Robots will encourage upskilling

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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It might be a while before we have robots to bring us tea – we can but dream – but robotic process automation (RPA) could radically change our work lives. That’s according to Martin Weiss, EY’s robotics leader for the EMEIA region.

In many ways automation has already changed the nature of work. It just depends on how you look at it. If you want to call Jeff in accounts you dial his extension – the automated phone system does the work that used to require a switchboard operator. Let’s say you have a standing appointment on the last Tuesday of every month. You would have had to enter that manually into your diary – or diaries – but these days once you’ve added it to your online calendar once, you can repeat the appointment automatically, with notifications across all your devices.

Software, not robots, is the star of RPA says Weiss.

“There is a great misunderstanding of robotic process automation. It’s not robots, it’s software. The software emulates human actions. In your daily life you open your email, you extract files; if you research, you look at external databases and put it together in a spreadsheet. All these steps we can document and automate with this new technology in place. ”

More automation, less boredom

RPA could remove the repetitive nature of some work – think sending out invoices every month – which could transform our workplaces and make work a lot less boring. Boredom, says Weiss, can result in staff turnover of up to 30 percent. Bored workers are unhappy workers.

If RPA is used to handle monotonous and routine work, it leaves people free to engage in more fulfilling tasks. What’s more, argues Weiss, RPA could mean, he says, “moving people on to more advanced jobs, training and developing their skills. ”

“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. ”


Anne Sexton

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