RecommendationsHow can organizations ready themselves for augmentation and guarantee the maximum return on technology investment?
Despite the strong consensus that augmented organizations performed better and sustained more human workplaces, only 32% of respondents said their organization used RPA- and AI-based augmentation to its full potential.While this is a loss for industry as a whole, it is a great opportunity for those companies ready and willing to commit to augmentation now.
Based on our survey findings, our interviews with subject-matter experts and our review of the academic literature, the project team has formulated three core recommendations. These are things companies can and should do now, to get ready for and begin the process of augmentation in a way that will give them a competitive advantage.
1. Codify your company’s ethics
For many years, Google’s motto was famously “do no evil”. This simple formulation impacted how the company conducted work in areas such as user-interface design and the writing of algorithms which chose which search results to highlight.
What ethical principles guide your company’s actions? Because we intuitively know right from wrong, we often don’t bother to codify our company’s ethical code. Or if we do, the codification concentrates on the regulated front-line area of the business.
But codification can have a far greater positive impact if it’s applied to the whole enterprise. Start with a basic premise, such as “do no evil”. Then, sitting with a company org chart, for each area of your organization write a few sentences explaining how this foundational ethical principle applies to employees, suppliers and customers.
Keep each section short; ideally no more than a paragraph or two. Write in plain language that everyone in your company will understand. Once the document is complete, circulate it for feedback among all employees. Where you can, include this feedback in the final document.
Once your code of ethics is complete, introduce it across the enterprise. Explain how it will inform the way employees work with each other and with third-parties. The document is a tool for everyone in your company to use in creating an open culture built on an ethical and behavioral consensus that fosters a high level of engagement in all employees.
2. Audit key workstreams
Often, we’re so familiar with what we do every day at work that we find it difficult to articulate step-by-step what any given part of our job actually entails. Some parts of the process are so familiar that we take them for granted. Occasionally, we may notice this as we prepare a training for a new employee. But for the most part, everyone just gets on with what they are doing.
Conducting a workflow and process audit finds and makes concrete all of these unconscious assumptions and tasks that are successfully completed day in, day out mainly thanks to your company’s collective muscle memory. Cataloging these makes them available to analysis and optimization.
Even before augmentation, the process of auditing, articulating and documenting key processes, and the knowledge that underlies them, creates many opportunities for optimization. It gives you the opportunity to institutionalize previously implicit knowledge, improving company resilience in the face of change. It may help identify key workers and star performers. And it sets the stage for successful augmentation.
3. Choose areas for augmentation
Having audited your workstreams, identify those areas in which employees are performing repetitive tasks, the inputs and outputs of which follow predictable patterns. These are the tasks which are most open to augmentation.
Work with key stakeholders and trusted experts, including external partners where appropriate, to capture, record and analyze each step of these processes, with an eye to automating where it will be beneficial.
Your goal is to optimize the workflow in a way that allows these steps to be automated using AI or RPA and in a way that not only enhances efficiency but is also sympathetic with the working styles and routines of the human employees who will work alongside the augmentation technology in this workflow.
Once this process is complete, work with your technology partners to capture and automate the relevant steps in the work process. Task them to help you collect data on the effectiveness of the augmented workflow, stage by stage. This data, and the initial experience of augmentation, will give your company the background, skill and knowledge it needs to embrace augmentation across the enterprise as a way of achieving hyper productivity.
“Think of the human body breathing. It’s a complex and critical mechanism, but automated, so our brains are freed to power everything else we do. I think for many organizations, all they can do is breathe. It’s so important, it’s all the employees can focus on. But when that breathing is automated within the organization, then employees can focus on so many strategic issues and opportunities.”
Mihir Shukla, CEO, Automation Anywhere