written by Marco van der Hoeven
A growing number of organizations turn to technology to achieve business benefits and to enable Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs. The IDC white paper – Automation as a Force for Good – 6 Steps to Transform Theory into Practice explores pathways for how automation can be used to benefit the economy, society, and the environment.
Margareta Mucibabici, Public Affairs Manager at UiPath, who was involved in the research leading to the whitepaper, explains how companies can leverage automation to accelerate their mission and contribute to higher value creation. “First off, automation is about accelerating human achievement,” she says. “And when thinking about accelerating human achievement, we also look at the technology that we develop, how we put it to use, how we contribute to changing the future of work. It’s about putting people at the center of digital transformation.”
This touches upon the discussion about the actual meaning of automation for good. “How do we leverage automation to help organizations attain a positive impact? It goes beyond measuring efficiency, productivity, and the traditional return on investment. When we take an ‘automation for good’ approach, we are also looking at ways in which technology can improve the lives of people and benefit society as a whole,” Mucibabici explains.
United Nations SDG
The IDC report describes how automation can help organizations to incorporate more responsible business practices and advance the United Nations Sustainability and Development Goals (SDGs). Mucibabici explains: “The IDC report analyzes the role of automation in the context of the UN SDGs, which businesses frequently use as a framework for setting their ESG goals. The report also describes the trends we’ve seen in the past and how automation is evolving. What are the benefits of using this technology, and how should we implement it in order to reap the benefits and increase the impact? The research illustrates these aspects also by looking into specific use cases of organizations that have implemented automation with this approach in mind.”
Mucibabici says there are several inspiring examples. For instance, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) where automation is being used to help visually impaired employees work with IT systems and applications by using speech interfaces.. “CDCR has used automation to streamline administrative processes and improve compliance, but they also used this technology to help visually-impaired employees. I think this is an extremely powerful example that can be easily replicated.” Another example is UiPath’s own IT organization that use its own automation tools to streamline IT helpdesk processes and make computing resource usage more efficient.
How can businesses leverage automation to achieve such benefits for their own employees? “I don’t think there’s one way to achieve this. But there are some key ingredients mentioned in the assessment tool that was developed together with the whitepaper,” Mucibabici says. “Once you have a shared vision on how you can leverage technology to achieve a positive impact, you can also connect it to other ongoing priorities within your organization, such as the ESG strategy. For example, adding a sustainability goal to the automation agenda can expand the art of the possible for this technology.”
Mucibabici continues, “a next step is to look at the current practices around automation. How are the teams internally organized? Are people talking to each other and are best practices shared within the teams? Communication fosters innovation. One of the interesting findings from this research is that in order to maximize positive returns, you need to bring people with different expertise in the same room. Sustainability experts wouldn’t necessarily work with automation on a daily basis. But when you combine their expertise with that of your automation experts, for example, in an automation Center of Excellence (CoE), there’s great innovation potential. And becoming more familiar with these technologies can also help other business units that don’t necessarily work with automation on a daily basis.”
Building on momentum
Internal communication is another crucial element for driving engagement: “More and more employees feel connected to organizations that have ESG goals. They want to become involved, to become part of initiatives around automation for good. Such an initiative helps boost employee engagement, improves the work of employees, and creates a positive culture within an organization. And, last but not least, correct and adapt. Make sure that things you have started with are still accurate and relevant for your organization.”
She concludes: “We have built significant momentum around automation for good. But it’s really important to go beyond the theory and see how to put things into practice. That is where we believe the white paper will help – in increasing the awareness of the benefits of leveraging automation for good, especially as we’re working towards improving resilience and ensuring an inclusive recovery from COVID-19. Now we can redesign how things work to create a more inclusive future, create more opportunities for employees and become more sustainable. This is a critical moment.”
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