The long-standing thought, fear, or misunderstanding is that advancing technology will replace humans.
It has been well-documented that this won’t be the case. The aim is to replace the repeated, manual work done on a desktop, denying the employee the chance to focus on more value-added tasks or problem-solving/solution-finding efforts. The expectation set around what technology can accomplish today, in the near and far future really varies by who you are talking to and what they are trying to sell. This technology will never be a panacea. The biggest blocker to its success is not its capability but continues to be “people” and how people use and understand the technology.
I have been implementing and developing software for all my professional life. My first job out of college was implementing Pharmacy Software for MEDITECH, which was tough. Regardless of what the software could or couldn’t do universally, almost every customer I worked with was resistant, even if it worked 100% to spec. There was a myriad of reasons given for this criticism. In some cases, they determined that it didn’t do EXACTLY what their current system did or that it required more work than necessary. Never mind many users came from a stand-alone system and then had to log into several systems to get the information needed. Oftentimes, for example, patients were duplicated and poorly entered. I took it somewhat personally but soon began to understand these employees didn’t like change regardless of what benefit it could bring them or the company they were working for…
Fast forward to today. The problem we face is NO different than in any era of technology. As thought leaders, I think we can easily become enamored with what AI and RPA can do and immediately think everyone can see what we see. While there may be a few exceptions, the better way to think about this slight dilemma is that those of us using the technology and promoting it every day… are really choosing to swim upstream at all times. Resistance is constant and can vary depending on how much water is coming at you. The entire goal is to either lessen the resistance to a trickle or turn the tide entirely and have water push you down the river, establishing momentum. This takes time, early-stage education, and patience.
It’s important to understand that humans can be quite averse to change, and few embrace it without direct feedback externally. They need to “make it work” or have clear evidence that it will work right away. It is my contention that people can be the real roadblock to making AI and RPA work. They will resist until they can’t any longer, or they look like fools doing so. As solution providers, we need to recognize this element before we make any great proclamations or pledge something we can’t deliver. Meet folks where they are and find ways to bridge that knowledge gap.
Written by: Peter Camp, CTO & Founder, CampTek Software