Bots offer US, Europe a way out of workforce shortage, and delays for customers

Layoffs make headlines, but in the post-pandemic world, businesses are neck-deep in the U.S. and Europe in an unprecedented workforce shortage, which, when combined with the supply chain crisis and macroeconomic uncertainties, can be like a migraine that refuses to part ways with you.

“You cannot hire yourself out of the challenge,” declares Mihir Shukla, the founder-CEO of the San Jose-based Automation Anywhere, Inc, who launched the company with his wife and two friends in 2003, when robots and artificial intelligence (AI) were still in the realm of science fiction or scholarly journals. Today, his company is regarded as a leader in the world of robotic process outsourcing.

The solution to the human resource crisis is automation, which, according to projections made by the technology research firm Gartner, will contribute $15 trillion to the global economy, or the equivalent of the current GDPs of Germany, Japan and the UK put together, by 2030.

The problem, though, is that, as shown by a Deloitte study, a mere 13 per cent of all companies have been able to scale up their automation efforts. They are often seen struggling to customise what Shukla describes as “one-size-fits-none automation tools and on-premise platforms”.

Automation has gained momentum post-Covid, notes Adeel Fudda, Vice-President, Intelligence, Automation and Emerging Technologies at Mars Inc, because “companies are finding it hard to fill up job vacancies”, especially in the U.S.

Fudda was attending Automation Anywhere’s Imagine 2022 conference, which saw IT and innovation bosses of client companies, ranging from Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and Amazon Web Services to Convergys, Infosys and HCL Technologies gather in downtown New York.

The principal business of Mars, which is known around the world for its chocolate, is petcare products and it also operates 80 per cent of all the pet clinics and hospitals across the U.S. And automation works magically for the veterinary doctors, who are not easy to find (according to Fudda), employed by Mars.

They no longer have to manually do certain jobs — such as computing the number of cells in a blood sample to figure out if the suffering animal has cancer. These can now be done by bots at a fraction of the time that a vet would spend. Automation dramatically reduces the number of repetitive tasks that employees have to do as a part of their day’s work.

Shukla points out that now increasingly, young people being interviewed for jobs want to know to what degree has the company concerned adopted automation because no one is prepared to do repetitive tasks anymore.

Even for doctors serving humans, automation is making a difference. Humana, a leading healthcare and health insurance provider in the U.S., launched a bot named Allie developed by Automation Anywhere back in 2019 to collect and curate information about patients, including allergies and adverse health conditions, which doctors have done manually. It also sorts insurance claims based on the levels of risk of patients.

“By scaling automation, we have increased the capacity of our teams to increase value for our members, while also being a driving force behind digital transformation,” notes Joe Bechtel, Director of Automation at Humana. “Having a digital workforce frees up employees to develop new and innovative products and services that improve patient experiences.”

Put simply, for the average customer, it translates into being not kept on hold by a call centre executive while he or she completes certain manual tasks, or having to wait less longer to get a loan sanctioned. For vendors, it means getting invoices cleared faster because the people managing them in companies can employ bots to take over repetitive routine tasks.

All this is achieved by empowering employees with an automation co-pilot, or a digital assistant, named AARI. It allows them to engage with bots while working in their favorite apps, to get work done easier and faster. AARI can now be embedded into any web app, such as Salesforce and Genesys, and even into voice and IVR (Interactive Voice Response).

And to make it possible, or to “unleash the power of human potential” and “reimagine work”, as Shukla puts it, Automation Anywhere has unveiled an Automation Success Platform that enables companies and developers perform a host of tasks seamlessly, from document management, to figuring out where to automate next, and also accelerating automation with new apps.

This is the future of automation technology — because one size fits none.




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