Indian IT Industry must Seize the Opportunity Brought about by Automation before it is too late
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Indian IT industry is in a state of flux. This is partially due to major IT organizations aggressively pursuing automation and streamlining their operations. Repetitive work such as data entry, rule-based processes, and software maintenance are now getting automated. This allows increased focus on qualitative work that adds more value to business. Robotic Process Automation, or RPA as popularly known, has gained a lot of traction not only with the Indian IT industry, but also across the globe. The results gained by RPA has seen in getting implemented not just in IT, but across various domains - from logistics and retail to manufacturing and banking. According to a 2017 research by Forrester, it is projected to become a $2.9 Bn industry worldwide by 2021.
Indian IT had always been backed by a strong BPO, BPM and Call center services. It heralded the IT revolution in the country. However, automation technology is poised to cut inroads into these areas. These traditional IT services have reached an inflection point, and automation is going to redefine its future. By leveraging automation, businesses stand a lot to gain and having maintained a significant competitive edge in IT over other economies, India must seize the opportunities before it is too late.
So, What Lies Ahead?
Automation will always be a focus area for businesses looking to increase customer services and engagement, reduce turnaround times, and improve quality. Automating critical yet repetitive work is currently underway with rule-based automation. This ensures reduced dependency on manual effort, freeing up staff to be engaged in more productive work, and thereby move up the value chain. However, this requires the effort to upskill a big percentage of the existing IT workforce. This will be possible only through the combined effort of business leaders, policymakers, and the academia. Automation Development Centers, Centers of Excellence, and Training institutes will need to be set up with a vision on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Process, and Analytics capabilities injected both on the business side as well as the skill side of the current and the emerging workforce.
Rule-based automation has been around for quite some time now, and its results are seen in increasing the quality, speed and volume of business. With Intelligent Automation and Artificial Intelligence, businesses now can automate complicated processes. Cognitive automation brings logical, decision-making capabilities can make easy work of such processes that are dynamic in nature which involves non-standard exceptions and unstructured data. It can learn on its own by observing changes within processes and systems, and understand and comprehend unstructured data, make decisions like a human would, analyze and offer suggestions to optimize the processes further. For example, it can automatically capture data across multiple sources such as email, worksheets, scanned documents, text, audio etc. It can understand the context and content, and take decisions based on what it has learnt in the past, and flag up exceptions that require manual intervention. It can track all the processes it is involved in, and analyze the data and suggest to business teams how to improve efficiency further.
Such advancements give enterprises to plan for the future without worrying about changes that may happen later, or transition of processes without affecting operations, and complement their business with a highly advanced digital workforce that can work in tandem with a human workforce.
IT workforce should not be daunted
Automation is going to be ubiquitous soon, and it need not be a harbinger of doom as popular media reports try to portray it killing jobs across industries. It is similar to how personal computers, internet and email changed the way we work decades ago. Such changes come with new opportunities with the creation of new roles and skills. To stay relevant in an increasingly dynamic IT landscape, existing workforce needs to be ready to train and acquire skills that will get the best out of their current competencies, as well as prepare them for the opportunities that lie in store. Professionals should be observant of the changes in the industry, and find relevant skills to improve themselves further and move into strategic roles. The industry will demand more from the existing workforce as well as the academia. The platform to equip the workforce with the required skills should be supported by the govt, and the academia in terms of programs, courses, and in the curriculum.
Robotic Process Automation, whether it be rule-based or cognitive helps enterprises not just in improving business with quality, speed and efficiency, but also in easing the stress on its employees. As businesses grow, the volume of processes increase proportionally, and along with it does the data. It becomes complicated and stressful for employees as they try to cope with it. RPA reduces this stress by taking away repetitive tasks that take a lot of time and effort. Automation therefore should be welcomed as a productivity enabler. Very soon, bots would soon be your tireless, super-efficient, all-weather colleague to help you at work! Businesses will soon find the balance to accommodate human and digital workforce to co-create together. This will happen with a strategic approach towards building a skilled workforce that can be smoothly transitioned to futuristic roles.