Will your job be replaced by a machine? As automation becomes increasingly adopted, this question continues to be top of mind for both a changing society and a changing workplace.
The future of automation intersects politics, economics, and workers’ day-to-day routines. Given the prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) in software, it’s clear that automation continues to pervade our work lives.
What is Business Process Automation?
Simply put, business process automation (BPA) is an organizational strategy that transforms manual processes into automated processes.
A good analogy: a manual business process is like printing out an invoice, matching it with a purchase order and sending it around the office for approval. The task requires many long, laborious steps. Plus, it can be difficult to track.
In contrast, an automated business process can:
- Automatically match an incoming invoice to a purchase order in the system
- Route all necessary information to the appropriate approvers
- Notify the right people at the right times
It’s a seamless activity that requires little thought once you set up the workflow.
The purpose of business process automation is to save resources for the organization—resources like money, time and manpower. Eliminating manual processes can reduce the volume of paperwork, save employees’ time and help organizations be more efficient.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Powers Advanced Business Process Automation
Ideally, business process automation streamlines a specific workflow or business function. Common applications of business process automation are employee onboarding, accounts payable processing and IT tickets.
Robotic Process Automation is a technology based on the concept of having software robots replicate the actions of a human being interacting with a computer system. These “robots” use artificial intelligence to mimic the actions that human worker would take. Predictive analytics comprises a range of statistical techniques to analyze current and historical data to make predictions about unknown future events.
Predictive analytics and robotic process automation largely power advanced business process automation. Artificial intelligence drives the process by supplementing human labor, while BPA provides the workflow infrastructure by seamlessly weaving together the steps of the process.
The Unknown Future of Automation
Automation works to streamline workflows that are full of repetitive, manual tasks. Certain types of tasks don’t easily integrate into an automated workflow. This is particularly true in the realm of social behavior and creativity, traits that are essential to every business.
However, research suggests that 47 percent of jobs will be replaced by some type of automation within the next 20 years. Independent of the rate of technology advancements, a few factors make the future of automation in the workplace even more complex and uncertain:
- Technology disruptors: Future game changers that will shake up how we do things (examples from history: the internet, use of mobile devices)
- People: Cultural reluctance to embrace artificial intelligence
- Politics: Laws and regulations that hold back or incentivize the spread of BPA and RPA
Automation will continue to impact professional life; it’s incredible to imagine how machine learning will evolve. Automation already has a partial impact on our day-to-day work, boosting our productivity for select tasks. These productivity gains are realized through increased output, accuracy, safety, speed and quality of work.
Opportunity via BPA
Businesses have ample opportunity to integrate automation into their processes, using current technology to unlock greater efficiency. While there’s no consensus on the direction that automation will take in the long-term, business process automation is here to stay.
To learn how to leverage business process automation to make your work more productive: