The robots are coming to take our jobs, and our man

I would like to automate my work. In fact, I studied how to do it for hours without really getting anywhere.

However, on Saturday I coded my first software bot. It can do easy, repetitive and routine tasks for me, which I can’t be bothered to do. True, the robot I built on Saturday cannot help me in my real work, but I can now create a genuinely useful automated tool.

Robotic Process Automation is a silly phrase, but at the same time very common in this area of technology; it is scary, valuable and strange. Coding and software development can feel like a secretive field: in order to even ask for advice, you have to understand a lot and feel at home in virtual places that are hard to understand and to access. Thus, the self-study of robotic process automation is particularly difficult, especially when you lack the time, the language, and the equipment.

However, as a leader of a company that provides assistant services, I must remain involved in all aspects of work life. Already many routine work tasks have already been automated, and a huge amount of human work has replaced by automation, robots and artificial intelligence. We can either just look on as the need for our work fades away, or we can strive to understand the changes that are happening and help our customers to change with the times. We must acquire the know-how and professionalism that our customers will need to make that change successfully.

But it is difficult to study, with the rush of the holidays and a growing company to runtime is already so limited, and the world of automation is so strange!

Fortunately, we have visionaries in this world. In this case, they are found at the Software and e-business association, which understood an essential problem: too few coders are women. Thus, the association’s Milja Köpsi and Rasmus Roiha came up with a way to tackle this problem in a concrete way: they invited IT firms to provide coding training for adult women! This resulted in the magnificent #mimmitkoodaa (#chickscode) project that now involves thousands of women interested in coding and dozens of software companies. This is how I too came to receive useful and free training on robotic process automation. A great thank you to the company, Knowit Suomi Oy, for providing the training.

Of course, I was a bit anxious at first: install Python 3.7, Robot Framework and Selenium library. Although the instructions were clear, the completely strange programs, words and operating systems made me feel awkward. It’s difficult when you are left alone to try and understand completely a foreign language. Luckily, on Saturday, I had the company of 25 other eager-to-learn people, and through peer support and skilled teaching, we all got our robots to work. And at the same time, I learned where to get support in the future. The frightening foreign world now a little less frightening.

To help with my own work, I first plan to automate the onboarding of new employees: providing them with access to all the different software and accounts that are needed at our firm. After that, my bot may learn to close an employee’s accounts when they leave the company. Even though I’m not going to spend a lot of my time focusing on coding software bots, through this training I’ve gained a solid understanding of what can and should not be automated and how to do it. I already feel much better prepared to meet the challenges of the next few decades.

How will you prepare for the future?

Author
Anna Degerholm
Partner, HR Director, Wannado Oy

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