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The world is changing, and modern businesses are investigating ways to make these changes work for their long-term success. One of the many developments in recent years is the accessibility to automated processes through RPA. Robotic process automation has the potential to change how a business works, from the ground floor to the executive suite.

For those that find themselves in the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO), these changes will have a big impact on their day-to-day work as well as the course of their future career path. Here are five ways RPA is changing the role of a CTO.

How robotic process automation is changing the role of CTO

1. Overseeing process changes

For a business to be successful, it’s essential to avoid making changes for the sake of making changes. Every decision, every process, every alteration to the current way things are done should have intention and purpose. When it comes to incorporating RPA, the changes will resonate throughout the entire organization. As such, it’s important that someone oversees these changes and makes strategic decisions regarding processes.

It’s worth noting that the automations being incorporated aren’t always going to relate directly to the IT department. Automating infrastructure performance monitoring is a purely IT-related process, whereas making changes on the manufacturing floor is not. That means that there may be a disconnect between what falls under the operations umbrella and what’s happening in IT.

For example, if a business is developing prototypes that will ultimately change how the current manufacturing process is completed, the CTO will have to take a look at the impact from a high-level view down to the simplest of tasks on the production floor.

Advanced automation processes will require a new set of skills to offer support to staff should something go wrong. The CTO will need to evaluate, for example, how these process changes impact the supply chain and give guidance on how to manage expectations with both suppliers and customers.

The CTO will not only have to juggle the change in operations flow but also have a hand in human resources change management.

2. Employee-centric change management

While changes to processes will be one major area of focus for the CTO, they will also have another vertical to address: human change management. While the idea of employee-centric management seems contradictory to incorporating RPA in a business setting, the CTO will find their role changing to a pseudo-human resources management position during the course of implementation and beyond.

The fear that automation and robotics will replace the need for human employees (in other words, the old “robots are stealing our jobs” narrative) is becoming more prevalent as AI and automation evolve.

For the production team, specifically, the CTO will be the leader of change in explaining how their specific jobs will be impacted. Even if job loss isn’t a concern, changes to routine generally have a negative impact on company culture. The CTO will play touchpoint for the subordinates in the business hierarchy that fall under their umbrella.

Furthermore, they will be working diligently behind the scenes and have to facilitate a strong bond with both the CIO and COO. Working with the CIO will be necessary to effectively collaborate and implement robotic process automation as seamlessly as possible. Describing how RPA will help rather than hinder current roles and managing expectations regarding the shifting scope of work will require a closer relationship with the HR department.

3. Strategic planning for business future

The ultimate goal of incorporating RPA is to steer business toward the future, helping it remain competitive in a shifting business landscape. Again, this in-depth knowledge of the supply chain setting gives the CTO invaluable insights into not only how incorporating RPA into the business model will impact the organisation, but also where it can take the business in the future. This gives the CTO a key role in long-term strategic planning.

They will have to work with the larger executive team to identify how robotic process automation will impact each area of the business, how it can be scaled over time, what potential challenges and barriers can limit the opportunity for success, and how to bring it all together. This requires being able to manage a team that can identify even the seemingly minor impacts; it’s often the small changes that get overlooked and cost the company time and money in supply chain gaps.

The CTO will have to think big picture for RPA implementation to have the desired results. They will have to understand that the idea isn’t to replace people – reducing human resources only saves the company so much capital and ultimately limits growth potential – but rather to create more user-friendly processes that optimise the organisational workflow.

4. Vendor relationship implications

Not only with the CTO be tasked with managing internal human factors that will impact and be impacted by the incorporation of RPA, but they’ll also play a part in identifying changes to supply chain. This will directly impact vendor relationships, especially during the transition.

Eventually, RPA implementation should simplify vendor relationships. However, it’s important to be transparent with changes and the potential for disruptions – a job that falls under the CTO’s umbrella. After all, a problem in the supply chain doesn’t only lose the company money, it also impacts the overall workflow of the vendor and can, in turn, lose them money as well.

The CTO should consider how robotic process automation will impact the supply chain from both the front lines and behind the scenes. Additionally, they must be able to convey how these changes will impact the customer.

How will RPA implementation change processing times? How will it change order fulfillment and delivery times for product-based businesses? How will it change inventory management to ensure that customers are able to track their requests and feel comfortable with the level of service and attention they are receiving. The CTO can directly impact the conversion and retention rate of customers with their expertise and insights.

5. Collaboration and cybersecurity

In many organizations, Operations is in its own silo, apart from the daily comings and goings of Human Resources, Marketing, etc. While there are processes that take place that will require collaboration between departments, these tend to be focused. That changes during RPA implementation.

For a major RPA project to work, the CTO and entire IT department will need to be willing to collaborate with other departments. Cybersecurity will be a significant area of focus. Incorporating automated processes means evaluating protection methods, such as limited infrastructure access, and the best logging apps to use for troubleshooting and output data.

In many ways, the rapid development of intelligent automation and cloud technology has outpaced security features; working together to ensure the operations floor is secure is essential for success.

Final thoughts

For RPA to be successfully implemented into a business, the CTO will have to advocate for the employees that fall under his or her umbrella. They will need to be both open to change, but willing to identify when something isn’t going to work.

Implementing RPA can drastically change the processes of the business, both now and in the future. Having the right person in the CTO’s seat can be the determining factor on the success of the implementation.

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