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RPA is important, but not as important as people

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and other intelligent automation technologies are increasing in popularity with businesses as they look to leverage competitive advantage during this uncertain time. However, having a people-centric approach continues to be a critical advantage.

This is the key finding of UiPath’s new study The Future of Work: A Pandemic Spotlight, which was conducted by Forrester Consulting.

The results of the survey showed that the pandemic has expedited digital transformations and created an increase in automation investment.

The world has seen more digital transformation in the past few months than in the preceding five years, the UiPath finds. Intelligent automation technologies, including RPA, are supporting and accelerating this surge, according to the study.

With 48% of survey respondents planning to increase RPA spend over the next year, companies are using RPA in a variety of ways.

Most notably, it is being used to increase agility, diversity, and resilience in their supply chain operations (83%); address extraordinary cost pressures by automating back-office and operational tasks (80%); and support remote workforces (75%).

Recent months have also elevated the need for a people-centric workforce, the study finds. Automation is required to tackle post-pandemic economic challenges but requires an employee-sensitive approach.

In fact, 57% of respondents say their employees are moderately or very anxious regarding their ability to succeed in their jobs due to automation and pandemic-related stress.

As a result, UiPath states it is crucial for businesses to provide automation reskilling and upskilling opportunities so employees have the skills needed to maximise the potential of automation investments.

The study finds that 60% of decision makers agree that providing workplace certifications for transferable digital and machine skills helps their employees cope with the potential effects of automation and prepares them for the future of work.

Organisations must develop a post-pandemic employee experience by offering education opportunities and monitoring employee health, UiPath states.

UiPath Learning SVP Tom Clancy says, “The pandemic has turned the world upside down, and the shock has greatly accelerated businesses march toward the future of work. Automation has emerged as an invaluable asset for organisations to embrace this changing way of work. The time to automate is now.

“Now more than ever, digital skillsets are necessary. To enhance retention and produce productivity, its employers responsibilities to offer digital training specifically automation training as part of career development initiatives.”

Throughout May 2020 Forrester conducted an online survey of 160 process automation decision-makers from operations groups, shared services, finance, and other lines of business in organisations spanning France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US.