OPINION: How to prepare for the new world of digital workers
DURBAN - In order to make the most of our employees’ time and the skills they have, and take advantage of a digitally-connected, remote workforce, we need to look at a different way of engaging people, and take a new attitude to digital workers.
Digital workers - virtual assistants, chatbots, RPA robots and the like - have largely been seen as a threat to people’s jobs. The converse is also true. They offer us a chance to liberate our workforces from repetitive, boring and process-driven activity and free them up to be more creative and innovative. To think up new ways of doing things that improve the organisation and the value it offers its customers.
In order to do that, organisations need to prepare to ramp up their digital workforces, and better utilise their human ones. Here are four ways to achieve this.
Assign the repetitive, process-driven work to digital process specialists. These digital process specialists allow you to automate your front and back-office processes without changing your current operating systems. They are designed to always ask the right questions, offer the right answers, gather the right information and perform the right system actions just like human experts. As a result, you no longer have to worry about whether your processes were correctly applied in context.
Assign the complex data and predictive work to AI. The sheer volume of data makes it very difficult for humans to stay on top of things. Joining the dots, when data is located in multiple places and is often unstructured, is work that AI thrives on. So is learning from patterns and being able to better predict outcomes. Humans simply don’t stand a chance when having to compete with AI in this field of specialisation.
Assign the complex emotional tasks to humans. Customers don’t just make brain-led decisions. They are also influenced by intuition and feelings. And while AI is getting very good at predicting what you will do based on past behaviour and current facial expressions, there remains a deep emotional layer that humans have greater ability to tap into (at present). This is why leadership remains a human endeavour. It’s also why so many people still prefer human to human conversations e.g. call centres over human to digital one’s e.g. chatbots.
Assign the direction-giving tasks and decisions to humans. As we can see with Covid-19, past patterns are not proving to be great predictors of the future. What was ‘right’ 3 months ago is no longer viable today. We are being forced to re-think our values, our assumptions, our own rules. We are being asked to come up with new innovative ways to operate as a global society within a constrained planet. These decisions continue to be better made by humans.
As a society, we have an opportunity to embrace automation, and to liberate humans to think more, reflect more and care more. To do this, we need to give more of the ‘doing’ work to digital workers. This work has numbed human brains and kept us operating in a state of unconscious auto-pilot for too long.
And while a higher-level consciousness may not translate to better productivity (let automation do that), it will translate to more sustainable and fair social, economic, political and ecological systems.
Ryan Falkenberg, co-Chief Executive, CLEVVA
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE