Ever since humans began using robots to tackle tasks, there have been naysayers predicting everything from all human jobs being written off by 2020, to complete world domination by a race of self-aware machine overlords.
These people are wrong; there’s no need to start reaching for the panic buttons just yet. As we’ve seen over the previous decades, robotic automation has improved the balance of the human/digital workforce, and made huge savings in efficiency, time and money for both companies and individuals. But that’s not to say that bots can’t go wrong.
They can and do – at a recent automation event I attended, one workshop participant claimed that barely a day went by that bots didn’t go down because of network maintenance or product application changes, causing the bots to ‘break.’ Bots really are vulnerable to fluctuations in IT infrastructure, as well as other more…well, complex issues associated with machine learning.
Controlling this vulnerability can be easier said than done; bots aren’t all designed with the same goals in mind, meaning that whilst some bots in a business’ digital workforce are easily programmable and will follow a set of rules, others are taught to think and learn for themselves.
Combined with the fact that there isn’t typically a unified technology behind a bot population, rather a competing set of automation agenda, many organisations can struggle to orchestrate their many ‘mini intelligences’ into one unified service.
Therefore, creating a robust governance environment is vital when it comes to ensuring that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) initiatives succeed in a controlled manner. No one wants to be working with a digital workforce that has a control issue; and in the same way that automation completes processes in a fraction of the time of a human workforce, if bots are introduced into a broken system or break down themselves, errors can be propagated extremely quickly.
The simple answer to this complex issue is Robotic Service Orchestration, or RSO. RSO orchestrates the delivery and management of services across the digital and human workforce – finding the right worker for the right task at the right time.
Service Orchestration simplifies services and addresses the underlying issues of complexity, visibility, costs, control, and it makes sure that the bot workforce is kept healthy. The two key traits of RSO in this regard are the ability to ensure governance through visibility and problem-solving.
As a technology platform, RSO puts governance in place while also helping address control issues, and this is simply done by providing the visibility required to make important decisions about products and services.
For example, if a business-critical service level is being missed, RSO makes it easy to investigate the processes that go into making up that service. Using RSO, a service manager can gradually change the blend of human and digital resources dedicated to the service to assess whether this improves the situation over time, switching humans for bots, or vice versa.
RSO can also act to place fail-safes in the operating system of the new digital workforce. In the same way that car manufacturers install physical air bags to deploy in the millisecond ‘window of opportunity’ between collision and impact; RSO does just the same in the digital world to prevent damage to a service if a bot crashes.
RSO monitors the health of bots at a service level and lets businesses easily switch from bots to humans when errors are spotted. So, while a technical problem is being fixed by the bot coders, a company’s human workforce can step in to take care of the operational problem, ensuring that customers are kept satisfied while the digital workforce is temporarily down.
Whilst the task of managing bots in the workforce and providing a unified service to clients may seem daunting, implementing RSO can provide a swift and efficient solution. Control challenges around any new element of a business’ processes are always going to cause butterflies in the boardroom; meaning that an elegant and reassuring orchestration of services will settle nerves and guarantee a healthier workforce for organisations moving forward, whether that’s human, or robot.