3 ways robotics affects the CIO role 

How will robotic process automation impact the CIO in 2018? Consider these implications
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As 2017 comes to a close, many CIOs are solidifying their goals for 2018. Perhaps yours involve robotic process automation (RPA.) For years, RPA has been a distant concept for many companies. But as organizations are forced to become ever more nimble and efficient, the potential benefits of RPA bear examining. 

According to a recent survey by Redwood Software and Sapio Research, IT decision makers believe that 59 percent of business processes can be automated in the next five years, creating new speed and efficiency while relieving their human counterparts of repetitive manual workloads. However, 20 percent of companies with more than 1000 employees currently have no RPA strategy in place.

For CIOs, RPA has implications for your role in the business and for your team. Here are three ways that the role of the CIO and other IT decision makers can change as RPA gains prominence in 2018:

Added opportunity to be strategic change agents

As the pressure grows to do more with less, internal processes matter greatly. In every enterprise, employees across departments are performing critical – yet mundane – tasks every single day. These tasks may be boring and repetitive, but they must be performed quickly, and often with no room for error.

[ For advice on maximizing your automation strategy's ROI, see our related article, How to improve ROI on automation: 4 tips. ]

From back-office operations in finance to procurement, supply chain, accounting, customer service, and human resources, nearly every position within an organization is plagued with at least some monotonous tasks. For CIOs, this opens up an opportunity to unite the business with IT and spearhead strategic change with RPA.

Having evolved far beyond screen-scraping technology of the past, robots are now customizable, plug-and-play solutions that can be built to an organization’s specific needs. With such a process-centric approach, companies can automate not only tasks previously executed by humans, but also application and system-specific tasks, such as ERP and other enterprise applications.

Enabling a greater level of automation for end-to-end processes is where the value lies. CIOs will be on the front line of this opportunity.

Renewed focus on people and training 

Technology shifts can be unnerving to employees, especially when these changes involve automating substantial portions of their daily duties. The CIO should articulate how RPA will change roles and responsibilities for the better, and fuel data-driven, strategic decisions that will ultimately impact the bottom line.

When implementing RPA, it’s important to convey that humans will always be critical to the success of the organization, and that success requires the right balance of technology and human skills.

CIOs should also analyze workflow and implement better processes that go beyond mimicking end-user specific tasks. Through end-to-end process automation, CIOs can enable employees to shine.

Because it will be important to upskill and retrain employees throughout the automation process, CIOs must be prepared to collaborate with the C-suite to determine training programs that help employees navigate the change with confidence.

Demand for long-term thinking

To succeed with robotic process automation, brands must take a long-term approach. This will require a scalable solution, which in turn will benefit the entire business model, including customers. When Amazon introduced faster delivery options for Prime customers, for example, it didn’t just retool the entire order fulfillment process in its warehouses; it automated its online customer experience to make it simpler, faster, and easier than ever for consumers to place orders.

In the coming year, CIOs can approach technology in the same way, architecting holistic solutions to change the way an organization operates. Reducing headcount will net only so much in bottom-line results, but process automation allows CIOs to think bigger through optimization and empowerment. This approach gives CIOs the opportunity to build credibility for the long haul, for themselves and for RPA. This in turn will enhance the CIO’s role as a navigator and contributor to the organization's overall success.

For CIOs, taking a long-term, strategic approach to RPA success takes time and hard work. Nevertheless, CIOs who commit the time to create a strategy that balances manpower and technology will deliver value now and in the future.

As President of Redwood Software, Dennis Walsh is responsible for North America, LATAM and South America as well as Asia Pacific operations. With more than 20 years of experience in the software and computer services industries, he has previously held executive and management positions at SiteLite Corporation, IBM, Ross Systems, Inc. and Automatic Data Processing, Inc.


Good pointers for CIOs to take note of with regards to Robotic Process Automation (RPA)..