I believe most of us work in jobs that we like. I doubt anybody likes everything that they do. Maybe not even 60% of it.... So basically, I’m saying that there’s a big chunk of tasks that we have to perform that we don’t like and would love to see disappear, and that we suspect isn’t the best use of our time. Sound familiar?
For example, a part of my role is to send thank-you letters to people who attend webinars I deliver. Until recently, I wrote these letters myself and sent them from my personal email account to a distribution list of the attendees. But today, thanks to more advanced technology, these emails are automatically generated and sent from the server directly to attendees via dedicated software. As much as I valued the opportunity to thank people for their time and attention, I’m very glad to now have the follow-up be automated, giving me more time to write blog posts—an activity I enjoy, is of greater value to my company and requires my human judgment, personal skills and creative thinking. (As far as I know, there isn’t a piece of software that has that today.)
The software that now does my thank-you letters is an example of Robotic Process Automation or RPA. RPA solutions can imitate any desktop (computer) activity and usually do it faster than a human would, with no errors. They are becoming more and more popular, especially in back-office departments, where companies are better served having employees focus on tasks that only humans can do.
Here’s another example of robotic automation, this one from the travel industry: A customer booking a hotel reservation enters her details in a tour operator’s dedicated form and presses “send.” The form makes its way to an employee’s email. He opens up the form and copies the details into the hotel’s reservation system. Copying and pasting information requires no human thought whatsoever, so is an excellent candidate for process automation. Once automated, this activity can be handled much faster (and with much greater volume), with fewer errors. The human employee is now freed from this clerical task to do other more complex and engaging work like returning client phone calls, creating travel itineraries or even contacting the traveler whose reservation just came in and upselling her on a three-day extension to her trip. It’s a win-win for all.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the next time you need to do something repetitive and menial, a piece of software could do it for you? It’d be nice for you…and make a lot more sense for your employer, too!