I know it. You know it. It’s the question on the tip of everyone’s tongue the minute someone mentions robotic process automation:
“Is a robot going to steal my job?”
It’s understandable. After all, what we’re talking about is software that mimics physical tasks performed by humans. But like so much else in life, it’s the details that matter. When you dig a little deeper, you find two core truths about RPA that really limit its ability to displace the human workforce:
- While some job losses are likely unavoidable, estimates indicate that less than 5% of all occupations can be automated entirely based on current technology.
- RPA bots are ill-suited for anything but low-skill, repetitive tasks.
Rather than replacing humans outright then, RPA is augmenting humans and changing the kind of work that we do.
Taking the Robot out of the Human
Given that RPA bots are least intelligent in the cognitive spectrum and not capable of knowledge, learning or improvement, automation is limited to simple, rule-based tasks.
As it happens, high-volume/low-skill, repetitive tasks are not humanity’s forte. In addition to being prone to errors, humans also often find this type of work tedious and boring. But where robots fail, humans thrive. By taking over repetitive, routine work, bots increase the amount of time humans can devote to tasks that require creativity, accountability and empathy. These areas of strength also typically correspond to work of higher value and ROI. In that way, bots can augment humans to increase their effectiveness and efficiency.
What about ROI? And Competitive Advantages? And AI…
As is often the case with emerging technologies, the advance of RPA coincides with plenty of hype and more than a few additional myths to go around. Check back for the next post in this series on the top myths around RPA to learn more about what’s fact, what’s fiction and how to get started.
Don’t feel like waiting? Download my latest eBook, Busting the Myths About RPA, to get the scoop on all of the biggest myths in RPA right now!