Have you heard? There’s a new C-suite executive in town.
As we’ve discussed, massive change is underway around the world in terms of who (or what!) makes up our global workforce. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is displacing an increasing number of roles in many industries, and the numbers are only growing.
So what does corporate structure look like when a sizeable proportion of the workers are bots? Who’s in charge? Who ensures the transition is smooth?
Enter the Chief Robotics Officer or CRO. Joining the ranks of the CEO, CFO, and CIO, the CRO is the new exec in charge of maximising investment in AI and robotics, and overseeing its implementation and management.
As Gartner suggests in their 2017 article, The Rise of the Chief Robotics Officer, the rapid increase in the use of robotics is seeing current management techniques outpaced. The need for a CRO is largely driven by 2 factors –
- The need for automation to be championed at a strategic level, not just operationally by business units, and
- The need to manage, with a certain degree of finesse, the relationship between humans and their robot co-workers.
Now perhaps your business operates in the mid-market. Your staff report to GMs, Operations, and IT Managers (rather than CEOs and CTOs). The terminology isn’t important… What’s true for the big end of town holds true for the mid-market segment as well. The same question must be asked within the business, and it’s not whether you’ll need someone looking after robotics; it’s WHO will look after robotics.
To truly succeed, Robotic Process Automation must have an owner and a champion within the business. The horizontal nature of this role means it will be disruptive, with huge impacts on people and processes, spanning multiple teams across the organisation. Positioning the Chief Robotics Officer in the C-Suite communicates the level of importance the business places on automation. As Gartner puts it, “the more strategic the implications of automation, the more important the need for C-level oversight and control.”
Whether the job of managing AI and automation defaults to the IT team or falls more in line with Supply Chain or Operations, is a question for each business to answer individually. We believe that ultimately it sits with the line of business it affects, with parallel support from IT – but your mileage may vary.
Have you begun implementing automation within your organisation? How do you support it at an executive level?