How Robotic Process Automation is changing the way we work. Are we to be concerned for our job opportunities?

What kind of tasks will be automated?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the future automation of high volume, low complexity, routine administrative “white collar” tasks. Some of the greater benefits of automating processes are reduced costs and increased accuracy.

Examples of RPA could be:

  • Invoice handling, controlling, creditor- and debtor handling, accounting and reconciliation (Economics)
  • Allocation of rights, surveillance of IT-systems, creation of new employees (IT)
  • Document handling, consolidations and validations, data handling, casework (Administration)
  • Salary handling and performance retrieval (HR)

These are just a few examples, but it’s clear that it will affect almost any part of a corporation.

Where will it leave the human labour force?

It is impossible to compete with a robot who can work 24/7 with an accuracy close to perfection. So where does it leave us? There are multiple ways to perceive this. Of course some jobs performed by humans will be replaced by RPA. However, it will also free up resources allowing us to work on more critical matters.

The right question might not be which jobs will be replaced, but how they will be redefined. Nothing historical indicates that technological advancement increases unemployment.

Characteristics of future work

“The Amazon Go retail store in Seattle has no cashiers or checkout lanes. Customers pick up their items and go, as sensors and algorithms automatically charge their Amazon account” (HBR)

If the same technology as in the Amazon Go retail store got implemented in every supermarket, then of course many would be laid off. However, the same persons might start working as freelancers; delivering groceries, private cleaning, city drivers, etc.

A lot indicates that we will ‘move around’ a lot more, but not that we will be unemployed. The implementation of RPA is far from easy. It requires aid from skilled digital consultants whom may be of many different academic backgrounds.

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Sources: Thinking Through How Automation Will Affect Your Workforce (HBR) & Robotic Process Automation