Accelerating the Automation Economy in India


Since the infamous Covid pandemic struck, technology adoption in India has grown by leaps and bounds. New-age technologies like AI, cloud, IoT, automation, are no more just ambitious terms but a day-to-day reality today. Automation posed a major disrupter for traditional businesses and enabled newer and more efficient business operations. Mihir Shukla, CEO, Automation Anywhere, in an exclusive interview with Express Computer opened up on how automation is redefining the course of India’s growth in the global market.  

How is Automation Anywhere driving a culture of innovation and accelerating the Automation Economy in India?

What the world has observed in the last few years is a very rapid pace of change and uncertainty, high inflation, and a significant skills gap. Moreover, what every leader in the world is witnessing is the next 10 years will require a very different approach to running a business if they have to continue to scale and grow their businesses. Also, in the next 10 years, they have to think about an automation-first mindset. We know that for the next 10 years, every year, we will have less working population than a year before on the planet. So this new approach to automation-first is essential. This will give rise to a very different economy that’s already happening called the Automation Economy. 

The way Automation Anywhere and our customers in India are fueling the Automation Economy, with large and reputed R&D centres in Bangalore and Baroda, where our team works on some of the leading products in the market. One of the products we released is called RA, a robotic assistant for every knowledge worker and their digital co-workers. Our R&D centre in India played a key role in leading that product. So we are leveraging India’s amazing skill set and innovation mindset ourselves. We see that our customers are increasingly driving the Automation Economy and innovation as well. With the growth that the economy has that we all see, it is natural for India to have a higher ambition than just being a back office of the world. Today many of our customers including some of the largest banks, some of the largest oil and gas companies in India are adopting automation at a much faster pace to provide speed and scale to their businesses and create a world-class platform to grow.

In your opinion, how can the country emerge as the global hub for automation and how do you picture a digitally driven future of India in the coming 5-10 years?

India has the ambition to become a US$ 5 trillion economy by 2025. And, in order to achieve that, and achieve that scale, automation is integral. India has a unique advantage where they are able to skip an entire generation of old technologies. We skipped landlines and went straight to the mobile devices, or to be precise, the landline phase in India was for a brief time period and the country quickly moved to mobiles. Similarly, the country skipped the credit card phase completely and went to digital payment. Automation is one such technology to which India has leapfrogged. Therefore, by leveraging such technology in such a large young population and engaging them digitally we could see the country trailing the path to growth at a faster pace.

What is cloud RPA that Automation Anywhere offers as a service model? How do you think it could become a game changer for the enterprises that are adopting automation in the coming times, especially in India?

Firstly, Automation Anywhere is known for RPA. However, today, in the last many years, our customers and our vision have evolved significantly. We offer a more complete Intelligent Automation platform that includes process discovery, digitising documents, and understanding them through Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, and many other capabilities. So it is a complete end-to-end Intelligent automation platform. Moreover, all of that is available through the most modern cutting-edge cloud platform. One of the ways it is immensely helpful for Indian businesses is traditional on-premise solutions, which take a significant burden on the IT staff, and they have a burden of a constant need to update them every year or every two years. The cloud model releases IT staff from having to manage all the infrastructure customers can get started almost instantly on cloud. Hundreds of thousands, even tens of thousands of users can get on a cloud and use automation. 

The other thing is the pace of innovation. So our company releases a new update every quarter. As soon as it is released, it is instantly available to our customers on the cloud. So they are always up to date with the most current innovation and product capabilities. If you operate software in 2023, that’s the mindset you need. You can’t be a few years behind the innovation cycle. So, cloud is essential for delivery.

As per you, India has skipped the landline phase, the credit card phase, and moved ahead with better technologies, like automation. Do you think we have also skipped educating people about digital technologies and today there’s a big chunk of the population in the country that are not digitally literate enough to cope with the rapid digitalisation and technology adoption? Do you think this phase of educating people is important before we move to automation, AI, and more?

I feel this has to happen parallelly. It’s not a surreal thing, where you train first 800 million people on digital, and then move to digital. We can take the example of Automation Anywhere University where we train people in digital skills in AI training courses. We did about 2 million courses so far and a lot of trainees are from India. Thus, I think, the knowledge gap is being bridged by such initiatives. What is more important though is businesses being able to use this technology as fast because then they can provide employment to all the people who are training in such courses. So there is a balance that we will strive for.

How Automation Anywhere is building its talent ecosystem with a focus on developing products for India, and globally, as well?

To create a talent economy with AI and Intelligent Automation at scale, we are leveraging Automation Anywhere University. However, we are also partnering with various universities and training centers to make this content available widely. Moreover, we are making it available for free. If we have an opportunity to spread education, obviously, we want to make it as accessible as possible. And, we are witnessing that the adoption of these courses is increasing month by month. I am confident that India will have enough skills to offer not just to the country itself, but to the world on AI and Intelligent Automation.

Do you think that automation will replace a lot of lower-level executives who are engaged in repetitive tasks? What enterprises can do about those executives who will be replaced? Can they be reskilled or upskilled? What is your opinion?

I think it is a reasonable question, but it has been asked so many times in many years. When computers came, people asked what would happen to the low-skilled workers. However, later we saw that everyone started using computers. In fact, many of them learned using computers faster than some of the most seasoned people. Today, we know that there are more high-paying jobs in every country, including India, for those who know how to work on a computer than others. So technological revolutions create better jobs and I think that is the vision India shares now. Similarly, automation is helping India create better jobs. It is the right time for India to have a higher ambition than just being a back office of the world. Also, India could become one of the key automation hubs of the world.



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