Why is the Covid Pandemic Accelerating Organization’s Digital Agendas?

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The unfortunate reality of the current job market is that as millions of people are being furloughed, not all of them will be re-employed when America opens again. Friday, the unemployment rate hit 14.7% while just three months ago it was as at an all-time low of 3.6%. In April alone there were 20.5M jobs lost. The hope is that that number falls as we reopen the country.

So, what’s different now versus just a few years ago? Over 30,000 Companies have started their digital agenda on experimenting in deployment of what technologists call the Digital Workforce. Sounds a bit like a George Orwell book? Well, it’s actually fueled by something called RPA or Robotics Process Automation. The RPA market- if you haven’t followed it, is the fastest growing software sector that ever was!!! That’s right. The RPA space is growing faster than any sub segment followed by Gartner since this such thing has been measured. Why? Because these intelligent robotic software bots can replace mundane jobs that often require expensive workers to perform. Bots on average cost 82 cents an hour. This is the easiest ROI CFO’s have had to examine in decades. The compelling argument is to employ a digital bot for any job that doesn’t require a true human type of interaction. Humans are required when creativity, critical thinking or human judgement is necessary. Outside of that- forward thinking organizations are deploying bots at a staggering pace. One particular Global 100 Company with whom we work has over 550 of these bots that work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They have an edict from their Chairman to continue with this agenda aggressively until they cannot avoid hiring a human. This is what Gartner calls the automation first era. It’s a bold move but think about the efficiency that they’ve gained. They also have much higher employee satisfaction because those bots are removing the day to day grind of doing mundane repetitive “robotic like jobs” humans dislike. Eliminating the mundane from people’s jobs allows them to focus on the things that really matter – the things that add value to an organization – all while giving employees infinitely more job satisfaction.

I spoke to an old friend last week, Steve Duplessie from the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). I’ve always respected his perspective and he’s suggesting that this RPA market has the ability to outgrow the storage market boom we saw during the 90s. I participated in that market and thought I’d never see growth like that again. That was a bold statement from Steve.

The interesting thing I saw last Friday that jumped out at me was while the government issued the worst monthly job loss report ever, the Dow rose 450 points. Do you think that people are less worried today on unemployment data or do some believe that organizations are more resilient and prepared because they started their digital journey a few years ago? Regardless of what you think- this is true: The world has changed forever. Nothing will be the same as we reopen. Expect to see things that you were not prepared for and adapt quickly. Companies and organizations are going to need to pursue cost cutting and efficiency measures like never before. As we saw two of the nation’s largest retailers file for bankruptcy last week, both of which have been around longer than me, are probably gone forever. They certainly did not create a digital agenda aggressively enough. Those that have more aggressively pursued digital transformation initiatives are in a much better position to capture share when the world comes back online – those who ignored the signs will lose.

No one foresaw this pandemic – but that doesn’t mean we can stop doing business. We have to adapt to the new realities before us.

This blog is not intended to instill fear but rather a reminder that every business will eventually be disrupted.

Stay safe and stay relevant and remember “The last one to become obsolete wins”.