What are main obstacles to robotization and how to overcome them?
In one of my previous articles I discussed main reasons to go for robotization. Now I want tackle a more challenging topic – an analysis of main obstacles companies have to overcome to succeed with robotization.
- Why should I bother ?
Although robotization can be now regarded as a mainstream tool for enterprise digital transformation it is sometimes difficult to find a reliable source of information on tangible benefits robotization can bring. There are obvious reasons like reduction of the cost of operations, improvement of quality and efficiency and quite many non-obvious that I discussed in more detail in the previous post.
In short, main reasons that companies should be driven by in making a decision about robotization are:
- It is difficult for a company to automate to the required extent with IT, and not all automation is economically justified that way
- Company is looking for quick wins against labor market challenges (attrition, rising wages, training, etc.)
- A will to release employees from the most tedious and repetitive tasks
- Increase in efficiency
- Improvement of quality
- Taking a first step to try and experiment with AI
I’m sure that reading that post will answer the question of why should you bother with robotization. If you are not fully convinced – please let me know in comments of address me directly.
- Lack of knowledge of assessment of robotic potential
The general rule of thumb says 20-30% of all office work is in range of robotic technology, but actual potential can be much more than that depending on your specific application environment. There is very short questionnaire that can help you identify processes that are best for robotization:
- Process is highly standardized, documented and stable
- Input data are digitized
- Process requires significant amount of repetitive manual labor
- Automated system is relatively stable in terms of adding new functionalities and in near future there are no significant architectural changes planned
- Automated process is human error prone (requires large amount of data input, especially sensitive like amounts, dates or clients’ IDs)
- Automated process covers few IT systems what requires an employee to be able to multitask and frequently switch between the applicationsAutomated process has significant volume fluctuations what makes adequate staffing challenging for Customer
If your processes share at least some of those characteristics they are most probably good for robots.
After such brief assessment you can go two ways mostly depending on your organization culture – either find some advisory help to analyze in detail all your potential upfront or start small with first process and robotize it and then build your experience in agile and iterative process of continuous improvement.
- Lack of robotic skills
Here you also have couple of choices. The most obvious one is that you may decide you don’t need robotic skills at all and let somebody else do the robotization for you, ideally providing robots-as-a-service. This is the best choice when robots are not your core business or your scale of operations does not exceed hundreds of employees. On the opposite you can try to establish Center of Robotic Excellence yourself by acquiring talents on the market or by asking for some consulting on how to establish and grow such competencies.
- Fear of implementing “temporary” solution that stays forever
Because robots work without changing of underlying IT systems and somehow cover inefficiencies of current user interfaces can be perceived as “temporary” solution until “real automation” is being introduced. The truth is that robots are fully fledged automation solution that in most cases has no alternative. This is because usually there are valid reasons that automated low-level interfaces haven’t been built or systems haven’t been changed due to sometimes prohibitive cost. On the other hand robots by their nature are extremely lightweight and can be a great bridging solution until those “ultimate” solution are being delivered.
- Potential collision with other digital transformation projects
As said above robots are now a part of the mainstream digital transformation tools and should be used as complimentary solution to other automation efforts. The best way to avoid potential collision is to simply put robots on your transformation roadmap after properly assessing their advantages over other activities. Big transformation projects usually take some time to implement, so robots are ideal bridging solution as I mentioned in previous paragraph. Robots are also perfect to fill some gaps in ergonomics of newly implemented solutions, especially when some difficult decisions on scope had to be made right before deployment of big new transformational project. Robots can give you some time to think about target employee experience when interacting with newly built systems.