Robotics, process analytics, digital labor

Perspectives

A roadmap for building digital labor in government

Using automation and data analytics to help federal agencies improve service delivery

The future of how we do work is changing. Solutions and technologies that help make life easier are being introduced and embraced at a pace like we have never seen. The federal government is diligently working to improve efficiency, align its workforce to the needs of today and the future, and remove barriers to deliver results to citizens. Digital labor is a solution that can help federal agencies improve service delivery to citizens through new automation and data analytics capabilities.

What is digital labor?

​Digital labor is an innovative solution that is driving improved efficiency and service delivery to the nation and its citizens. Digital labor should be thought of as a new category of resources that leaders can tap into—a pool of digital labor that provides leaders with access to new capabilities and options to achieve mission goals.

No longer are federal executives limited to the option of simply hiring new federal employees, procuring new contractors, or implementing a new infrastructure changing technology. Instead, federal executives have a new lever to pull that combines the benefits of scalability, shorter stand-up times, and rapid ROI. Simply put, digital labor can be viewed as a tool that empowers the workforce by improving the decision-making cycle.​

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Digital labor couples today’s capabilities of Automation and Data Analytics to empower the workforce as ‘data users’ instead of ‘data gatherers.’

IT security for the digital laborer

National security and the management of the classified data is a pressing concern for many leaders within the defense and intelligence agencies; with that said, technology continues to drive the way business is done not only in the average citizen’s life but in the agencies that protect us. Unfortunately, there are ongoing challenges with the rapid change of technology and the outdated policies that provision newly defined technology capabilities.

Thought leading agencies, such as NASA, have allowed for opportunities to understand security limitations for bots and establish provisions to support and maintain security of classified and un-classified data.

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Digital labor opportunities

Digital labor can effectively automate manually repetitive rules-based processes, perform rules-based analytics on the data gathered and then configure the data into a file that can be plugged into a number of visualization tools or dashboards to provide end-users with high impact insights. These insights can enable quicker and more effective decision-making and drive actions. The typical business user, sometimes unknowingly, engages in a four-phase decision-making cycle that can be described as Observe, Orient, Act, and Decide.

Currently, the business user is doing all four phases, but with digital labor we are finding that a good portion of the predictive Observe and Orient processes can be completed using digital labor, so that the business user steps into the decision making cycle at the Decide and Act phase. No longer does your workforce need to be ‘data gatherers’…they can be ‘data users’. The best thing about digital labor is that it isn’t an over-the-horizon, futuristic technology. This is here, it’s now and in production.​​

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Robot logo

A roadmap for building digital labor

Deloitte introduced a robotic automation capability in a 2015 paper titled “Process Robotics1,” which also won the 2016 GCN Discovery & Innovation in Government IT (GCN DIG-IT) award2 in the robotics and unmanned category. Since then we have built an inventory of bots for clients that perform a variety of tasks, such as processing invoices, executing data queries, connecting disparate systems, providing automated status updates to customers, and executing compliance related reporting. Armed with a growing inventory of bots, we have essentially built scale and created digital labor.

Our rapidly expanding inventory of pre-built bots can be used to help agencies address unfunded mandates, reduce low-value transactional spend, and drive resources back to mission needs. Digital labor can be implemented in a matter of weeks. The days of long assessments leading to even longer implementations are a thing of the past. Whatever manually repetitive rules-based low-value task that your workforce is performing—Deloitte has a digital labor bot for that.

End notes

1. Deloitte Consulting LLP; “Process Robotics”; 2015.

2. Lohmeyer, Suzette; “Targeting data pain points with process robotics;” 2016.

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Since digital labor is a capability attained through a software tool, implementation is typically light, so agencies can quickly begin the journey.

The journey to implement digital labor

Getting started on the journey to implementing digital labor can seem overwhelming at first, but by following a path that delivers initial quick wins while building infrastructure for the future, federal agencies can build sustainable digital labor in relatively short order.

A core advantage of digital labor is that it operates at the user-interface layer, which means that the software bots execute tasks and interact with applications and systems just like their human counterpart. Operating in this fashion means that digital labor does not require you to reconfigure your existing systems and applications—a huge time and resource advantage for both the business and IT organizations.

Federal organizations can use digital labor to tackle many of the immediate and long-term challenges they face. By following a roadmap to building a digital workforce government agencies can smartly move from “What if?” to “Let’s get started!”​

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People networking

Explore more: AI-augmented government

Can cognitive technologies do government employees’ thinking for them? Not quite—at least not yet. But right now, AI-based programs can help agencies cut costs, free up millions of labor hours for more critical tasks, and deliver better, faster services.

Read our latest on artificial intelligence from Deloitte Insights.

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Robot teaching
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