Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has advanced significantly over the past few years and has made inroads to IT Services, Manufacturing, Banking, Telecom—to name a few. In a digital-first world, RPA has been the essential food for thought among organizations that require seamless operations, and greater value from resources. But the potential impacts of RPA are hit with gloomy predictions like ‘Jobocalypse’, and the only selling point was a potential ‘Skill Uplift’—people who were displaced moved into higher roles.
In this context, recently, I had an opportunity to host a roundtable discussion with various RPA leaders in Australia and New Zealand. And, my key interest in the discussion was to find out what is the reality—as opposed to the theory? Will there be a mass displacement of human labor? Will RPA reduce the need for repetitive human effort?
Yes, there has been a sustained and large-scale RPA rollout in organizations, there has been job displacements—no surprises there, but the fine print is interesting:
In both of the above cases, there is no real ‘Skill uplift’. While people who lost jobs in the first scenario, may have acquired new skills and applied for different jobs, Therefore, it is very hard to directly link this as an impact of RPA, but there are other examples, where ‘Real Skill Uplift’ has been observed.
However, people who are taking up these jobs have a consulting or IT background – as opposed to people who are actually displaced by automation.
So, that’s the story so far! I think, after a few years, we may see more substantial examples of RPA roll out in the region. And, this will give us more insights about RPA—its impact on the labor market, and how the “up skilling” plays out.
I thank all the leaders for freely sharing their views during the discussion…