Meeting objections: How enterprise CIOs can overcome doubts about Robotic Process Automation

For years, there’s been talk of robots infiltrating the workforce and eliminating human jobs. Now, it’s finally happening, but not in the way that most people envisioned. Amazon has led the charge by using 45,000 robots at its shipping and distribution facilities, but soon consumers may also see more robots cruising the aisles of well-known brands like Lowe’s and Target. While the idea of robotics may sound overwhelming to both brand and employee, the age of robotics is robust with one thing for the enterprise CIO: opportunity.

For many companies, digital transformation is at the heart of every strategy, and software robotics is becoming critical for brands to streamline processes, automate, and stay competitive. However, according to PwC, 41 percent of manufacturing companies are hesitant to adopt robotics technology. These companies feel that robotics isn’t cost-effective, there are insufficient resources and expertise to deploy these types of solutions, that any implementation will lower morale due to worker displacement, or that there simply isn’t the need for this type of technology. This epidemic isn’t just limited to manufacturing: many companies are dismissing software robotics for these very same reasons.

As with any shift, many companies simply choose to stay mired in existing policies, but this resistance is creating a massive opening for enterprise CIOs who are willing to take the leap. When done right, CIOs can implement the right robotics technologies to stay ahead of competitors, quell the fears and reap the benefit of automation and process improvement.

Here are four ways that CIOs can overcome objections to experience the real benefits of process automation robotics solutions.

Robotics Isn’t Cost-Effective

Often, brands are hesitant to make software investments and process changes, especially when the current processes are working "just fine." But, between rising labor costs and increasing employee turnover, companies must take a hard look at automation strategies. For the CIO, that means evaluating the cost-effectiveness of robotics solutions relative to human counterparts. However, the benefits will outweigh the expense, and those benefits may come faster than CIOs would expect.

For some brands, that return on robotics investments has come in as little as 12 months. With software robotics, brands can automate repetitive processes across the organization, and these automation tools can perform these tasks quickly and more accurately than their human counterparts. Not only does this free humans up to be more productive, brands save money. Labor and productivity aside, it’s important to implement robotics with a specific goal in mind because, without the right strategy, a brand will never see the full return on investment.

The Company has Insufficient Resources and Lack of Expertise

Any time new technology is deployed, it’s necessary to fully understand the available solutions in order to allocate resources based on bandwidth and expertise. For example, some robotics technologies require skilled development and maintenance, while others are plug and play models that can expedite process automation with minimal resources. In these instances, simple configurations by the business user are enough to get solutions up and running.

However, as with any robotics implementation, it’s important for CIOs to look at the cumulative benefits. Traditional implementations originate in specific departments, which creates silos of automation but does little to change manual processes across the entire organization. With robotics strategies, brands should coordinate that automation across the entire organization because robots have the power to change everything from a factory floor to accounting methods to customer service. If CIOs look at the overarching benefits of process automation, the organization as a whole will reap the rewards.

Human Workers Will be Displaced

With robotics, it’s easy to envision a sci-fi work world that is completely automated by futuristic looking equipment. But, just like past factory assembly lines, these technologies only have value when combined with skilled human labor. Robotics automation technology can automate manual processes and quickly generate flawless reports, freeing up human workers to use their cognitive judgment about the information robots produce. This will allow employees to be more innovative and creative to better serve customers, giving them the opportunity to be more important to the organization.

Of course, it is possible that human jobs will be disrupted by the arrival of new robotics technologies, and some workers may be left without a job, but by refocusing the employment lens and finding new ways to train and engage workers, CIOs can lead the charge to augment the roles of human team members. In fact, employees who feel valued, engaged, and talented in their work over long periods of time are up to 35 percent more productive than their counterparts.

There Simply isn’t the Need for this Type of Technology

As with any new technology, finding ways to adopt and derive value from a solution can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean that CIOs should dismiss the potential. After all, when the personal computer emerged in the early 1980s, it was met with mixed reactions ranging from fear to anxiety. Consumers were frightened -- and threatened -- by what they didn’t know. The reactions to robotics have been similar, and many companies are hesitant to adapt because of the uncharted terrain. But, just as computers are now a critical part of every company, in just a few short years, robotics will be the same -- and the brands that are adopting are already realizing the value.

With robotics technologies, CIOs have two choices: they can look for strategic ways to adopt, or they can get left behind. When applied correctly, automation can offer incredible value across the business, but it requires a change in mindset that starts with IT. For CIOs, it’s important to address digital transformation with transparency and education so teams can leave the old mindset behind and embrace the new and exciting changes that are coming.

Photo Credit: Pixelbliss/Shutterstock

As President of Redwood Software, Dennis Walsh is responsible for North America, LATAM and South America as well as Asia Pacific operations. With more than 20 years of experience in the software and computer services industries, he has previously held executive and management positions at SiteLite Corporation, IBM, Ross Systems, Inc. and Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP). Walsh combines his business background and years in the software and services industry with a deep understanding of automation. While at Redwood, he has successfully solved some of the industry’s most challenging IT and business automation issues.

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