In the next seminar in our series, an exploratory study on the perception of white-collar automation among middle managers in corporations providing business services was discussed.
Robotic process automation implemented in B2B corporations is the algorithmization of routine activities, characteristic of companies performing administrative tasks of high volume and complexity for a business customer. Through in-depth interviews, it was possible to establish whether senior employees recognise the scale and dynamics of technological change, and what their experiences, hopes and fears are in relation to work automation, artificial intelligence or machine learning.
Interviews with managers revealed that they do not see automation as a threat, but rather as an element of a new organizational culture and a tool that provides invaluable help in the daily struggle with time pressure. From the interviewees» perspective, technology’s partial takeover of tedious responsibilities frees up their intellectual potential and gives them time to devote to more creative professional tasks. This is the case, however, provided that they can influence the scope and quality of the solutions implemented. Although modern management methods (e.g. lean) emphasize continuous improvement and creativity, in practice only the ideas that generate the greatest savings have a chance to be implemented. Process automation is not linear, but is imposed or postponed according to the logic of cost optimization, and is subject to constant negotiation depending on power relations, knowledge distribution, and internal organizational dynamics.