Digital Workers for the Digital Future

Digital Workers for the Digital Future

A perspective shift from automation being a productivity tool to a foundational element for digital resiliency. 

By Michael Ma – Intelligent Automation Solution Architect at Delv 

With the rise of a digital future, is now the time to invest in digital workers? The benefits of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are often demonstrated as direct improvements to operational efficiency and financial return on investment. The results of exponentially improved processing time, perfect compliance, zero errors and flexible execution times paint a picture of a digital worker with an operational capacity capable of exceeding its human counterpart at just a fraction of the cost. 

The value of the digital worker increases when looking at upstream and downstream activities. Intelligent automation is a set of technologies that bring together the human abilities of thinking and analysing to the doing. It means replicating more of what a human can do and in time do it better. What it does is interlink workflow management, cognitive agents and analytics with RPA. This is the natural progression of automation as it percolates into digital strategy with other approaches and capabilities[1]

The use of digital workers as a tool applied to the equation of human resourcing and digital transformation is a compelling one. I view the blur of human and digital labour as a firm emphasis on the interconnectivity of technology that calls upon elevated consciousness as to how we maintain security and resilience on our digital journeys. Whilst automation at large has been recognised to support digital resilience, this has focused on cloud environments and workflow orchestration[2]. RPA can do so from the position of a worker. 

Technology is intrinsically non-deterministic[3] and this characteristic, alongside the function of RPA as a digital worker, results in the ability to work without reliance on the human element. This reduces the burden of cyber safety as automated processes are logic-bound by design and not dependent on human actors that can be subject to personal attacks or criminal activity. Here, the digital worker aims to mitigate the human factor. 

Digital resilience requires key components[4] to be effective and RPA drives organisational attention to several of these in the same way its digital nature disrupts conventional approaches to handling a worker. 

  • Firstly, it encourages good cyber hygiene by keeping up to date 

Digital workers live and breathe (so to speak) on applications and systems, requiring attention to the health and condition of the environment it operates in. Here comes to light the status of product versioning and underlying architecture. Furthermore, the existence of shadow-IT is often exposed when assessing the processes. The surrounding governance and subsequent re-engineering means there are opportunities to improve underlying security issues and reduce human-induced risk. 

  • Secondly, it reviews existing privileges and access controls 

Digital workers by design support least-privilege access and role-based access control. With some clients, the review of target processes identifies divergences in the way processes are conducted and the existence of non-regulation access. Employees have persistent access to multiple systems that make phishing and other attacks so effective in entering the organisation. Digital workers assigned credentials on a process by process basis avoid this issue. 

  • Thirdly, it helps know your assets 

The fact that digital workers still require a human manager (and fall flat outside their prescribed automated tasks) means that continuous attention is needed to target systems. This demands current knowledge on how they are mapped and the expected functionality. Whilst often an additional challenge for change approval boards, it does promote the drive for seamless interoperation of business systems. 

When 52% of businesses admit that their employees are their biggest IT security weakness[5], it makes sense to curb the human factor as much as possible. RPA can innately provide that confidence by limiting the opportunities where humans may be an accidental or malicious insider. The digital worker’s benefit in ensuring compliance goes beyond operational concerns to the heart of human behaviour and vulnerability. By seeing opportunities to improve in the disruptive concept that is RPA, organisations can better build their digital resiliency.

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Michael Ma is an Intelligent Automation Solution Architect at Delv who leads the development and execution of automation capabilities, including building out data analytics and other complementary technologies.