HR and the Digital Workforce

Written by Martin Atherton in Stories from the front lines on January 18, 2018
HR and the Digital Workforce

Is HR missing out? Our recent webinar with EY and ANZ Bank suggested it might be

During a recent webinar, Ernst & Young’s Sunil Mehta and Deepak Swaroop, Automation Anywhere’s Rob Hughes, and the orchestrator of the world’s largest robotic process automation (RPA) installation, Viji Varghese of ANZ Bank, talked to HR professionals about the tremendous opportunities for automation, using Viji’s experience at ANZ as a case in point.

The message for anyone in HR was very clear: “Take it from someone who’s been there. Your business is ready for automation.”

Yet results from the webinar’s in-session polls suggested the audience wasn’t.

  • Nearly two thirds didn’t think they were ready or didn’t know where to start if they were.
  • Just over half didn’t know who was looking at an automation strategy for HR.

Viji’s talk about ANZ’s well governed approach - deploying 40 bots a week—reminded us that RPA can be applied broadly throughout the enterprise. His RPA programme touches 85% of ANZ’s processes, and ANZ really does redeploy staff freed up by automation to work on more interesting and strategic work. Details on the ANZ story is well documented here and here.

But one question asked during the webinar (“Is there any risk in removing [through automation] those early career-development opportunities that repetitive tasks can represent?”) illustrated that many HR professionals have a “right-but-wrong” mindset about the deployment of a Digital Workforce and what that means for employees. Right, in the duty of care for employees that HR departments are tasked with. Wrong in the sense of not really understanding the impact the technology can have on the human workforce (much of which, I fear, is being driven by sensational journalism with little to no research).

The nature of work is changing. That’s a fact. Businesses are not going to maintain operational inertia just to give kids somewhere to start their careers. Tomorrow’s AP clerks will not be processing invoices, they will be managing robots that do and analysing the findings.

The implications and challenge for HR lies in the breath-taking rate of this change. Our deployment of the Digital Workforce to execute lower value, repetitive work is happening faster than we can evolve the education system to meet emerging skills gaps. Because of this, it is critical for talent acquisition professionals in HR to get down to the task of finding the right people to meet fast developing needs and plan for a near a future where digital operations allows employees to utilize their brains rather than punch more buttons.

What better way to position your brand to the next generation of employees—digital natives one and all—and to have human professionals look them in the eyes and get to know them because they have time to. And let the bots do the rest.

To repeat Viji’s simple message: Your business is ready.

If you want to know more about Automation Anywhere, click here, and here to access EYs AI landing page. You can access a replay of the webinar here, too.