What a Simple Office Toy Taught Me about Humans
Over the years, I’ve spotted it sitting on office desks around the world. You probably have, too: the little toy bobbing bird. It dips down to take a sip of water, bobs upright, rocks back and forth, then dips down to take another sip.
If you set it up right, it will do this again and again, repeating the same task.
Day in, day out.
It always made me smile, until the day I noticed that many of the people in those offices were doing the exact same thing. Stuck performing the same repetitive work tasks over and over.
Day in, day out.
Then I didn’t find it so cute. In business, we all want the same thing for ourselves and our coworkers: the freedom to take on new challenges, be creative, collaborate, innovate, and achieve more than we thought possible, not to feel like we’re stuck in a repetitive loop.
So when it was time for UiPath to make our first TV commercial, that bird jumped to mind. Our story isn’t the usual one you see from a tech company. We didn’t want the same old glass-walled-office visuals, or talking points about product quality, or speeds and feeds tech-speak. Our message transcends the product—it’s not technology for the sake of technology, it’s about what happens when we unleash the potential in all of us.
I believe it’s an important and timely message, because we’re living through what some call the ‘productivity paradox 2.0’. The idea that despite all the gains in technology since the 1970s, human productivity over the past decade or so is the worst it has been since the late 18th century.
Companies have been making huge investments in technology to make their businesses more efficient, and yet employees work longer hours and feel more stressed than ever. Digital transformation, for all its good intentions, has added complexity rather than removing it.
But why? People have always invented tools to make life simpler, from the plow to the printing press. So, what’s changed? Well, technology is just advancing faster than we can keep up. It has given us more tools than ever, we just can’t use them all at the same time efficiently.
If you think about the software in any company today, you’ll sometimes have hundreds of platforms all running at the same time trying to make our lives easier. But the only way they can work together is either through complex, sophisticated systems’ integrations, or with people constantly there to straddle them, performing thousands of small tasks.
Day in, day out.
That’s not the most efficient use of an employee’s time, and they feel it. Stretched too thin and stuck in a loop, they don’t feel productive, become dissatisfied, and lose motivation. This in turn only makes them less productive. It’s a vicious cycle.
People are capable of so much more when they’re empowered to do what humans do best: tackling the big problems. The human mind is at its most powerful when it concentrates on one big task, not lots of little ones. We’re not designed to keep track of multiple pieces of technology at the same time. I don’t care what anybody says, nobody can multitask that well – try writing an email as you read this article and see how far you get.
Real, meaningful achievements are only possible when people are free from constant distractions. When monotonous tasks disappear, people can focus on higher order problems and that is where the wellspring of innovation is.
So we designed our software robots to take on the mundane tasks for employees because we believe it allows them to do this higher order work. By emulating the way humans carry out simple tasks, our robots can work across all platforms effortlessly for our customers. Normally, we’ll start on a small project and sometimes those customers are wary of automation, but when they see it in action everything changes. When the employees actually feel the technology unburden them, when they have more time to focus on their real job, time to collaborate and time to innovate, they’re delighted.
Listening to our customers is a core value for us, and as we roll this technology out across their organizations, they’re helping us get better. But far more important, we’re hearing that we’re making their lives better, too. And not just for technologists or for the management levels either – across the board, employees are starting to feel like they have the time to achieve more and find real satisfaction in their work.
That’s the story I’m excited to tell today and to share our new television spot. In it, our partners at our agency, Ogilvy, have captured and simply described “what’s in the tin.” It’s running now for people in organizations of all kinds to discover. As we launch this commercial, I’m filled with optimism, as I know from speaking with our customers that UiPath has an answer that will finally work. With the help of that little bird, I’m proud to be spreading that optimism to a larger audience.
Digital transformation is finally about to take off.
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