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‘The good news: automation can help’

by Marco van der Hoeven

Organization face a broad spectrum of challenges. A major challenge is the Great Resignation. In the UK for example 43% of office workers are considering resigning from their jobs within the next months. As a result others are having to take up multiple new tasks, resulting in feelings of exhaustion. This means automation is becoming a top priority for C-level executives. Rocking Robots sat down with Gavin Mee, MD of Northern Europe at UiPath, to discuss these trends.

How do you view the current state of automation in Northern Europe, as compared to other regions?  

Many enterprises in Northern Europe have been early adopters of software automation and their automation journeys are more mature due to the fact that they are embracing it as a strategic technology on a very competitive business landscape. In fact, the region, including the UK, is home to some of UiPath’s major customers, both in the private and public sector, across a wide variety of industries.

Some of these customers include TomTom, Heineken, Teleperformance, and Etex, a Belgian building material company. These businesses are using automation to deliver value faster, more easily and in a cost-effective way. For example, both TomTom and Etex are leading the charge with multi-disciplinary approaches to deliver automation success. Elsewhere, Heineken has implemented a Federated Model as part of its vision based on value-driving.

How do industries compare, eg finance and HR?

The great thing about automation is that it’s very industry-neutral, and can apply to business units as diverse as finance, HR, IT and across most industries. For example, UiPath customer Kepak in Ireland implemented a software robot within its finance team, automating 10 different processes. This has resulted in 15,000 hours of work saved a year. In the Nordics, construction company Skanska is able to return 10,000 hours to its HR team each year by automating processes such as payroll data processing.

What are the main challenges your customers are facing at this moment and how is automation helping? 

One of the big issues facing businesses today is the Great Resignation. Businesses are struggling to retain talent, and those employees who do remain face increased pressure as their colleagues depart. In fact, recent research from UiPath found that 43% of UK office workers are considering resigning from their jobs within the next six months. As a result, a vast majority (83%) are having to take up multiple new tasks outside of their job descriptions, resulting in feelings of exhaustion.

The good news is that the research is clear: automation can help. Pressure on work/life balance and spending too much time on dull administrative tasks were cited as key reasons for workers quitting their jobs globally. At the same time, 57% of global office workers felt the majority of their workdays were being eaten up by doing monotonous tasks that could be automated. This presents a huge opportunity for our customers to combat the effects of the Great Resignation: automating processes within their businesses helps free up time for their time-pressured employees, and encourages them to stay in their roles.

What is the role of technologies like process mining, task mining and AI in existing use cases? 

Process mining uses the digital footprints left behind in a business’s systems and applications to show everything that happens within its processes. This helps pinpoint process pain points and bottlenecks and can even highlight the resulting cost to the organisation.

On the other hand, task mining automatically identifies and aggregates employee workflows, then applies AI to help identify repetitive tasks and process variations. This enables a business to understand how work gets done and what needs to improve, while accelerating its automation pipeline.

Both these technologies can enhance the depth and reach of a company’s automation project, allowing automation to become the backbone of the digitalization project, and ensuring that the impact on the organization is profound and highly transformational.

What are the pitfalls organizations need to avoid, in order the reap the full benefits of automation? 

One main pitfall that we see quite often is that organisations leave automation to the final step of their business transformation process. Typically, when businesses are implementing a new platform, they think they need to wait until the system is fully onboarded before considering automation – an ‘automation last’ approach.

In reality, this is often an ineffective approach. Firstly, it means employees have to be trained and re-trained every time a change is introduced, whereas if automation is introduced from the start, then only one round of training is needed. Secondly, onboarding processes can sometimes take months – valuable time that’s wasted running ineffective processes.

Instead, businesses must take an ‘automation first’ approach to accelerate process changes in a less disruptive manner. In addition, by adopting an automation first mindset, employees can design processes that are fir for automation from the get-go.

What will Automation Cloud mean for your customers?   

UiPath’s Automation Cloud provides our customers with a comprehensive automation foundation to achieve fast and accurate outcomes. In May this year, we introduced Automation Cloud Robots, which allow customers to deploy unattended robots instantly without IT, resources or infrastructure. The unattended bot can incorporate our customers’ software and configurations, and scales as needed. Furthermore, the latest release prioritises frictionless development. With speedier performance, expanded integration options, and low-code tools and templates, it removes friction and complexity from the development process.

What is your ambition for UiPath in 2022 in Northern Europe?  

My goal is to grow our customer base and help existing customers scale, as automation becomes increasingly vital in a modern business environment. Additionally, expanding our partner network Is key to helping bring the benefits of automation to employees across an even wider array of organisations, with  extra focus on healthcare and the public sector.

Finally, it’s a priority for me to expand our learning ecosystem through our Academic Alliance. Automation will be the norm for the workforce of the future, so we need to ensure that the next generation is equipped with the skills they will need for an automated world.

Gavin Mee is a speaker at UiPath’s TOGETHER Amsterdam event, coming up on 14 June, where he will moderate a panel which features UiPath customers TomTom and Etex.  Register here to attend the one-day automation event at Theater Amsterdam.


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