For the past 10 years, there has been robust efforts and material strides forward in computing and artificial intelligence and the lesser known but perhaps as important TaskBots, or automation bots. In the past year, one can barely turn around without encountering either a voice assistant answering a number you call or a chat you initiate. What we don’t see making huge waves in the workplace is the deployment of artificial intelligence software that can perform work and automate routine tasks.
An example includes: An employee works for an order fulfillment company. The employee logs into a website to download a report every morning. The employee looks through hundreds of orders from the previous day for any order that was “flagged” as not correctly flowing into the order fulfillment system. When found, the employee is tasked with deleting the original order and re-entering the information into the fulfillment system. But to detect the flagged orders, this individual scrolls through more than 50 pages of correctly processed transactions to find the handful of anomalies.
In this new TaskBot world, a TaskBot is scheduled to log into that website (and yes, can even use multifactor authentication), run the report and scan the report for the flagged accounts. At that point, the bot deletes the original order, re-enters the order into the correct system, documents the actions taken and sends an email to the employee stating the report was worked, noting the changes made and noting that the original and corrected order file was stored in a database for future reference. All of this is accomplished with an automated workflow TaskBots.
The example above is one simple means to explain the power of using TaskBots and AI to fundamentally improve office productivity, allowing employees to spend their time on items that offer the firm greater ROI than reviewing a basic report. This type of automation is not the future, it is the present.
Respected consulting firm McKinsey estimates that “around 50% of current workforce activities could be automated with already proven technology. Further, 10% of jobs could be automated at a rate above 90%.”
This type of automation is not necessarily being driven solely by a desire for cost efficiency. There are a lot of factors at play:
- Automation allows employees to spend time on more productive customer interactions.
- Automation enables customers to gain access to the data they want 24/7/365 with automated call systems and AI chatbot.
- Automation in many areas is being driven by a labor shortage. Automation must play a role in the greater employment supply and demand equation.
- Automation enables companies to combat inflationary pressures. While costs increase, automation allows firms to transfer savings in one area to offset exploding costs in another without disrupting the pricing model.
- Finally, automation in many cases (especially with TaskBots) has a near perfect record of performance when programmed effectively. Reduced errors lead to better customer experience.
And, yes, one would be remiss for failing to note the ability to effectively leverage AI and TaskBots to save money and help improve operating efficiency. It might not be the driving force behind the decision, but there is not a company in existence that would not benefit from a best-in-class operational efficiency model.
So, as you attend conferences and see vendor booths selling AI systems and TaskBots, take a few minutes to slow down and digest how this product or service could favorably impact your organization. These systems are not right for every company and every task, but as the data suggests, there is a lot of efficiency to be gained in general — somewhere just north or south of 50%.
And that alone should cause each of us as leaders to pause and explore these opportunities.