Robots Are Doing It For Themselves

Written by Gareth Fleming.

As an avid watcher of anything Sci-fi related I am well used to a certain vision of the future. Where robots are either our faithful servants there to cater for the menial tasks we no longer want to do or they are busy becoming self-aware and in turn trying to put an end to the human race once and for all.

Depending on how you define the word “robot” the former isn’t a long way off. I’m not suggesting that next year you will have a robot physically present in your office. The robot I am talking about is software or as its now becoming more commonly known as RPA and it available now, but what is it:

Well, as I said, it’s a software, but a software that emulates human action. RPA automates for you simple tasks such as opening emails, extracting files, taking data from a database and putting it onto a spreadsheet, basically most tasks that can be easily documented and then automated.

This may sound like brand new tech but a lot of us have actually used (even written) basic RPA code before. If you have ever had a word corrected by Autocorrect you have experienced RPA, if you have ever used a macro to automate something then well done, you have been an RPA coder.

It’s been around for a long time, however, the tech behind it now is just much faster, less invasive and easier to use. It has a nice GUI, you don’t need to switch in or out of different systems, it’s a layer on top of your current tech ecosystem. Zero fuss.

It’s not “artificial intelligence” although its heading that way. For RPA to be successful it needs to operate within a certain set of rules designed by you, the better the rules, the better it works. Some clients of mine, at the forefront of this, are beginning to build in machine learning / deep learning logic which could see RPA achieve something close to AI, being able to design its own tasks and advising its human user on how to proceed next or on what action to take or what rule to create.

This could cut the repetitive boring tasks out of our everyday work, giving us more time to do what humans do best, interact, network, communicate, analyse, discuss. Boredom accounts for staff turnover in a lot of workplaces around this country, think about our shared service centre culture, massive call centres full of hundreds of people all doing the same repetitive tasks daily.  RPA could be used in some cases to remove the more monotonous tasks and allow people to perform those parts of the job they find more satisfying.

Does this mean however cutting staff numbers and replacing them with automation? History says yes. The more complex parts of an assembly lines are typically no longer manned by humans, the work is done by Robots, could RPA result in the more administrative areas of industry being automated resulting in job losses?

Well again yes, of course it could. However, according to Martin Weiss, employed by global firm EY and a thought leader in this space, maybe it doesn’t have to, maybe we should embrace RPA and turn it to our advantage: “We see a trend that you could utilise these people in exception-handling teams, There is no 100 per cent zero-error robot. There is always a business case you haven’t thought of when you create the rules. We advise our clients to take the benefits out of RPA and invest in their people. You upskill people in Ireland and train them to do automation themselves and concentrate on more value-added tasks: creating reports, writing analytical comments,” says Weiss. “It’s really an interpretation, human judgment. This you can’t automate”.

RPA will, I’m sure, be a huge global trend for years to come. Hiring trends in this space in Ireland are showing massive growth and demand for skilled people. If you would like to discuss your RPA requirements, your desire to work in this space or indeed RPA in general, contact Gareth on 01 874 6770.

Gareth Fleming
Director - Technology
T: 01 874 6770