A shrinking workforce and COVID-19: Singapore must automate now

By Malina Platon, Managing Director, Strategic Accounts, APAC, UiPath

Between the pandemic and inhabitants shifts, havoc is being wreaked on Asia’s economies. Each mix to type a deadly power that’s pressuring companies to vary how they function, whereas doing extra with much less.

Singapore’s economic system, for instance, is predicted to contract 6 per cent this 12 months based on personal sector economists surveyed by MAS in September.

An earlier research from 2017 discovered that Singapore has probably the most to concern from an ageing inhabitants amongst Asia Pacific nations. It famous that the nation faces a double whammy of a shrinking workforce coupled with slower progress than its Asian neighbours in getting extra folks into the labour market.

The report by Oxford Economics stated Singapore’s labour provide will shrink by 1.7 proportion factors within the 10 years by means of 2026, and by 2.5 proportion factors within the following decade.

The identical is going on in different components of Asia, together with neighbouring economies akin to Australia.

As soon as rising at a fee of 150,000 folks per 12 months, that progress is predicted to sluggish to round 100,000 folks a 12 months within the coming decade, based on knowledge from the World Financial institution.

One of many foremost causes of this slowdown is child boomers leaving the workforce at a fee sooner than they’re being changed, leading to what’s being termed a “child bust”. The identical problem is dealing with many different developed nations throughout Asia, with Japan and Singapore experiencing an particularly fast fee of decline.

Add to this the continued COVID-19 disaster, which has been a catalyst for know-how adoption amongst many companies, and it’s clear that the impetus for digital transformation has by no means been stronger. Certainly, the pandemic has pushed extra organisations to digitise and automate over the past six months alone than what many achieved over the past six years.

Even so, considerations about robots changing human employees have been overdone, based on Training Minister Lawrence Wong, who in September urged Singaporeans to not fear on this entrance.

The virus has uncovered flaws in organisations, from gaps in enterprise continuity planning to weak hyperlinks in provide chains, forcing them to return to the drafting board and improve efforts to spice up productiveness. Some have in contrast this double blow of a shrinking workforce and COVID as being like a meteorite hitting international enterprise – life kinds being pressured to adapt to new realities in a sudden and sudden shock.

Man and machine: Co-existing on the office
Within the face of those challenges, organisations are more and more turning to applied sciences like robotic course of automation (RPA) to ramp up their enterprise resiliency.

RPA basically offers software program robots to automate repetitive, low-value duties, growing effectivity whereas lowering prices.

One such instance is the Federal Financial institution in India, one of many nation’s main personal banks, which has began utilizing RPA know-how to automate over 120 processes because the COVID lockdowns started.

Not solely has this enabled the financial institution to proceed delivering banking providers to its clients seamlessly through the previous few months, but it surely’s accomplished so whereas the vast majority of its workforce stays at dwelling.

Past this query of resiliency within the face of a sudden shock, automation can be proving important in bringing about cultural change within the office. There’s a rising recognition that man and machine will have the ability to co-exist for the nice of each the human workforce and enterprise backside line.

At the moment, some 40% of the worldwide workforce continues to earn a living from home – a actuality that can lead to higher acceptance of the necessity for automation within the new post-pandemic world. Many are even questioning the necessity to return to the pre-coronavirus world, the place some employees have been employed in duties that robots have confirmed greater than able to fulfilling.

Breaking down obstacles to automation
In fact, for some corporations, taking step one in the direction of automation requires but extra persuasion.

One widespread impediment is the chief info officer (CIO) or IT division, which could be responsible of hindering moderately than serving to digitisation efforts.

While ironic given their supposed roles as know-how leaders, this resistance typically stems from the truth that they get slowed down in policing know-how use moderately than actually enabling transformation.

Furthermore, they don’t at all times belief unbiased enterprise models to execute severely on new know-how adoption, leading to some transformation tasks being prematurely mothballed.

As the normal relationship between enterprise and know-how turns into blurred, there may be higher urgency than ever for each teams to adapt and work collectively.

The secret’s to seek out the candy spot the place all departments and enterprise models can agree on a know-how implementation.That may require balancing security and sustainability considerations with the advantages to time and value financial savings throughout completely different departments.

Begin small, fail quick
In a bid to deal with a few of these widespread considerations and inside resistance areas, some organisations have adopted a hybrid strategy to automation. This sees them establishing an inside automation command centre – or ‘Middle of Excellence’ as we wish to name it – for his or her know-how implementation, from which the constructing and distribution of RPA flows out to workers.

As soon as workers are comfy working with automation and resistance begins to drop off, they change into the very ones proposing new concepts for extra superior purposes.

One other remark is that beginning small and failing quick – a principle advocated by Paul Loke, Chief Data Officer of Singapore’s Accountant Normal Division – tends to repay.

Loke advises know-how champions inside corporations to begin with a small venture, usually seen as much less dangerous and extra more likely to win approval from administration.

A mini transformation initiative that can solely price the organisation a couple of thousand dollars and take just some weeks is way much less daunting than one which prices half 1,000,000 and take months. This strategy strikes away from the normal waterfall methodology, little question acquainted to a lot of as we speak’s enterprise managers, which breaks down tasks into linear sequential phases – every section depending on deliverables from the earlier one. Beneath the brand new methodology, organisations transfer sooner however fail sooner, too.

While nobody units as much as fail, the fact of failure is finest acquired over rapidly so the enterprise can transfer on to the subsequent venture and never dwell on spilled milk.

This mindset is about discovering people who find themselves prepared to make the leap, take small dangers, and doubtlessly reap massive rewards.

Our recommendation is to ascertain a small group of likeminded know-how champions and alter makers, inside the organisation, which might be genuinely fascinated with transformation from the within out. As companies throughout Asia proceed to grapple with the joint shock of COVID and longer-term inhabitants shifts, now’s the time to embrace automation options that guarantee they not solely survive however thrive within the years forward.

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