Our customers lead us forward.
We’ve spoken to many customers about how their automation programs have progressed, and we’ve learned so much about what automation can mean and what it can become. This learning culminates in the fully automated enterprise™, a model that compiles our customers’ learnings in finding the perfect balance between people and software robots.
For our recent broadcast event UiPath Live: The Fully Automated Enterprise™, we turned again to our customers to learn more about what the fully automated enterprise looks like in real life and how other companies can emulate that success. Our guests spoke to the transformative potential of automation––both the potential that some companies have realized and the potential that is yet to be tapped.
Don’t worry if you missed UiPath Live. In this article, we’ll walk through four exciting takeaways from the event you can implement in your own organization.
During UiPath Live, Ravin Jesuthasan—futurist, author, and Senior Partner and Global Leader for Transformation Services at Mercer––shared that he had been “really frustrated with these binary narratives about the impact of AI and robotic process automation (RPA) and automation on work.”
Between narratives of dystopia and utopia, Jesuthasan said, “reality is probably going to be far more nuanced.” That frustration was what inspired Jesuthasan and his co-author, Senior Research Scientist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California, John Boudreau, to write Reinventing Jobs: A 4-Step Approach for Applying Automation to Work.
They wanted to demystify how automation actually enters the enterprise.
Jesuthasan said that we’re heading into the fourth industrial revolution and one of its central effects will be the democratization of automation. It will only come about, Jesuthasan warned, from “understanding how you digitize and how you automate.”
One strategy is to automate an entire job, but Jesuthasan said that tactic is both impractical and undesirable. “It’s really important to get beyond the job or beyond the headline workflow,” Jesuthasan argued. “Get into the component tasks.”
It is important to understand the automation compatibility of the component tasks; are the tasks repetitive or variable? Are they performed independently or interactively? It is only when you've fully evaluated tasks that you can understand the potential role of automation.
Once you understand the automation compatibility and the particular output you are looking to achieve with a given task, you see clearly how different types of automation (robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, etc.) will either substitute, augment, or create human work.
“Automation can really transform some of the work,” Jesuthasan said, “and allow the human experience to be elevated.”
Change management is on the mind of every enterprise leader. Automation and AI are often exciting to business leaders but intimidating to employees. The myth that automation is here to replace jobs—propagated by many a science fiction movie—won’t disappear overnight.
The key to authentic employee engagement, according to UiPath Vice President (VP) of Product Marketing Diego Lomanto, is to give employees hands-on time with automation. The benefits of this hands-on time are many, but two leading benefits demonstrate how engagement can lead to innovation.
An attended automation will ask employees, for example, to verify the steps in a process or kick off a process. As employees use automation through something like UiPath Assistant, they start to understand automation better.
“When you just tell people automation is coming and you’re going to have some part of your job automated,” Lomanto warned, “it’s going to be scary for people.” Employees get familiar once they realize no one is threatening their jobs, and they get excited once they realize software robots can handle the parts of the job they dislike.
Once employees are familiar with automation, they will also begin to realize the potential of automation.
When employees see automation in action, they will start submitting automation ideas to the center of excellence (CoE) that the CoE can approve, implement, and redistribute to the rest of the company.
Lomanto highlighted a conversation he had with a chief information officer (CIO), who told him employees were scared at first, but “by the end of the first week, where [they] rolled out [their] first automation, [the CIO] had 47 suggestions in [his] inbox for new ideas.” Eventually, some employees will become citizen developers and start building software robots themselves.
The automation flywheel, which describes the way leading automation companies generate automation ideas, tends to start with a top-down CoE. But the flywheel spins with the efforts of bottom-up business users.
The flow is best represented by a cycle that charts the build up of momentum from CoE-led automation to employee-led automation.
Eventually, the feedback loop between a company’s CoE and its employees becomes so strong that it leads to a breakthrough moment.
These points resonated with the UiPath Live audience, one of whom tweeted their own takeaway, that the key to automation involves getting employees “thinking about how those robots can advance your job & impact.”
My big takeaway's from this well-produced webinar is the key to automation is overcoming an employee's fear of losing their job, to thinking about how those robots can advance your job & impact. https://t.co/fj6r7hNK3b
— Kevin Nakao (@knakao) March 24, 2021
According to UiPath research, almost half of office workers are concerned they won’t have a job in five years because of outdated skills. That result isn’t because of a lack of curiosity or drive, however––86% wish their employer offered opportunities to acquire new skills and 83% wish their employee offered opportunities to enhance their existing skills.
Unfortunately, as Kevin Kroen, Intelligent Automation Leader Partner at PwC, presented during UiPath Live, confidence in upskilling is not high. Kroen cited a PwC survey, which reported that 74% of CEOs are “concerned about the availability of key skills.” Partially in response to this data, PwC made a commitment that other companies should follow: “If you want to lean in,” Kroen said, “we will get the training for you.”
This commitment emerged as PwC thought through the challenges of digital transformation. While PwC could invest in platforms like Salesforce and Workday to digitize central systems, client services work remained a challenge.
Client services, which previously involved providing people power, had to shift to providing people and technology. PwC had to reinvent how they delivered work, so they could deliver more value with fewer resources. The key? Automation. The challenge? A top-down approach wouldn’t work.
“We knew upfront that if we did this from a top-down perspective, we’d be at it for 100 years,” Kroen said. This led to their Your Tomorrow program, which aimed to upskill employees such that PwC could deliver customers better value and better insights in a digitally enabled manner at a lower cost.
PwC focused on two forms of upskilling for its 55,000 employees:
Improve baseline knowledge on all things digital, including RPA. They wanted to give people “the ability,” Kroen said, “to know when technology could help solve a problem.”
Offer hands-on experience with using new tools. PwC made the UiPath Platform available to its workforce in its entirety while giving employees the appropriate training to use it.
Through upskilling, PwC could, in Kroen’s words, “change people’s thoughts on what their career could look like long term.” Whether they stayed at PwC or not, the company wanted to give its employees skills that would enable them to thrive in the future.
We needed to make
Kevin Kroen, Intelligent Automation Leader Partner, PwC
The results were nothing short of transformative. Not only were employees able to suggest and build new task automations, but the top-down leaders were able to leverage bottom-up insights to build complex, cognitive automations that addressed real pain points. Upskilling was essential for making the automation flywheel spin.
UiPath shares the PwC vision for upskilling. UiPath Academy offers a range of free courses to help you learn about automation and put automation to use in your daily work (yes, even if you're not a developer). There's even an Academy course on designing RPA training to help upskill your employees.
During the UiPath Live event, Bhavana Mathur, VP of Product Management at UiPath, emphasized that there’s a “vast proliferation” of processes that enterprises perform. Among that proliferation, there’s immense variety in how people perform those processes. And among that variety, there are also many processes and performances that are imperfect.
Enter process mining and task mining.
Via two short demos, Mathur demonstrated how process mining and task mining together can help companies find automation opportunities they may never have been able to discover otherwise.
“AI [artificial intelligence], for us, is about helping our customers figure out where robots can help people best and defining what people should be doing,” said Mathur.
Process mining helps you visualize end-to-end processes and identify bottlenecks. From there, you can use task mining to identify where in the workflow those bottlenecks are occurring. And within UiPath Automation Hub, you can track and prioritize process improvements and manage your automation pipeline.
AI is the key to what PD Singh, Head of AI Products at UiPath, called “full-service automation.” With AI, automation can handle increasingly complex use cases. Robotic process automation (RPA) is perfect for simple, rule-based processes but with AI, you can automate processes that have uncertain inputs and outputs.
Singh brought up two examples: inventory forecasting and mass hiring. Both are highly variable and that variability makes AI a precondition to automation. With AI, automation then becomes accessible to a wider range of industries.
“We’ve seen customers in healthcare, retail, and financial services,” Singh said, “doing everything from, in healthcare, readmission prediction to patient receivable management, in retail, everything from inventory management to price optimization, in financial services, everything from fraud detection to know your customer (KYC).”
With AI, you can apply automation across vertical industries and across horizontal use cases, Singh said. AI both enables use cases that wouldn’t be possible otherwise and helps you perfect implementations you already have.
“Our customers have different personas performing different processes,” Mathur said, but with the UiPath Platform, they can “define and implement that ideal automated process.”
When we write and present about the fully automated enterprise, we’re not presenting a fantasy dreamt up by marketers— this recent UiPath Live broadcast gave us an opportunity to feature the work our customers have already done towards that goal. The fully automated enterprise already exists. And there’s an opportunity to learn by example and embrace innovation throughout your company.
If you missed the event—and all the expert insights on becoming a fully automated enterprise—you can catch up with full recordings of UiPath Live: The Fully Automated Enterprise™.
Use the link below to access the recordings. As a bonus, you'll also receive our e-book outlining four steps for achieving real digital transformation: