Augmenting the workforce

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Intelligent automation is exposing rich seams of information that an augmented workforce can mine and exploit to an ever-greater degree.

The “augmented workforce” is a term we are hearing increasingly often these days, but the concept is hardly new. Think, for example, of the cotton mills of the Industrial Revolution. Scores of looms were driven not by the millworkers, who had other tasks, but by a series of steam-powered belts resulting in a larger production output, higher quality, and new ways of working combining humans and machines.

As time passes, what perhaps started with the simple application of RPA is evolving much further, and much faster. For example, Capgemini’s Cognitive Document Processing is helping financial institutions accelerate contract evaluation, customer onboarding, and claims processing, generating tangible top-line growth outcomes, increased customer satisfaction, and sizable bottom-line improvements.

Non-FS organizations are also realizing measurable benefits from the application of intelligent automation combining RPA, AI, and analytics. For example, a leading UK-listed water utility business recently tested an AI platform to analyze large data sets on factors such as weather, demand for water, pump performance, and electricity prices. The information is used to make decisions on the most cost-effective and efficient way to run pumps, detect burst pipes, and minimize the risk of discolored water. During the trial, the utility saw energy savings of 22%.

When A + B is greater than itself

However, as the cotton mill example shows us, it’s important not just that technology delivers benefits like these, but that it does so in concert with the human workforce. That’s where AI can really take off – when you combine it with people, you create an outcome that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Capgemini has been developing a methodology that orchestrates tasks between people and machines – whichever of them is most appropriate in individual cases. It comprises three steps:

  • Identifying tasks that can be performed better and/or faster with AI
  • Measuring the value that AI can add
  • Designing human-in-the-loop solutions when the expected efficiency is not reached by machines alone

The term “orchestration” is a good one, because implicit in it is a sense of fluidity – areas and occasions when, as it were, either people or technology will be playing solo, and other times and places when they will be playing together.

The algorithms we use gauge possible outcomes and use formulae to create human-in-the-loop solutions in which the process efficiency is better than machine-only, but is achieved at a cost that is much lower than person-only. This truly is augmentation in action.

Real-world benefits

We’re working with clients to build an augmented workforce approach in functions including finance, the supply chain, human resources, and contact centers, to name just a few. We help them identify their need and shape their response; we create a model for them; and we help them execute it, so as to achieve the outcome they seek.

It’s paying real dividends, and not just for the business, either. As this new approach to tasks consolidates itself, we’re seeing the workforce change. People are acquiring and using skillsets that didn’t even exist a few years ago. Why? Partly because the technology requires an understanding of the new world of intelligent automation, and partly because people are now freed from the repetitive tasks of yesterday, and are able to focus on the increased value they can bring to the business requirements of today and tomorrow.

Intelligent automation is streamlining processes, and is weaving itself into the fabric of the modern enterprise, thereby benefiting the organization, the workforce and the customer alike. In a way, perhaps, we’re not so far from the cotton mill with which this piece opened.

To learn more about how Capgemini’s Intelligent Process Automation  offering can stimulate the erosion of organizational silos around your front, middle and back-office processes, resulting in the emergence of a new, borderless, highly automated client-centric organization, contact: adam.bujak@capgemini.com

Read more about how Capgemini’s Cash Collections Assistant powered by Artificial Intelligence recently won the “best virtual agent solution” by AI Breakthrough.

Dr. Adam Bujak is an expert in intelligent automation, business process transformation and strategic management. He heads Capgemini’s Business Services’ Intelligent Automation Practice, helping multinational clients to embrace the future of an augmented workforce in the front, middle, and back office.

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