already using this technology to cut costs
Reporter Vipal Monga notes that big box companies are using robotic process automation and seeing real results: he cites Verizon’s 21% cost reduction in the finance department over the past 3 years, as well as Wolters Kluwer, robotically closing books each quarter in half the time it used to take (formerly 10 days, now 5). Companies that we at Automation Anywhere have worked with in the past see similarly dramatic results. You can read their stories here.
Some jobs become more important as others are automated
Wolters Kluwer employs robots to close the books, but has hired on a number of financial analysts to dig through data related to critical aspects of the business like profits, revenue, and cash flow, and also to direct their attention towards planning and forecasting. Shukla provided his perspective on this—a topic he’s passionate about and has written about previously. The WSJ story quotes:
In the short term, automation does reduce the number of available jobs, said Mihir Shukla, chief executive of Automation Anywhere, Inc. of San Jose, Calif….but in the long run, software can help businesses operate more effectively. ‘If you think like a human there are only certain things you can do. When you think like a robot, many things are possible.’
There are polarized views on robots in the workplace
In the body of the article you see variance in perspectives on the impact of robotic automation. Pilot Travel Centers LLC—a company that spent 3,200 hours manually tracking and paying for orders before automation—speaks more to the changes in FTE staffing. Shukla envisions a partnership between robots and people that allows people to do what they do best (creating, innovating, discovering, brainstorming, etc.) and leaving robots to do the work that is robotic in nature.
If the viewpoints in the article are varied, the commentary is even more so. While there is still a level of fear regarding how increased automation will affect job in the future, there is an almost equal optimism that automation will do what it’s done before—replace some jobs in the short run, but ultimately create higher-paying, more “human” jobs.
One article reader summed it up perfectly with this illustration:
There was a cartoon of two cavemen. One was fashioning a wheel and the other said ‘Great, and what are you going to do with it?’ Progress is created by using less assets to get the same result. Progress also creates redundancy. With a positive attitude and adequate education the young and not so young can learn to adapt.
You can read the original Wall Street Journal article here.