As an HR leader, you may have heard some rumblings about Robotic Process Automation (RPA). It is a technology that has been evolving for some time, but only recently have companies begun to apply its vast potential to the Human Resources space.
To start, let us level the playing field in our understanding of RPA by following the Institute of Robotic Process Automation’s definition:
“Robotic process automation (RPA) is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.”
The way the Institute of Robotic Process Automation pitches it, RPA removes the burden of menial tasks from employees, freeing them to concentrate on more valuable and rewarding work. Or as Ian Barkin, Co-founder & Head of Strategy for the consulting, implementation and managed services firm Symphony, said, “RPA takes that which doesn’t add value out of the hands of people and automates it.”
In real talk, here is how that could benefit you.
RPA streamlines processes that consistently frustrate mere mortals. Programs that need to operate together but require manual input – RPA can link them automatically. Repetitive tasks that take very little thought but require far too much time to execute – a “robot” can handle them for you. The big hook is that RPA can do all this without interfering with the systems your organization is already using. This sounds like the utopian future we have all been waiting for.
Consider the most mind-numbing elements of talent acquisition. Sorting through the first few rounds of resumes. Data entry. Analytics. Juggling multiple systems. Even sourcing and screening in some instances. Through Robotic Process Automation, tasks like these can be taken off the shoulders of employees and handled by robots, who never make mistakes or take breaks. Employees can then be redeployed to focus on work that requires human judgement or creativity. This should be a win for the business and a win for the worker.
There is, of course, an elephant in the room.
Whenever work becomes automated, the threat of job obsolescence rears its head.
It is true that as technology makes us more efficient, it reduces the need for certain roles. This does not mean the robot “jobpocalypse” has finally arrived. But it does mean employees who were once stuck in the trenches can focus their attention on work that is more meaningful. Inevitably, some jobs will become redundant as certain functions are automated. That is simply the march of technology. Everyone in every industry must prepare for that possibility, and find ways to provide value in other areas.
But do not be so quick to view RPA pessimistically. Human judgment is not easily replaced, and it is judgment that makes recruiters and talent acquisition specialists so valuable. Consider instead the ways Robotic Process Automation will help humans become more human at work.
After all, if nothing is left of a job when all brainless work has been stripped away, it is unlikely that the job was worth having in the first place.