The digital workforce

The digital workforce is a phrase that has recently been coined to describe a variety of robotic and automated solutions for driving productivity efficiencies in the workplace. Some of these technologies are in their early stages of development, while others are coming to maturity and undergoing mass adoption by businesses.

In most cases, the digital workforce will not be a physical embodiment of a digital worker. Rather a virtual robot (software) that will be either working in the background or accessed by consumers and co-workers through a command based interface.

For businesses, the introduction of Robotics Process Automation (RPA) has allowed substantial reductions in headcount in traditionally highly manual and cost-intensive processes. WorkFusion, an intelligent automation platform, allows clients to have automation rates of up to 60% on some teams, freeing up resources to focus on value-add activities.

For customers, they may be exposed to robots via a chat function on instant messaging (IM) or through a website, however conversational automation (known as natural language processing) is currently undergoing significant development. WeChat is a leading example of successful deployment of chat bots, with a broad range of organisations using this digital capability to reach consumers.

Today’s fast-moving digital economy will reward the early movers that have already commenced their automation journey with brisk movement up the learning curve. As workers learn to interact with robots – a
relationship that will become mutually beneficial if developed effectively – we will see greater stability and definition of internal governance in the new digital workforce.

The introduction of the digital workforce for most workplaces is likely to occur in a series of evolutions. These evolutions can be broken down into the following categories, differentiated by the
computing complexity of the solution :

  • Evolution 1 – Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • Evolution 2 – Cognitive computing
  • Evolution 3 – Artificial intelligence