How Will the Pandemic Impact the Future of Work?

As the pandemic forces many staff to work remotely, it really is shaping the future of work – with more AI-enabled digital tools being incorporated to equip employees with ways to automate and enhance business processes.

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Surprisingly, an IDC survey only last year unmasked that very nearly one-in-three workers in offices would not delegate any work to AI (27 percent). A third meanwhile didn’t feel AI could perform a better job than them on any task (32 percent).

What about software robots?

Fast forward per year, and the change in working behavior means employees’ fear of robots taking their jobs is subsiding. Companies are actually realizing the benefit of assistance from “digital workers,” aka robotic process automation (RPA) computer software robots.

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These alleged bots augment tasks and help employees expedite customer-facing and revenue-generating processes, such as for instance onboarding, accounts payable, claims, shipping and logistics, and customer inquiries.

The IDC survey did make sure workers could be happy to pay “boring” jobs like data entry, electronic filing, and reviewing long documents. “Happy to hand over ‘boring jobs’” is fortunate because it’s clear the advent of AI, machine learning, and advanced cognitive technologies means more digital workers will soon be joining the office.

The IDC white paper revealed that the number of digital workers entering the workforce is anticipated to leap by 50 per cent by the end of next year.

So what is the impact of the pandemic? Will we be seeing even more digital workers in the enterprise as a result? It seems so. However, is currently a time to examine change inside your business?

Do your processes already work well — and could it be time to change?

It can often have a crisis to appreciate broken processes, failures in a system, or better ways to achieve things, learn and create.

Indeed, many companies “think” they know how their processes work, yet it really is far from reality. Rather than rely on a manager’s assumptions, opinion or bias, you will find cloud solutions that provide an in-depth visualization and analysis of processes.

Tools to evaluate current productivity and processes.

These tools have the ability to evaluate your current processes in their “as-is” state so process automation teams can clearly set ROI expectations, assure agile service delivery and make certain that automation efforts do not produce any unintended consequences.


The healthcare industry is a prime example of the importance of process intelligence tools during this pandemic when the flow of information from different sources is critical to speedy and effective patient care.

Consider the challenges posed by a process’ scope such as for instance orderly and efficient patient flow, timely processing of a lab test or the reading of a chest X-Ray. Accurately processing a treatment plan or the performance of many hundreds of other processes executed thousands of times daily is critical.

The challenge is aggravated since, in several of these examples, the information (data) related to the execution of each step may be stored across multiple different systems (EMR, LIS, RIS, PACS, ERP, etc.). Consequently, there is no central application that will provide a comprehensive view of the process histories.

With actionable insight in to processes, healthcare leaders will make data-driven decisions and strategically optimize daily operations.

Remote workers.

The same is true of many business-critical processes in a organization, that has suddenly are more crucial in this time of social distancing.

The influx of remote workers has shined a spotlight on specific processes that threaten the continuity of business, particularly as they connect with content-centric processes. Think of all the invoice processing, customer service requests, account openings or inquiries, and claims being filed.

Having access to these documents and systems and ensuring no interruption operating is critical to an organization’s bottom line. These types of forms and business processes would normally require manual input or monitoring. But the use of digital workers augments the human worker with digital intelligence to expedite processes.

Which business process in your organization is just a candidate for automation?

All business processes aren’t created equal, some are critical to the survival and growth of your company, while some aren’t. Some eat up costly resources — some do not.

There really are a few qualifications that make a procedure a good candidate for automation.

  • The process follows rules-based logic, as opposed to human judgment-based decisions
  • The process is repetitive and might be vulnerable to human error
  • The process follows a definite set of instructions
  • If there is input data, it really is digitized or can be with methods such as for instance OCR

It is very important to note that the majority of processes that represent automation opportunities depend on unstructured data (e.g., invoices, orders, applications, etc.), which is not just a core capability of RPA products.

Unstructured data is much more significant considering that 90 percent of enterprise content is unstructured, and growing up to 65 percent each year, according to Cognilytica. The capability to understand this trove of unstructured data requires that document capture technology must be seamlessly integrated with RPA digital workers to transform unstructured data in to structured content to be properly used in business processes.

Should Digital Transformation Projects Pause?

At emergency times like this, companies realize they can not afford to prevent digital transformation projects, or they risk not being agile enough during the next crisis and delivering poor customer experiences.

Many executives are currently safeguarding their projects by leveraging low-code cloud solutions that may identify process bottlenecks, power automation, and infuse AI.

It’s the same scenario for sophisticated mobile capabilities, such as for instance mobile web capture, SDKs, and mobile PDF productivity tools, that have become a main concern as offices, stores, and banks close, leaving much of the interaction via smartphones.

To maintain business continuity now is a period to reevaluate your company’s mobile strategy.

Providing clients with a frictionless mobile onboarding experience – from account openings, registering with a doctor, applying for credit cards, or to gain an insurance quote – is no longer an added bonus.

You must provide a smooth, seamless, fully integral customer experience starting from their very first interactions. That means being able to move easily in one channel to some other, ensuring the process isn’t too lengthy, reducing typing requirements, while not having to download a native app to complete the process — otherwise, you risk abandonment.

What about mobile processes?

Also, evaluate how seamless your mobile processes integrate with back-end systems. Most consumers have a smartphone in their pocket, and by 2025 millennials will make up 75 per cent of the workforce, this means onboarding processes will need to reflect the new mobile generation who are embracing the future of work.

Businesses understand they should meet their customers where they are and engage with them in the most personalized way possible. In essence, this will determine their survival in a very competitive digital transformation market landscape, and also this unprecedented time when social distancing is raising digital expectations on all forms of technology.

Should you invest now?

According to a research firm, IDC technology workers with AI skills are being spared the current wave of layoffs and in actual fact may see occupations. IDC estimates that the number of AI jobs globally could increase by as much as 16 percent this season, reaching 969,000, driven by stronger demand for AI workers as businesses contend with the impact of the pandemic and plan the future of work.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are emerging across the globe.

Along with AI and ML, workers are finally ready to augment their use digital workers. Within enterprises specifically, RPA, for example, is ultimately about using computer software to automate repetitive, high-volume process tasks that would have once required a human effort.

It shifts the worker to more intellectual work. Instead of people expending hours completing manual repetitive tasks, they can leverage RPA to spotlight work that needs human ingenuity and creativity.

The good thing is that employees now working remotely are receiving used to relying on digital tools and embracing their new assistants. As they become more knowledgeable about these tools, they’ll be much more open to incorporating solutions that augment their work.

No longer will there be a fear AI will replace them, and they’ll be open to how AI can enhance their roles with content and process intelligence, which will be a simple part of the future of work.

As more states and countries order shelter in place, ban social gatherings and push for zero-touch options for picking right on up essentials like medical and food supplies — we’re having to adjust to getting work done through virtualization.

What this ultimately means is that work from home, and social distancing is a new paradigm for social and business interactions, where the point of both is always to eliminate as numerous at-risk interactions as humanly possible.

Accordingly, we already are seeing how digital transformation can be the umbrella for making this work. Where safe distance, even isolation, are mandated to help flatten the curve of this virus, AI, digital workers, and virtualization technologies, including accelerated use of mobile and app-driven interactions, will end up a necessity in doing business today.

The enterprise, even as we know, it’s going to never be the same again. Don’t miss the AI train — it’s time to check out the future.

Bruce Orcutt

Bruce Orcutt is VP of Product Marketing at ABBYY, a Digital Intelligence company. He helps companies to gain complete understanding of their business and raise their Digital IQ.

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