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Companies might look to bring in a new set of workforce after Covid-19 crisis — Bots

Apr 21, 2020, 15:19 IST
Business Insider India

  • Most HR experts believe that Covid-19 is the best time to do test runs of bots.
  • The bots would be better equipped to work remotely — and they will not fall sick.
  • Many remote working and learning companies are using ‘Answer Bot’ service and are able to resolve nearly nine times as many customer queries, said Zendesk.
  • “I expect to see an increasing demand for RPA and in particular AI based systems that will make informed decisions to ‘keep the lights on’ when humans may not be able to run operations due to any unforeseen event,” said Vishwesh Padmanabhan, digital consulting head at KPMG in India.
As the economic downturn looms large in view of the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses across verticals are set to embrace digital technology and invest in bots and virtual assistants now more than ever.

That’s because the bots would be better equipped to work remotely — and they will not fall sick. Most HR experts believe that Covid-19 is the best time to do test runs of bots.

“For most organizations this is a good time to do test runs as there is some amount of disruption in the routine working model. Most of the organizations will invest in bots more, post coronavirus crisis,” Sunil C, specialized staffing head at TeamLease Digital told Business Insider.

Seems like the companies are already expanding their digital footprint. Many remote working and learning companies are using ‘Answer Bot’ service and are able to resolve nearly nine times as many customer queries, said Zendesk. This has been happening since March, according to online web support and live chats.

“Companies experiencing the biggest changes include remote work and learning, telecommunications, and food delivery companies, who have been ramping up with AI to take some of the pressure off agents and allow customers to find what they need, as soon as they need it,” Zendesk report said.

Virtual assistants — an intellectual solution

With the outbreak of Coronavirus, most companies were caught off guard as they were not prepared for the sudden rise in the number of support requests — and had limited staff to spare.

“So, now companies are thinking how we can fine tune business processes so we can handle rise in customer interactions,” said Kartik Poddar, business head at Haptik in an interview.

In fact, as most people work from home, organisations are worried about the mission critical operations and processes to safeguard against future contagions such as Coronavirus and also other forms of disruptions such as cyber-attacks and or biological attacks, said Vishwesh Padmanabhan, digital consulting head at KPMG in India.
Going further, the demand will only accelerate as most companies will look to enable its workforce to become ‘work from home’ ready. This will require companies to adopt digital at a faster pace to meet margins and revenue targets, after the situation rebounds. That is where efficiency will play a major role.

In that scenario, companies will adopt multiple technologies including robotic process automation and more leading to a surge in demand for virtual assistants as well. “In the short term, any solution which helps in cost cutting will be in demand. That way, virtual assistants will be an intellectual solution. However, in the long term, it will be about removing inefficiencies,” Poddar added.

AI will ‘keep the lights on’ when humans can’t
Poddar believes that from a job market perspective, this will lead to a rise in demand for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) experts. “There will be huge adoption of RPA, probably more than virtual assistants,” he said. Travel and hospitality, retail, e-commerce and BFSI are more likely to adopt bots and virtual assistants.

A recent report by IDC says that the RPA market will grow up to 49.3% in India. “Expected CAGR of around 33% by 2025 may come down post Corona, but I do expect these numbers to climb back up given the needs mentioned above, perhaps by 2027 & beyond,” Padmanabhan said.

According to Teamlease, India can be a global power house for RPA, thanks to its huge BPO base. “I expect to see an increasing demand for RPA and in particular AI based systems that will make informed decisions to ‘keep the lights on’ when humans may not be able to run operations due to any unforeseen event,” added Padmanabhan.
Sunil believes that RPA transition will take time but happen eventually. “RPA will be used extensively to support non-value and labour intensive activities. RPA and other intelligent automation will ensure business continuity in situations like a pandemic and will also play an important role in enhancing the productivity of the workforce,” he said.

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