This article by Leslie Willocks, Professor of Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Mary C. Lacity of the university of Missouri-St Louis, looks at service automation strategies.
Companies are achieving productivity gains by using software robots to perform routine, rules-based service processes. If implemented well, such automation can result in high-performing human-robot teams, in which software robots and human employees complement one another.
For more than 130 years, managers have, in effect, been trying to get humans to act like robots by structuring, routinizing, and measuring work — all under the guise of organizational efficiency. The automation software that is being developed today enables a reversal of this process. We are now able to use software robots to amplify and augment distinctive human strengths, enabling large economic gains and more satisfying work. However, given the widespread skepticism and fears about how many types of employment will fare in the future, managers are in a difficult spot. Media headlines such as the “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” and “A World Without Work” only serve to fuel the anxiety.