The robots are coming – but it’s people that will make them work, says RSM

People are the crucial element in ensuring technology is effectively implemented into businesses, according to Venquis and research at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

An analysis by the leading business change and transformation consultancy, based on a study by the RSM, found that technology-led change programmes are destined to fail without the appropriate specialists to lead and implement them. This comes at a time when businesses are increasingly investing in and adopting major transformational projects in attempts to meet the needs of their rapidly changing markets.

Barnaby Parker, CEO at Venquis, comments:

“Far too many organisations still believe that they can just drop in a new bit of technology or launch an entirely new operating model and expect their staff to happily adopt it and continue with their jobs as normal, but that’s simply not the case. It’s been proven time and time again that without the right people to sell the benefits of essentially changing the way individuals work – and then guiding them through these periods of change – projects fail. We hear all the time about the rise of the robots, but people are still more important when it comes to change and transformation.”

This view is backed up by a study from RSM’s Dr Petra Bayerl. Her research focused on a major player in the oil and gas sector that was looking to launch a video conferencing system between off shore rigs and on shore engineers and management. The intention was to allow both sides to physically demonstrate any technical issues and, crucially, get them fixed immediately, rather than having to relay complex information over the phone or via email. However, despite this seemingly making clear sense, off shore staff rejected the technology because it felt a bit too “Big Brother” and started ‘accidentally’ switching it off or putting their hard hats over the cameras. Management had made the mistake of assuming that their employees would adopt the technology, without properly explaining the benefits and how it could make their working lives significantly easier to them. They further assumed that their people would happily keep using it, without considering consequences of decisions such as changes in leadership.

Parker comments:

“The study from RSM proves exactly what we’ve known for some time, but worryingly firms seem to be wasting a huge amount of money on projects and technology that ultimately have a very small chance of being successful without the right staffing and leadership. However, a greater investment in recruiting for the right people at the front end of transformational programmes would definitely save some of these losses. It’s now time for organisations to recognise the importance of hiring the right change experts and start investing in the people that can help their, often significant, investment be successful.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge for businesses using AI is to reassure employees that the technology will improve their job role significantly, not replace them.

Online GP service Babylon Health, who are planning to introduce an ‘AI doctor’ say the service will supplement rather than replace the service already provided from their GPs.

Dr Reger, CTO at Fujitsu EMEIA expects the techonology to proliferate.  He says:


“The news that Babylon Health has raised near £50M to build an ‘AI doctor’ is a promising development for the health industry; trials are currently ongoing in London, where Babylon’s tech is being used as an alternative to the non-emergency 111 number. AI as a field is rapidly gaining importance in many different services within various industries.


“The process of machine learning is considered to be time-saving but will only be successful if data is implemented as the lifeblood of the system. In this instance, data will enable AI machines to learn and understand new medical functions, and then critically provide humans e.g. doctors with the necessary information to diagnose problems.


“The potential application of AI in healthcare could even grow to possibly predict future illnesses even before they manifest, improving the quality of services for patients. All of this will not be achieved without vast swathes of data, an acceptance that AI will supplement jobs, not replace them, and the overall investment in the technology itself. The most recent investment in Babylon is a significant and relevant advancement in AI but businesses must consider how they can take this one step further. AI is quickly entering new sectors and, put simply, will become the norm; it will proliferate.”


Author: Editorial Team

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