Other parts of this series:
- Financial services firms have yet to tap the full potential of intelligent robotic process automation
- Managers set to benefit as robotic process automation systems learn how to give smart advice
- Managers hail intelligent machines but have doubts about their own skills
- Managers’ mistrust of intelligent machines could stall the rise of workforce automation
- Business leaders must inspire and equip their managers so they can work effectively alongside intelligent machines
While most managers believe intelligent machines will improve their work, many don’t trust the abilities of these automation systems. They’re also not clear about how intelligent machines should be incorporated into the workplace. Such attitudes could hamper the acceptance of intelligent robotic process automation (RPA) systems.
There’s little doubt that intelligent RPA systems can significantly boost the performance of all categories of managers.
Our research shows that business leaders, including the heads of financial services firms, recognize the enormous potential of these “intelligent machines”. Most managers, too, acknowledge that intelligent automation can help them work better and also make their work more interesting. This is important. Organizations won’t be able to successfully introduce intelligent machines among their managers if the managers they’re intended to help resist them.
However, we found that some of the attitudes currently held by managers could hamper the roll-out of intelligent machines at the top levels of organizations. This threatens to limit the ability of businesses to achieve the performance benefits this new technology promises.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, many managers are unsure whether they have the necessary skills to thrive in a workplace inhabited with intelligent machines. Furthermore, they wrongly identify all the skills they need to acquire. They focus on technology and business skills but neglect interpersonal relations. Social networking, people development and collaborative skills are going to be essential in the increasingly automated workplace.
There are two other big hurdles.
Trust: While most managers think intelligent machines will make them more effective and ensure their work is more interesting, few of them actually trust these systems. Only 14 percent of first-line managers and 24 percent of middle managers would readily trust the advice of intelligent systems in making business decisions. By contrast, 46 percent of senior executives would trust such advice. Mistrust was highest among managers in developed economies; probably fuelled by privacy concerns. Managers in banks, together with their counterparts in electronics and high-tech firms, are more fearful of losing their jobs because of cognitive computing than leaders in other industries. Their peers in the insurance industry were among those who felt most secure.
Without managers’ trust, intelligent machines will do little to improve business performance. Confidence in these systems could be built by explaining how they function, choosing systems with proven track records and ensuring that they explain their logic when making decisions.
Value: Most managers believe the greatest value of intelligent machines lies in their ability to augment their work. Not automate it. Of 11 key management tasks, only monitoring and reporting performance was identified as a good candidate for automation. There are boundless opportunities to use intelligent systems to support managers in the workplace. However, there are few well-travelled paths. Early adopters will have to chart their own course.
The potential for intelligent machines to lift the performance of managers is huge. Obstacles to the successful roll-out of these systems need to be addressed. But organizations that take the lead in empowering their managers with support from cognitive computing systems are likely to become increasingly agile, innovative and successful.
In my next blog post I’ll discuss some essential steps to the successful roll-out of intelligent workforce automation systems. In the meantime, have a look at these links. I think you’ll find them worthwhile.