This article was written by François Gaudreau, Partner, Operations, Management Consulting, KPMG in Canada
There is a habit of equating intelligent process automation (IPA) with replacing human jobs, but this could not be further from the truth. Even in their most basic form, automation technologies can simplify processes, accelerate services, and free government employees' time and energy to deliver impactful public services.
It is not about the 'rise of the machines', it is about unlocking real human potential.
Rapid and non-invasive by nature, IPA technologies make government business models more nimble, accurate, cost-effective, and reactive to their constituents. Moreover, they create stronger efficiencies, bolster data security and governance, and enable public sector workers to focus on higher, value-added activities.
The price of entry is low and the options are many. Automation technologies run the gamut from basic rules-based applications to more intelligent 'learning' and 'reasoning' tools, and there are already a host of tested and trusted 'plug-and-play' solutions in the market. The government would be best served by starting small with 'rule-based' technologies (e.g. robotic process automation (RPA) and robotic desktop automation (RDA)) to drive better mission outcomes and branching out to various cognitive methods (e.g. artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, natural language processing, etc.) as opportunities arise.
Put simply, IPA technologies are primed for public sector adoption. They can be embedded with minimal disruption, integrate seamlessly with existing systems, and do their job around the clock.
Like any new addition to the team, however, steps must be taken to create a symbiotic person-machine ecosystem. That involves identifying which processes are primed for automation, conducting a 'proof-of-concept', and training staff on their new digital colleagues. Most importantly, it requires a deployment roadmap to ensure automation technologies have the best chance of capturing immediate and sustainable benefits.