Robot Revolution: Disrupting the Workplace as We Know It

Opinion

We’re on the brink of the Third Industrial Revolution, with robots moving off the factory floor and emerging in the white-collar office.

These “software robots” are being leveraged by businesses across industries to tackle rules-based processes and improve overall operational agility. Operational roles are well-suited for automatons since they, by definition, automatically follow and execute predetermined job sequences. As such, they offer enterprises a scalable, efficient, and precise option for digital back-office labor: a virtual workforce.

These advantages, plus cost and security benefits, are capturing the attention of technologists and business executives across the globe—putting software robots on the front lines of what could become the “Office 2.0.”

Prepare for a Virtual Workforce

As robots become more commonplace in offices, we’re seeing new varieties that best fit the needs of particular roles. While hardware robots have been able to successfully carry out responsibilities required by factories, software robots are proving valuable in office environments.

Software robots mimic humans but live in the cloud or in the data center. They can be thought of as a virtual workforce, the ethereal cousins to their mechanical counterparts—driving applications through the user interface to enter and retrieve information, and following business rules to execute processes. Managers can configure software robots to drive any application (in house or Web)—without code. And unlike traditional computer software, they teach the machines how to complete core operations.

The Robo-Worker

Because software robots are taught, rather than programmed, they operate similarly to how a new human employee might. In fact, some companies have even assigned their robots names and identities based on their training and key functions.

The virtual workforce of software robots is an on-demand digital staff that can be called into action to complete a process at any hour of any day. The robot is triggered through monitoring a workflow queue or when a customer enters a request in a portal.  Any electronic trigger can start a software robot, which instantly becomes an expert in the particular process that has been previously configured. The software robot is then stored and managed in a central repository.

For example, consider a request that comes through a bank’s website to set up a second credit card. The software robot scheduler listens for the trigger and then identifies which process is needed from the central library to complete that task. The correct process to issue the card is then loaded into a software robot (the run-time component of the virtual workforce), as is the knowledge of the various applications the robot needs to complete the task. As a result, the software robot knows how to drive the various applications to complete the process. It executes the task and reports back to the scheduler to confirm that it has finished its task. It can then be put back into the robot pool to complete another procedure. The robot is designed to “intelligently execute” the transaction—thereby automatically dealing with underlying system changes and application performance.

In addition to delegating key admin processes to software robots, the ability to monitor and review robotic processes is … Next Page »

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Alastair Bathgate is the CEO and co-founder of Blue Prism. Follow @tiptoptaps

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  • HWF

    More robots equals less jobs for humans. New jobs will not be created since the owners of companies will enjoy reduced costs and want to keep it that way. To the writer who wrote this piece consider that you will be replaced as well – why pay a human to write articles – get a computer – this is already happening.