Intelligent automation works best with cultural transformation

Jason Sutton Profile picture for user Jason Sutton June 4, 2018
As intelligent automation spreads through the enterprise, business leaders must make sure it's accompanied by cultural transformation for best results, writes ServiceNow's Jason Sutton

ServiceNow intelligent automation
There’s a whole lot of digital platform shifting going on right now as we move to the new world of work empowered by software and information services. But what I’m particularly curious to see is, what happens inside digital transformation processes — in terms of how all these new tools start to really impact our daily lives in the workplace and beyond.

While technology is having a positive impact by driving us forward, it’s important that we stop and ask what kind of cultural shift is happening at the human level. What matters is how leadership reacts to these platform shifts and works to open up new routes to transformation and change for individuals and teams.

AI as a catalyst for cultural change

If we look at how artificial intelligence (AI) is being applied in the workplace by major enterprise players like Google (to take one example out of many), we can see how automation is being embedded into the fabric of the way large organisations operate every day.

If a process or a task or some component part of operations can be improved through intelligent automation, then it should be. In doing so we can make the world of work better.

Whenever we talk about the application of AI and automation, it’s always important to remember that AI doesn’t put us humans out of a job. Instead, it can be positively used as a force for change to remove the mundane and repetitive elements of business.

If we do this effectively, we can evolve to a higher level — one where individuals can enhance their skillsets in new roles as the workplace become more highly orchestrated and automated.

Again it comes back to leadership here. Captains of industry (and everybody down to the small- to medium-sized business owner) need to start looking at what intelligent automation and AI does for the workforce as we welcome its oncoming enablement factors.

Leaders also need to remember that this oncoming enablement will necessitate a shift of resources. Business managers need to start thinking strategically about re-architecting their operational core for a new world of work.

That re-architecting should never be a ‘lift and shift’ operation. Simply moving old systems over to the cloud means you have an archaic system running on a digital platform. We need to look for new work channels, new work career paths and more expanded skillsets to support the rise of the new workplace.

At a human level, there is a responsibility to look for people with a modernisation mindset. We need to help leaders know how to look for the employees who are ready for change in any given organisation.

Empowering digital workers

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. And even when companies operate with people who aren’t ready for change, there is no need to force the issue. Instead, it is important for enterprise leadership to focus on the higher-level mission that will ultimately drive digital transformation forward.

At a more granular level, leaders should also look for individually-identified efficiency opportunities across all lines of business and evaluate the impact of AI on these functions so that they can be positively exploited.

The best performing companies are doing this, but they are executing these programmes with empathy towards the human workplace culture. They invest time in working out how they can empower employees to take career advancements in their own hands based on a reflection of their own digital roadmap.

As we go from ideation to value with intelligent automation, we need to adapt to a much more orchestrated and automated world of work. As each idea goes through agile prototyping, we can iterate quickly to make sure we put proof-of-concept ideas through the demand cycle, ultimately ensuring we validate operations before they happen.

We can then build controls to make sure all the project work we develop ends up positively impacting not only the bottom line, but also people’s work experiences.

The time has come for technology to have a genuinely positive impact on people’s careers and work environment. Data is obviously of huge value, but it’s important to remember that data alone is not enough unless we know how to harness its intelligence and then embed it into our cultural practices for the future.

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