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Employees are spending more time on repetitive tasks, according to new research form Hoboke, NJ-based NICE. According to the results of a survey of 2000 workers in the US and the UK, more than half of the respondents said they spend over 50 percent of their working day on repetitive tasks, often a source of employee frustration and turnover that can ultimately result in poor customer service. Another 25 percent of respondents said that over 75 percent of their working day is taken up by repetitive tasks. The problem now, is that there is so much data, workers are getting buried in data and repetitive tasks rather than achieve business goals.

According to the report, while the deluge of customer data in most enterprises has created opportunities for companies to deliver better customer experiences through personalization and omnichannel engagement, it has overwhelmed employees with manual, data-related tasks.

The overwhelming conclusion is that workers are now ready to be automated — or rather they are ready for automation. And they are quiet clear as to where this should happen. When asked which task they would prefer to automate, a third (33 percent) said pulling data from various systems, followed by filling in forms (28 percent) and checking data accuracy (26 percent).

When looking specifically at respondents that perform back office work, a demand for automation around data-related tasks is even stronger: 40 percent of US back office employees and 42 percent of UK back office employees said RPA would be most beneficial for accurately processing data, tasks, forms and reports.

Elsewhere in the research, 34 percent of managers who manage employees in customer facing roles believe that RPA helps their company deliver better customer experiences, while in the UK, 31 percent believe that RPA enhances overall sales or saves the company money.

To deliver the kind of customized service consumers’ demand, organizations should provide their employees with RPA solutions that present contextually relevant data on their desktop within a single screen view as and when they need it.

Give the headlines around artificial intelligence and its potential threat to employment, the results may come as a surprise. However, in digital workplaces where software and other tools are already completing tasks, this is not really news.

Gartner Predicts Massive RPA Market Growth

The results of the NICE survey dovetail nicely with other research, this time form Stamford, Conn.-based Garter which shows that the RPA market is in full expansion. In fact, the problem of repetitive work practices is so pronounced that the RPA market grew by 63% in 2018 to $846 million, making it the fastest-growing segment of the global enterprise software market, Gartner expects RPA software revenue to reach $1.3 billion in 2019.

Like many other areas of technology, the market is controlled by a handful of vendors and, surprisingly enough, not the ones that already control large parts of the enterprise market.

The top-five RPA vendors controlled 47 percent of the market in 2018. The vendor’s ranked sixth and seventh achieved triple-digit revenue growth. However, Gartner expects the RPA software market to look very different three years from now with companies like IBM, Microsoft and SAP, are partnering with or acquiring RPA software providers,

While North America is still the dominant force in the space with a 51 percent share in 2018, its share dropped by two percentage points year over year while Europe holds the No. 2 position, with a 23% share. Japan came third, with adoption growth of 124 percent.

Behind all this and driving the entire show are digital transformation efforts with banks, insurance companies, telcos and utility companies the biggest users. The ability to integrate legacy systems is the key driver for RPA projects.

Microsoft Offers Extended Support For Skype For Business, Office 2019

Elsewhere, there is some good news for Microsoft users and particularly those that use Skype for Business, Exchange and SharePoint 2019. According to a tech blog from Microsoft  MVP Tom Arbuthnot, Microsoft is extending the support period for all these servers by three months to January 2024.

Microsoft currently offers users mainstream support for five years then moves them to extended support. The original end of mainstream support date for Skype for Business Server 2019 was 2023, the normal 5 years of mainstream support (traditionally it was 5 years mainstream, 5 years extended). The idea was that Office 2019 (client and server) would move to a 5 + 2 model.

Office 2019, when it was released in 2018, covers the apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, as well as Skype for Business, and the Skype, SharePoint and Exchange servers.

It has now moved to a five years three months for mainstream support and 1 year 9 months of extended support. So too has SharePoint server 2019, but its extended support is 2026.

Three months extra is not a lot and certainly won’t give any company that has not planned for the end of these kind of support contracts. However, failure to prepare is a recurrent theme with many enterprises rushing to secure their deployments too close to the deadline for comfort, was the case, for example, with the XP OS.

Chatbox Partners With Ytel

Elsewhere, Seattle-based Chatbox, which builds enterprise messaging solutions has announced a new partnership with Lake Forest, Calif.-based Ytel. Chatbox is an integrated messaging ecosystem that businesses use to create and automate personalized, results-oriented conversations across texting, chat and social channels.

As a texting platform that simplifies the operation and automation bi-directional text messaging for marketing, sales, and service at scale. Gartner recently named Chatbox a "Cool Vendor" for CRM Customer Service and Support. 

Texting with customers may seem like a simple proposition but deploying it properly at scale is a complicated challenge that Chatbox has been tackling for over five years.

Ytel, for its part, is a communications PaaS provider. The Chatbox platform now features a tight integration with Ytel's conversational SMS capabilities and configurable workflows, while using the carrier agility Ytel clients rely on.

This partnership also provides Ytel customers access to Chatbox's agent and automation tools, Instant Apps, and analytics. Coupling the Chatbox platform with Ytel's intelligent SMS and voice capabilities enables enterprise-grade, conversational business messaging.

SeeUnity And DocsCorp Announce Product Integration

Finally this week, Johnstowsn, Colo.-based SeeUnity, a developer of content integration and migration solutions for on-premise and cloud-based Enterprise Content Management applications has announced the integration of its Echo Content Synchronization product (Echo) with cleanDocs from Pittsburg-based DocsCorp.

Customers using SeeUnity’s Echo to securely publish content from their DMS to their collaboration system, like HighQ, for external consumption can now minimize the risk of a data breach by using cleanDocs to clean sensitive metadata from their documents, and optionally converting them to secure PDFs.

CleanDocs protects against unintentional information leaks by removing metadata based on configurable enterprise-wide policies. It is the only application of its type to work with Echo to clean Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF documents of metadata at sub-second speed.

The SeeUnity and DocsCorp integration offers users an added layer of security when collaborating externally, promoting workflow efficiency and supporting document governance. Organizations taking advantage of the Echo publish functions can now choose cleanDocs options from within the Echo Admin Studio. Echo works together with policy files configured in the cleanDocs utility to remove or keep specified document metadata as content is published to the collaboration system.