Robots act as diplomats between IT & business

Key messages
  • Digital is no longer the privileged domain of IT professionals
  • Think digitally to cope with today's environment
  • Process thinking is essential

Today's digital paradigm has created a new reality that involves each and every one of us, not only IT experts. It urges professionals from any domain to acquire the digital way of thinking and the corresponding skills. We need to rebuild the bridge between IT and business, and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) supports this. Software robots work as diplomats between the two worlds.

The fact that children are taught digital skills already in primary school prepares them for a digital future. For those who have left school, digital transformation can be a real challenge. Training is needed to bring more people into the binary thinking and working world of computers.

How to close the gap

For too long, organizations have parked computer-related issues almost exclusively with IT experts, who translated the needs of the business into an automated solution in the best possible way. This has created a gap between the business and IT, for which the business is partly responsible.

It is high time for IT to be embedded in the business. Until now, this has been too much the other way around. Changes are too often technology-driven and for this very reason do not succeed sufficiently in finding timely and appropriate solutions to the most urgent questions and challenges of the business.

Computers have come along to determine how we tackle challenges. They have changed the way we work. Those who do not think digitally can no longer participate in the new environment. Thinking in terms of bits and bytes, of input and output, of conditions and loops should be common practice these days.

That is why it is no longer desirable for a limited group of IT professionals in an organization to have to deal with all technological challenges for a growing number of business experts. The IT department must become a facilitator for people who take technological control themselves and who want to come up with solutions themselves.

Those who don't think digitally can no longer cope with today's digitized environment

Achieving success means focusing on at least two aspects of the digital paradigm:

  1. Learning to unravel complex issues and adopt a modular approach. Gradually reducing the problem size means that the solution is also getting closer and closer and eventually becomes self-evident.
  2. Transparent working and peer-to-peer co-creation, averse to silos in the company. The way robots and RPA bots are constructed helps to realize these two aspects.

Process thinking is necessary

It cannot be emphasized enough that everything starts with the business process. Process thinking is essential, not least to prevent people and robots from getting in each other's way. If people do not work together, neither will the robots they build. Broad ownership of robots within the organization is advisable. Just like people, robots form links in the process. When that process changes, the robots will have to evolve along with it.

Robots are very flexible workers. They excel in adaptability. It's all about 'continuous improvement': discovering a 'single source of truth', documenting and continuously improving how business processes actually work.

Operational people who, via robots, ERP packages, automation, workflows, ticketing systems and so on, design and streamline themselves, ensure that the right business challenges are tackled. A robot is a tool that business professionals can use to bring that significant challenge to a successful conclusion.

The term RPA refers to a collection of user-friendly tools that help to learn to think digitally. Incidentally, these bots have the added advantage that they avoid having to radically change an existing digital architecture, the 'IT legacy'. Software robots navigate in the existing digital context and optimize their operation by taking over a specific class of tasks (digital, repetitive and predictable) from people.