The simplest explanation among the many that could describe a complex phenomenon is the one that should be taken as true.
This is the essence of Occam’s Razor, a guideline for thinking through issues logically. It was first presented by William of Occam, a 14th-century English nominalist philosopher and theologian. Superficially, it seems that Occam’s Razor tells us that automation will siphon away all economic activity currently conducted by humans and outsource it to a piece of code, a tool, or a platform. This transition from man to machine exponentially increases output and brings down cost of production to negligible levels. For employers, greater productivity will mean more bang for their buck and fewer HR-related hassles. From the employee’s perspective, it is not surprising that such predictions create anxiety, as they imply that humans are merely replaceable cogs in our business and economic paradigms. However, this is not the entire story.
It turns out that this is not the conclusion one ought to draw from proper application of Occam’s Razor—something else is distorting our logic.
Occam’s Broom is another principle which claims that “inconvenient facts are swept under the carpet to draw important conclusions or make counter arguments.” The anxiety-inducing narrative developing around automation technologies—in particular, around Robotic Process Automation (RPA)—suffers from such an omission of facts. It is Occam’s Broom—not Occam’s Razor—that has caused fear that automation will leave much of humanity unemployed. Once one understands all the facts, then what had appeared to be the simplest explanation—namely, mass unemployment—is not the simplest conclusion, after all.
At Stratascale, we have witnessed firsthand how the Broom has misled the public with respect to narratives around automation.
Will RPA take away some jobs? Yes, it will—just like a software language compiler made punch cards obsolete and automobiles replaced the use of animals for transportation. In both instances, however, we can observe that instead of jobs drying out and employment rates plummeting, new avenues of progress were created. Did the advent of compilers eat into opportunities for software engineers? Did replacing horses with automobiles weaken the socioeconomic standing of the transportation industry? History tells us that the definitive answer was “no.”
Experts at Stratascale have spent hundreds of hours studying the intricacies of modern automation and how our clients may take full advantage of it. We have since developed a Strategic Framework that explicitly highlights the importance of human-driven Business and IT strategies for harnessing automation. Although automation indeed raises productivity and lowers costs, humans are still necessary to creatively develop “what if” scenarios and determine how to apply automation to various situations.
This is where Stratascale comes in, offering robust and time-tested strategies that dovetail with the latest RPA capabilities.
Once we confirm the strategies, we develop the appropriate technical enablers to support the delivery of these plans. Even here, an element of human intellect is necessary to ensure the automations are indeed performing to the expected output levels and promised qualitative outcomes.
Our framework is composed of 4 core dimensions:
The Business Strategy is the driving force behind the implementation of the IT Strategy, the associated Capabilities, and the base Enablers.
Using this framework, we have successfully helped to transform business models for our clients into the optimal mix of human-machine coordination. Our results illustrate the fact that as much as humans need machines to make their lives easier, machines cannot thrive without human intervention.
Usman Lakhani is a Technical Advisor on Stratascale’s Innovation Advisory team. Usman has a background in Software Delivery Automation and is an ardent supporter of merging RPA tools with other automation technologies.