Is Robotics Quotient the next measure of organizational readiness?

By Cheryl Wilson

Are you ready to work side by side with robots and AI? Should you be? 

Early-adopters are already using automation technologies, such as robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), and decision and process optimization software, to go beyond making individual processes better. They’re re-engineering whole business models, some with continuous learning at the center of their business operations, in order to deliver unique and exceptional services at scale. 

However, according to Forrester, most companies can’t successfully implement these automation technologies. That inability could spell the difference between winning and losing. 

Enter the Robotics Quotient (RQ). Forrester defines RQ as “the ability of individuals and organizations to learn from, adapt to, collaborate with, and generate business results from automated entities, including software like RPA, AI, physical robotics, and related systems.” This ability could be the next measure of organizational readiness. 

I was lucky to get some phone time with a special guest, J.P. Gownder of Forrester, to discuss his research report, RQ: Assess Your Readiness For Working Side By Side With Robots. I wanted to better understand why RQ matters, what success looks like and what you need to do about it now if anything. You can listen to a 17-minute excerpt of that conversation here during which we explore the following:

  • Why companies will succeed or fail based on their RQ (:00 – 1:20)
  • What success looks like (1:21 – 4:07)
  • What are the RQ competencies that measure readiness (4:08 – 9:33)
  • How clients can apply this research (9:34 – 11:36)
  • What excites and concerns him the most in the automation space (11:37 – 14:41) 
  • How you can find out your RQ (14:42 – 15:55)
  • Whether you can escape automation and if it’s automate or die (15:56 – 16:54)

Final note: After reading the research report, what stood out for me was where most companies are falling into traps on their path to automation. According to Gownder, companies get hung up when “thinking that automation represents a panacea and that mastering the technical dimensions of the problem will inevitably yield business value.” Specifically, he sees organizations struggling when they:

  • Focus on user experience, not people and organizations. Gownder writes that “user experience (UX) is, of course, extremely important, and much work remains to be done to drive great UX. But interest has waned in another key competency: training people to use software successfully.”
  • See technology as a silo, separate from business. As one director of AI at a digital innovation firm told Forrester, “My dream prospect is someone who has an understanding of the technology and the AI space but isn’t focused on what the technology can do — she focuses on a business outcome.”
  • Fail to disaggregate jobs into tasks.  One partner told Forrester that “We must move from a world where we mapped people to jobs to a world where we map skills to tasks. If you don’t reimagine the workplace, you won’t get this right.”
  • Are not ready to tackle nondeterministic systems. As one director of global IT service and support told Forrester, “We originally thought we would have to build out detailed scripts and dictate exactly how interactions would proceed, but that was overdetermined. We got the best results by feeding data into [AI solution] and letting the platform map out the process by watching the conversations take place.”

Understanding these traps plus the new RQ competencies can help set the stage for success when working side by side with robots and AI, and other automation technologies.

To learn about IBM automation technologies, click here.

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