Study: Software 'Robots' Improving Business Operations

March 26, 2015
By: Casey Houser

A recent study from Cognizant (News - Alert), a provider of information technology and business process outsourcing services, concludes that software “robots” are having a positive impact on the operations of businesses across the globe.

In this context, robots refer to nearly anything that computers can automate in business. This includes machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the processing of big data. Within its study, Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work completed a poll of 537 senior business officials and heads of technology in a range of sectors. The collective opinion, the group found, was that those officials agreed that intelligent process automation and big data mining was able to help businesses run more efficiently and therefore could allow them to commit fewer errors, scale without hindrance, and reduce costs as a matter of course.

Gajen Kandiah, the executive vice president of Business Process Services at Cognizant, commented on the nature of work and how software robots have affected it in recent years.

“The future of process work includes connecting skilled people to increasingly powerful technologies such as autonomic computing -- including artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning -- that can increase savings, enhance insights, and accelerate business. This shift is playing out in just about every industry,” Kandiah said.

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Although process automation and intelligence derived from big data may not pose a surprise to anyone as he or she considers a single business sector, the consideration of multiple sectors could turn some heads. Cognizant listed financial, insurance, healthcare, retail, and technology among the many types of businesses that have found themselves affected by software robots. Business intelligence and big data is everywhere.

Respondents to the study said they believed that 25 percent to 40 percent of their workdays included such software robots and that their use of intelligent software could pave the way toward even greater usage. Nearly half of the respondents said they also believed automation of this type would improve their businesses within the next three to five years. Health insurers reported the greatest costs savings as a result of automation, and the banking sector displayed significant analytics-backed revenue growth.

Beyond the projections of business improvement, cost savings, and growth of revenue, there is also the element of employee satisfaction to consider. Although the software robots are doing many tasks for people that were once manual processes—therefore posing a risk to the future of manual positions—Cognizant also points to improved job satisfaction as a benefit of automation. The tasks that employees complete with or without computer aid should run more smoothly. Everyday tasks may cause fewer headaches because there is less buildup of menial work and fewer errors to correct. Employees can complete a task just once and rely on software to point out any missteps so any mistakes will not come back weeks later and hold up production.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino