“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”
This quote by Robert Solow in 1987 highlighted, that for all the supposed advantages of digital technology, in reality productivity was increasing at a slower rate as our technology advanced. And while this trend later disappeared, it has since re-emerged in the 30+ years since.
Despite the ever-increasing importance placed on workplace innovation, productivity is increasing far more slowly, with productivity growth almost uniformly declining since the year 2000.
Wasn’t technology supposed to make us more productive?
It seems as if all the technologies and apps meant to make our lives easier are just competing for our time and distracting us.
The ever-present distractions of personal apps, including social media, internet shopping, and handheld entertainment, are only part of the problem.
Within the workplace, employees have needed to learn a whole new way of working in the digital age. New updates arrive at a frightening speed and leave employees trying to cross reference a variety of divergent technological systems.
Moves such as Microsoft Office’s connected ecosystem of software programs may help to keep employees grounded in familiar settings. But the rise of specialised digital tools, noticeable in the growth of fintech, are a symptom of the ever-broadening digital arsenal employees are expected to wield.
Volumes of data have grown and grown, and so too have the pressures for employees to turn this data into meaningful and actionable objectives. All while notifications ping constantly and demand immediate attention.
Human endeavour has simply struggled to keep pace with technological advances. A productivity lag is common during periods of change, as people need time to adapt. As we are still adapting to the digital revolution, RPA is stepping in to bridge the gap in productivity.
What is RPA and how does it improve productivity?
RPA stands for robotic process automation.
The bots used in RPA can pull data from various systems together, and then present comprehensive insights. RPA gathers, organises, and produces these useful insights from data far faster than humans ever could.
Those already implementing RPA in their businesses certainly seem to be impressed. 86% of respondents indicate that their expectations of productivity improvement from RPA were met or exceeded.
With the implementation of RPA, employees immediately see a reduction in the kind of menial, data processing tasks that drain their time and energy.
Instead, employees have more time available to concentrate on creative, key performance areas,such as customer service, product development, and asset utilisation. And, as employees are able to accomplish more, they experience increased engagement and motivation at work, as well as increased productivity.
The future for RPA
The future for RPA looks bright.
The coronavirus pandemic has seemingly accelerated the interest in RPA and nearly 50% of businesses around the world will increase robotic process automation adoption due to COVID-19.
Using RPA does not require any special technical skills, so it hasn’t been daunting for existing employees to monitor and manage.
However, to fully harness the potential of AI and robotics in the future, businesses may plan to upskill the people who will work alongside the robots.
This kind of automation could open up new career opportunities in programming and training.
Should your business invest in RPA?
An RPA system can complete a task, on average, four times faster than a human worker, as well as enhance process quality and accuracy.
Software robots cost less than a full-time employee, they eliminate human errors (such as tiredness or lack of knowledge) and can lead to faster internal reporting, on-boarding and other activities.
As such, they very quickly deliver an excellent return on investment.
A thriving economy in the digital age requires companies to increase efficiency and productivity—and RPA offers the opportunity to do just that.
RPA has arrived to combat the productivity paradox and finally deliver on the promise of technology making our lives better.