For starters, it ‘takes the bot out of the human’ to paraphrase Martin Fiore, a tax leader at Ernst & Young New York, who has been at the bleeding edge of Intelligent Automation since 2015.

The future of digital is human

According to the Wall Street Journal companies that “began experimenting a few years ago with software programs to automate mundane tasks are reaping tangible benefits now. Hundreds of software robots work alongside human employees at companies such as Ernst & Young and Walmart Inc. where they’re saving employees millions of hours of time.”


Fiore an acknowledged champion of software ‘robots’ and people work synergistically together not against each other explains, “Robots can free workers from mundane tasks, allowing them to provide purpose and value at a higher level.”

 In a January 2019 interview for HCM Technology report he said, “The first thing to understand is that these are ‘soft robots,’ which means they’re software, and the only reason the term ‘bot’ is used—other than to make it sound fancy—is that we’re mimicking the keystrokes of the human.”

WalkThru, in essence, is a software bot automating the manual steps that a human would ordinarily do when generating a procedure document. Many hours of human effort are streamlined thanks to the inbuilt cleverness of the software increasing both efficiency and quality. Results are therefore better. Performance is improved and the organisations using the software benefit.

Clever software tools, like Sidekick’s WalkThru, are specifically designed to support people, rather than replace them. The software takes over the tedious tasks that can easily be mimicked so the human knowledge worker is freed up to instead redirect their energy to higher-level, purpose-driven work such as domain knowledge, relationship building, project management or predictive analysis for example. This human-centred work is more challenging and interesting for the knowledge worker and adds value to the organisation.

Workplaces are transforming, as organisations take advantage of clever and automated software tools.

Automation will change every job category by at least 25%

Source: The Future of Jobs, 2027: Working Side by Side with Robots, Forrester, 2017.

Clever automation can be applied across a spectrum of roles, disciplines, departments, and sectors and from everything to improving messaging, communications, documentation, assigning billing codes to streamlining external marketing initiatives, for example.

Just like hand-held power tools that enhance the output of manual labourers, software automation boost the outputs of knowledge workers; from HR, to trainers, to business analysts to project managers and beyond.

By removing the rote, repetitive, replicable, routine and productivity-draining tasks from knowledge workers beneficial outcomes include:

  • end user experiences are enhanced
  • acceleration of business processes
  • improved accuracy
  • better conformance to industry regulations

Optimisation of technology is a natural evolution

Automation is already happening. In 2019 we are poised at the cusp of the next era of work; The Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR or Industry 4.0; a concept coined by Professor Klaus Schwab founder and executive chairman of Geneva-based World Economic Forum, in 2015,

Previous industrial revolutions, Schwab writes, ‘liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people’.  https://www.weforum.org/about/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-by-klaus-schwab

This revolution is described by Bernard Marr–a futurist, and strategic business & technology advisor–as an exponential change to the way we live, work and relate to one another because of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems.  “As we implement smart technologies in our factories and workplaces, connected machines will interact, visualize the entire production chain and make decisions autonomously. This revolution is expected to impact all disciplines, industries, and economies.”

Marr considers the 4IR an extension of the third ‘Digital Revolution’, however the velocity, scale and potential for wholesale and systemic change to the practice of ‘work’ is what designates it is as a distinct era of it’s own. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is disrupting almost every industry in every country and creating massive change in a non-linear way at unprecedented speed”, he wrote in August 2018.

4IR was a major theme in Davos, Switzerland at the 2019 World Economic Forum (WEF)  where Schwab called for leaders and citizens to, “together shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.”

Ideally intelligent automation tools will be designed to be accessible for all.

To automate or not to automate is no longer a question anymore.

“Early movers are already learning lessons about the best way to deploy Intelligent Automation. One lesson is the importance of preparing the workforce and enabling them to re-skill themselves for new roles. “

Intelligent automation can be divided into three categories; deciders, doers, and movers.

  • Deciders are information systems that automate decision making
  • Doers, such as collaborative robots and clever software, automate physical tasks
  • Movers use sensors and artificial intelligence to automate transportation

Sidekick’s WalkThru is a doer. It is a clever software tool that does document layout and formatting ‘thinking’ for the user. The software takes care of consistency and placement. It’s features are intuitive for procedure document authors. What this means in real terms for time pressed knowledge-workers is that they do not have to expend time and energy on ‘designing’ which is a specialised craft of its own that requires time and practice to master.

WalkThru provides specific design solutions for a specific design problem using templates that are auto populated. The software allows for multiple outputs delivering technical reliability with streamlined work flow. It’s very efficient.

Sidekick is committed to Klaus Schwab’s vision of a future that has people at the centre,  empowered and liberated by technology and clever tools made for people by people.

We are here to contribute to a 4IR work environment where technologies and tools support people as they pursue purpose-driven activities. We invite you to join us.

Image attribution: Photo by Andy Kelly Sourced from Unsplash.com

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