Amrop Interview with Mike Hobday, SVP Europe, AntWorks

By Patrique Habboo

Highlights and insights

The Big Picture

Technology has only just begun to change your workplace, your work, how you do business. If it is not happening in your organization, then ask: why? Digital Darwinism will see the extinction of businesses that claim that “digital climate change is not relevant to my industry, my business.”

Successful businesses transforming largely analogue operations to the new digital economy need a coherent and engineered approach to driving automation progressively through their business processes, extending the capacity to automate more complex processes as confidence grows. This may be robotics, then robotics with AI-infused machine reading, then connecting to chatbots, and so on. Over time the routine of your middle and back offices will shrink.

The organization structures of 21st Century enterprises will be different, less layers, with more interesting and more varied work. Colleagues will seamlessly work across many processes around clients or products and services.

The Human Implications

Millennials and Gen Z’s are part of an educated new workforce, and many are in leadership positions. In the main they are impatient for knowledge, challenging and varied work careers, in organizations where hierarchies are banished in favour of diversity and egalitarianism. They seek coaching, mentoring and learning. And technological advances are helping fulfill that need.

Tasks requiring judgement, creativity, knowledge and empathy will be augmented with AI. The right information will be contextualized and presented to inform decisions. The 80/20 rule of 20th Century work, where 80 per cent is routine (reading emails and text, finding information, answering basic questions) will flip to 20/80. Work should be progressively more interesting, challenging, demanding perhaps and more value-creation-focused.

Think about the work you want to focus your colleagues on that will deliver your competitive advantage. Don’t simply automate routine and leave them with the work that remains. Use this opportunity to design the work and services for the future and the shape of your organization that will make you most successful.

Drilling Down – From Strategy To Operations

Eliminate jobs and activities that are not adding value to your customers or protecting your business. Eliminate the routine — often the middle and back office work - that arises due to inefficiencies in technology. Software robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) release people to focus on value-added activities — exercising judgement, innovation, creativity and empathy in informed interactions with customers and colleagues.

The world and automation has moved on from basic Robotic Process Automation which has proved difficult to scale. In part because automation is being used in processes full of inefficiencies and bad data. If the data in your spreadsheet is wrong and you are simply speeding its entry into your systems you may save cost in doing the wrong thing, but it’s still wrong!

AntWorks has fused AI and robotics to create a single solution. It cleans up input data, applies your business rules, and executes transactions seamlessly. Cognitive Machine Reading enables machine reading of documents that are difficult for the human eye to absorb. For example, commercial insurance documents, unstructured multi-page descriptions of insurer, assets and insurance provisions. It extracts and structures the key data, reaching out to other client records to fill gaps in the data or enrich it, apply business rules and inputting directly in the insurers’systems without human involvement except quality control and compliance checks.

The Stakeholder Experience

Clients, customers, colleagues, future colleagues expect products, services, company processes and tools to be as digital, automated and transparent as in their personal lives. Your last best service experience is now your benchmark of good service.

Three leadership messages:

1 - If you lead a business, think about how automation will change your job and grasp the opportunities now. We have no right to be driving automation into our colleagues’ work if we’re not showing leadership and adopting it ourselves.

2 - Learn, read and understand. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and AI are often presented as complex. Don’t be put off by the jargon but look to the big picture of the change happening in the workplace around us. As leading computer science guru Andrew Ng once tweeted: “if you can make a decision in less than a second, then the technology exists today to automate it.” After all, if the decision is that fast, you have made it before, or are applying a rule. If we can understand the thought process, then we can automate the logic. In fact, if any part of your work is rules-based or conforms to patterns it can be automated.

3 - Learn some basic coding - it’s just another language.

Read the full interview here.

Learn more about Amrop Matrix Interim here.