The Impact of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) on the IT Job Market
Original post from https://www.cigen.com.au/cigenblog/
There is no denying that the global labour market is undergoing a process of change caused by drastic demographic changes, which can be rightly labeled a ‘demographic earthquake’. To put it very briefly, the world population is ageing.
According to a report published by the United States Census Bureau in 2016, 2020 will be the first year when people over 65 will outnumber children under 5. It is forecasted that this is, in fact, the beginning of a new demographic trend; thirty years from now, in 2050, there will be 15.6% people over 65, and less than half young children – 7.2%. The sharpening inequality between the number of newborns and that of people older than 65 will have deep economic effects due to a sharp decrease in the labour force.
But if we are collectively growing older, who is going to work? (Read more on this subject in our article about the impact of RPA on the changing global labour market.) It is expected that the scientific and technological advances in the field of robotics may help address this question.
For instance, with robotic process automation deployment, companies can make better use of these shrunken human capital resources, e.g., by directing the employees to embrace non-routine jobs. But are these general considerations applicable as such to IT jobs? In fact, what is the impact of RPA on the IT job market?
In order to better understand the specific effects of automation on the IT job market, we should start from some findings about the future of jobs in general in the context of the digital revolution.
According to the KPMG report Rise of the Humans, currently humans perform 71% of the total tasks, and the rest of 29% are executed by robots. However, the forecast is that until 2025 the distribution of tasks will tend to average out, with 58% of the tasks handled by humans and 42% by machines.
A PwC analysis based on 200,000 existing jobs across 29 countries shows that one third of jobs could be automated by the mid-2030s.
Disproving 7 myths about RPA and IT jobs
It’s rather likely that working people, IT professionals included, may fall prey to the mythology of ‘robots will steal our jobs’. But debunking some prevalent misconceptions might help the IT crews acknowledge that automation is, in fact, what relieves them the burden of routine, tedious tasks.
1. The configuration of RPA requires strong coding skills.
False. All users need to do is to connect process steps via drag and drop principles, and then the code is generated automatically. Therefore, the limited level of programming skills necessary for automation can be achieved relatively easy, by training.
2. RPA is incompatible with underlying computer systems
False. RPA is an additional layer of complexity to the legacy systems, with which it coexists. As opposed to other BPM tools, software robots can use login credentials to access data from the presentation layer without storing it.
3. RPA is invasive
False. Bots simply learn the rules that guide rule based processes and press keys accordingly. There are two kinds of bots: attended or front office ones, working side by side with the staff, and unattended or back office, which can be pre-programmed or automatically prompted by specific events.
4. RPA ‘developers’ write code
False. It’s IT developers who do this, but RPA designers configure RPA software. This is one of the main reasons why it is not recommended to implement RPA in-house.
5. RPA may be beneficial, but it’s costly
False. Just like other BPM solutions, RPA eases IT workloads, but does so in an easier and less expensive manner.
6. RPA forces an ‘either or’ choice between business and IT
False. RPA is most beneficial when, although initiated by the business department, it relies on IT supervision. The collaboration between business and IT units is conducive to a positive impact of robotic process automation.
7. RPA doesn’t fit with existing governance structures
False. RPA decisions and management can typically be integrated in IT governance, at least for the beginning. As automation matures and expands enterprise wise, it is a common best practice to organise a Centre of Excellence.
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How does RPA affect the IT workforce?
Is automating some IT tasks and enabling those outside of IT to create software and intelligently manage IT infrastructure, an alternative to the traditional IT services performed by human employees?
Should we talk about the impact of robotic process automation on IT jobs in terms of a “job killer”? Is RPA a burdensome project that will create extra work and thereby take its toll on the existing resources? These are worrisome questions on the minds of IT specialists, and the list of RPA outcomes below should help to answer it.
1. Employees have more free time to focus on important, intellectually stimulating IT initiatives
Prior to automation, the IT staff had to invest a lot of time in many menial tasks, such as ticket documentation and reporting or routine maintenance. But these are precisely the tasks that go hand in hand with software robots, since they are rule based, high volume, and have a low exception rate.
If these had been passed on to software robots, people could devote more energy to creating innovative technology or solutions, strategic planning, modernizing existing technology, or other such challenging tasks that give voice to human-specific problem solving and creativity. This is likely to lead to a more satisfied IT workforce, delivering more meaningful value and solutions.
2. RPA deployment requires new skills and training from the part of the IT team
Robotic process automation (RPA) redefines workers’ roles. Consider, for instance, the need to manage the interfaces between automated functions and human activity. IT must provide logical access for the robots, in accordance with the same policies that apply to human users. In order to be able to do this proficiently, the workers must be offered sustained training.
The expected result? A higher level of expertise for IT professionals. If properly supported and directed towards their new roles, the RPA implementation will increase professionals’ productivity. Improved STEM skills, for example, will be crucial for allowing IT people to accomplish high technology tasks.
3. Automation enhances the visibility of IT departments
The expertise of the IT teams is what helps organisations to find the most appropriate tasks to be automated to begin with, and further, to develop across-system interfaces that foster scaling RPA deployment. But if RPA contributes to raising the profile of IT departments, it’s implicit that it is not to be perceived as a potential replacement of these units, rather as an opportunity awaiting to be put to good use.
The labour market of the future will require less manual and routine jobs; therefore highly qualified and skilled human employees will be better able to focus on high-profile emerging jobs.
This is, in a nutshell, the forecasted state of affairs that captures the impact of RPA on the IT job market. RPA can thus be considered a decisive measure to prevent not only the decreasing workforce due to the ‘demographic earthquake’, but also related problems, such as poor job quality or vulnerable employment.
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