May 19, 2020

Will Africa be digitally relevant in the next 10 years?

Big Data
Digital Transformation
robots
Artificial intelligence
mahlokoane percy ngwato
3 min
Will Africa be digitally relevant in the next 10 years?

By 2025, jobs which were common place in 2015 will no longer exist. Students graduating in 2016, will have obsolete qualifications for which there will no longer be a profession by 2025.

•             Front-line military personnel will be replaced with robots

•             Private bankers and wealth managers will be replaced with algorithms

•             Telemarketers, data entry capturers, tax preparers, lawyers, accountants, actuaries, statisticians and consulting engineers will be replaced with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

New business models, like those of Uber and Alibaba, are already industry-shaping disruptors, and each day, new Digital innovators are emerging to cause disintermediation and disruption across every industry imaginable.

Traditional enterprises, whilst presently successful by today’s standards, are scrambling to make sense of Business Digitisation in order to stay relevant in the Digital future. Many are attempting to create new Digital business models which will eventually cannibalise their traditional business, rather than capitulating to new disruptive Digital start-ups.

Companies are also digitising their products and services, along with operational processes and customer channels. Over 70 percent of top fortune 500 companies have plans to offer their products as a Digital service by 2020.  Presently, the 10 most valuable start-ups globally are estimated to have a value of $172.7 billion - all embracing Digital platform based business models. Around 90 percent of the business models in 2020 will be driven by the cloud.

Globally, the number of connected devices will nearly quadruple by 2025, significantly altering the skills employers hold most valuable. Increasing connectivity will change how employees choose to work (for example: remotely, part-time, independently, or dispersed), and provide employers with a spectrum of hiring options.

Millennials, most of whom are Digital Natives, will comprise an estimated 48.3 percent of the global labour force in 2025, while those aged 60 and older will comprise 9.9 percent (compared with 7.9 percent in 2015).

The line between what has traditionally been business and IT is becoming more and more blurred. Largely due to the early adoption and impact of Digital marketing, The Chief Marketing Officer or CMO, now controls a bigger “IT” budget and influence than the CIO. This is only set to increase and expand across the organisation, as Digital Natives become future business leaders.

What new skills and expertise will be required to lead and manage the Digital enterprise of the future?

As robots, AI and Digital algorithms continue to replace many jobs and professions; new and emerging professions by 2025 will focus more on human interaction, augmented through Digital mechanisms. Jobs requiring uniquely human characteristics, such as cultural deftness, caretaking, or empathy, and creative thinking, are those least threatened by automation.

The ability to work anywhere, anytime is fuelling the Digital nomad trend, which is highly appealing to millennials, but will also blur political and economic boundaries, and test national labour codes.

Artificial Intelligence, its subfields, and automation will create some specific reflecting trends associated with new and emerging technology advances. Career gains from AI and automation include:

•             Artificial Intelligence technology and automation salesperson

•             Specialist programmers

•             Cybersecurity experts

•             Engineering psychologists

•             Robot and automation technology manufacturer, distributor, servicer, and refurbisher

•             Technology-specific trainer

•             Neuro-implant technicians

•             Virtual health care specialist

•             Virtual reality experience designer

Digital transformation cannot be ignored without becoming irrelevant, and an adaptive Digital strategy is imperative.

The Digital workforce will be largely millennial, and significantly different from today in terms of culture, leadership style and skills. Artificial Intelligence, robots and Digital algorithms will automate many professions, but jobs requiring uniquely human characteristics - or are critical to the development of Digital solutions - will be in great demand by 2025.

A holistic Digital transformation strategy, which considers the Digital workforce along with the business model, process and customer channel dimensions, will be imperative for organisations wishing to remain relevant in the next 10 years

By Wayne Houghton, Director of Growth Implementation Solutions, Frost & Sullivan Africa

African Business Review’s April issue is now live.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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