Robotic Process Automation

Human-Bot Collaboration: Unfolding the Myth

Are bots alone capable of automating a complex business process? It may sound like a feasible option, but in practical sense, bots require human intervention to complete most business process steps. In his third podcast, Gopal Kulkarni, the head of Technology Solutions Group at Infosys BPM gives in-depth idea into the human-bot collaboration aspect.

  • Automation of a majority of jobs is inevitable, but human intervention will always be valuable.
  • Newer jobs will be created along with employee reskilling, to ensure continued delivery of superior customer experience.
  • Two categories of automation are unassisted and assisted automation.

Podcast Audio Transcript

Alisha: Hello listeners, this is Alisha; thank you for tuning in to yet another exciting and informative podcast from us at Infosys BPM. Today, we are having an exciting chat on the human-bot collaboration aspect. And to talk about this, we have here with us, Gopal Kulkarni, Head of Technology Solutions Group here at Infosys BPM. Welcome Gopal, to your third podcast with us. How are you today?

Gopal: Thank you, Alisha. We kick started our podcast journey with insights into Intelligent Process Automation and integrated technology solutions; and then moved on to the importance of Predictive Support and Maintenance; and now today’s podcast will be about Human and Bot collaboration.

Alisha: That’s true Gopal, and I’m sure it’s a productive habit. To start with, could you give us an idea of how automation, once implemented, will affect people and jobs?

Gopal: Sure. The World Economic Forum said in the “Future of Jobs” Report of 2018 that a huge number of present-day jobs would disappear, but they also predicted that even greater volumes of new jobs would appear.

A premier consulting firm has suggested that newer technologies have the potential to automate a significant portion of manual activities. Today, companies are paying employees to get jobs done, and a majority of these jobs will be automated in the near future - which is inevitable. However, this won’t be a show-stopper. Human intervention will continue to be required, while newer jobs will also be created along with employee reskilling, to ensure continued delivery of superior customer experience.

Alisha: Do you mean to say that we will not be needing people to work on some tasks anymore?

Gopal: Not really. Technology has a tremendous impact on automating business processes. However, despite automation, in most scenarios human intervention is required to complete a process. Bots are not capable of performing certain unique tasks that require human intervention - including problem solving, decision making, creativity, and the human touch which improves customer experience. Hence, “human-in-the-loop” is going to be the way forward, along with consistent employee reskilling. Due to these reasons, anxiety about automation replacing the human workforce is an overstatement.

Alisha: I think what you just said will be a relief to many. Could you explain the “human-in-the-loop” concept a little bit further?

Gopal: Sure. Globally, we have a common understanding on the two categories of Robotic Process Automation – “unassisted automation” and “assisted automation”. The concept of scheduling bots to automate processes end to end on remote servers, without any human intervention, is known as unassisted automation. Whereas, assisted automation (as the name suggests), requires human intervention and judgement to automate the business process.

“Human in the loop” is an assisted automation strategy, in which bots automate key pieces of a business process, and humans are involved in decision and judgement steps to help the bots in completing the process. It is like a relay race, where bots complete a task and pass the baton to a human, and subsequently the human completes a decision task and passes the baton to the next bot.

Let me give an example: Consider an incoming email query. A bot may be able to analyse the keywords in the query and come up with a possible response, based on information from various internal systems. But this response may not be fool-proof and has to be validated by a human being. The relevant employee can either approve the response created by the bot as satisfactory or add more information. The bot will then send the final response to the intended recipients.

Alisha: That’s very interesting – humans working hand-in-hand with bots. How does this affect employees working on the floor?

Gopal: The industry is moving from a “Pyramid” to a “Pentagon” model. This means the bottom of the pyramid is shrinking due to deployment of bots. BPM is evolving to technology-integrated operations, where both the “human workers” and “digital workers” will be working in tandem on the floor.

We call this human-bot collaboration as “Human-ware”. At Infosys BPM, employees on the floor are made aware of Human-ware service delivery, and the importance of automation to remain competitive as well as relevant. The objective of automation is not to write off human workforce. When some of the repetitive tasks get automated, productivity increases, and employees can be re-deployed in other areas. The focus of Human-Ware is also on amplifying human potential.

So, as intelligent automation continues to grow, jobs and tasks will evolve to coexist in the digital world. Employees will be reskilled and empowered to take up new, more creative and inventive roles. That’s how we ensure their relevance and co-existence with bots in the era of Digital Transformation.

Alisha: Sounds like a win-win situation! How does Infosys BPM empower the employees for human-bot collaboration?

Gopal: Human-ware service delivery is all about "best of people blended with best of technology to deliver the services, co-creating business value and enhanced customer experience". We intend to make business processes "Digital" through Human-ware.

Infosys BPM has embarked on the journey of Human-ware enablement over the last few years. Our objective is to ensure seamless service delivery by cross-skilling and re-skilling employees. We want to transform our employees to automation consultants rather than mere execution engines. This is in line with our overall vision. It’s essential to have a comprehensive skill enhancement plan to enable employees to adapt to change positively.

Alisha: That sounds great Gopal, and I would love to hear more about your journey in a future podcast. Thank you so much for taking this time to connect with us today.

Gopal: Thank you, Alisha. It was a pleasure.

Alisha: Dear listeners, if you enjoyed our podcast today, please don’t forget to share and like it on social media. Our social handles are mentioned in the podcast page. The podcast will be available on various platforms like Google Podcasts and Spotify, in addition to our website.

Also, if you have any queries, do reach out to us through the email address on the podcast description. Watch this space for more exciting podcasts coming up. Once again, thank you for tuning in, stay healthy and socially distanced. Have a nice day!

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