Work is a major part of our lives. A third of our lives is devoted to it. Our world has billions of human workers. It's a key component of our societies.
However, work breaks many challenges that become more and more complex. In this article, I will attempt to answer a few questions: What are the challenges facing the world of work today? How does the COVID-19 crisis make these problems even more complex? And how can Intelligent Automation (or cognitive automation), the most powerful new technology of our time, help us solve these challenges?
According to Gallup, 85% of employees worldwide do not flourish at work. According to a Smartsheet report, "Over 40% of workers surveyed spend at least a quarter of their workweek on routine tasks, mundane tasks, with email, data collection, and data entry occupying the most time." In addition, only a third of workers currently have access to appropriate collaboration tools or Intelligent Automation solutions.
For the past 10 years, companies have focused on the customer experience. It is time to take a look at the "employee experience." According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, companies that lead initiatives to improve the employee experience are four times more profitable than those that don't. Intelligent Automation technology offers us a unique opportunity to enhance employee satisfaction.
On the other hand, according to the International Labor Organization, work-related stress and the illnesses that result from it contribute to the death of nearly 2.8 million workers every year worldwide. Besides, it costs society about $3 trillion per year. There is an urgent need to improve this situation.
Because of COVID-19, the vast majority of the working world is currently working remotely due to closings and quarantines. Most of us have never been trained to work from home. Many suffer from isolation, lack of support, constant distractions, lack of connection and anxiety due to the crisis. This has likely had an impact on motivation, efficiency and work-life balance, creating stress and affecting physical and mental health.
Due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, more than 1 billion people are currently at risk of losing their jobs. This situation differs significantly from one sector to another (airlines are particularly affected, while computer skills are more and more in demand).
Five main levers available to world leaders to build the future of work with Intelligent Automation (the “fivefold-A artifact”):
Intelligent Automation helps us identify opportunities to work better.
Take the example of Fitbit or smartwatches. Thanks to personalized dashboards, Intelligent Automation can monitor work-life balance, reduce stress and improve our professional behavior over time. Intelligent Automation helps to "take the pulse" of our professional activity. For example, it can recommend some breaks in scheduling a day of meetings or even suggest automating a repetitive task. This is done using smart platforms that collect data related to our activity on screens (e.g., calendar, apps, messaging), analyze it and create recommendations.
Examples of such technologies are Worklytics, Workplace Analytics and Time Doctor.
Intelligent Automation can identify and automate a large part of the routine and time-consuming tasks, allowing us to focus on activities with higher added value, making them more enjoyable.
For example, Intelligent Automation can automatically build a PowerPoint presentation for a weekly meeting or record invoices in accounting software. Intelligent Automation also helps with email management (e.g., sorting and intelligent filtering) and the optimization of meetings (e.g., transcription, coach, planners).
Examples of such technologies are UiPath, Kryon, Celonis, Workona and Calendly.
Intelligent Automation can increase the added value of work by working closely with us.
For example, Intelligent Automation allows us to analyze millions of data points in a fraction of a second, improving the quality of our decision-making. This technology can also promote remote work and team collaboration as well as identify possibilities for retraining.
Examples of such technologies are Aera Technology and Pega.
Without knowing it, some of the work tasks we perform do not correspond to best practices and become obstacles to a healthy professional life.
Restricting the volume of meetings and email traffic is essential.
Connecting employees, companies and other market players more closely is the key to building the future of work.
In this regard, Intelligent Automation can increase the connection between highly engaged businesses and job seekers. It can also create an environment that improves the sociability of employees in a company, allowing them to care more about their team members. Finally, Intelligent Automation could help support a system like universal income to reduce inequalities between people.
An example of such technology is EightFold.
I hope we will soon see a new generation of applications based on Intelligent Automation that are able to bring us to the future of work. For example, platforms can coach us in real time, allow healthier work, accompany us during stressful situations or bring us to comply with best practices of collaboration. These intelligent applications will be able to integrate the five levers described above intelligently and seamlessly.