Who’s right about the future of work: optimists or pessimists? By looking into the more distant future the pessimists believe they have a strong case.
The precise date is disputed, but sometime around 2047, the theory goes, we will reach a point called the Singularity, when machine intelligence will surpass that of humans. With barely disguised glee, the pessimists reflect that we will, at that point, become superseded by a higher form of intelligence that will have little use for our labour – or even our existence.
Pessimists also appear to have the edge when it comes to assessing today’s urgent operational problem of implementing successful digital transformations. Appian, the global leader in robotic process automation and low-code platforms, has assessed the future of work by conducting a survey of more than 500 businesses within EMEA who employed more than 1,000 people.
What they found was a bleak picture of the way humans and technology interact.
Respondents had, on average, been undertaking digital transformation projects to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of work for at least three and a half years, and 37 per cent of businesses surveyed had been undertaking such projects continuously for more than five years.
While this is a good thing, as organisations have to improve to prosper, the results are, on the whole, dismal. More than half of the projects ended either in failure or frustration, 16 per cent of projects never even got going, and a majority of businesses spent most of their time paying back technical debt from earlier projects.
Businesses incur a technical debt when they have to rework a technical solution at significant financial and operational cost. But technical debt is not accumulated because of fast implementations driven by the need to deliver a minimum viable product. It’s accumulated because IT departments are not aligned with other organisational departments and are overwhelmed with demands for new technical applications. On average, each organisation surveyed lodged 230 new development requests every year. That’s almost one per working day!
Despite this demoralising reality, 60 per cent of respondents to the Appian survey were optimistic about their ability to deliver successful digital transformations, and there is real cause for that optimism. It’s called intelligent automation (IA).
By using a combination of low-code platforms and bots, which are fast to develop and deploy, IA ensures humans and technology can deliver success not failure, efficiency not cost, as long the transformation process is framed within a strong strategic vision allied to clear, measurable objectives.
It quickly translates ideas into visually intuitive applications hosted in secure cloud environments. This creates instant accessibility, which accelerates adoption. IA also bridges the technology gap between IT and the rest of the organisation.
Above all, IA is a driver for positive change. Rather than leaving humans behind, our goal at Procensol is to use these technologies to enable people to do more with less, to become more efficient, effective and empowered in their work. It takes people to extract value from technology. IA enables them to do that, which is a real cause for optimism about the future of work.