How Will Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Affect the Human Workforce? CEO Sarah Njamu Tells All


Ahead of Women in Tech Africa this March 2020, Sarah Njamu, CEO and Founder of Compu-Connect Education, discusses how Robotic Process Automation will take over our jobs - in a positive way.

What are you speaking about at Women in Tech Africa?

The implementation of Robotic Process Automation and Mitigation of Associated Cyber Risks.


What will attendees learn from your workshop?

A clear understanding of RPA and how companies can leverage RPA to drive organisation efficiency and productivity.


What is robotic process automation in simple terms?

In simple terms Robotic Process Automation, also commonly referred to as RPA, is an algorithm or software that mimics human action without much or any human intervention. In other words Robotic Process Automation (RPA) refers to software that can be easily programmed to do basic tasks across applications just as human workers do.

The software robot can be taught a workflow with multiple steps and applications, such as taking received forms, sending a receipt message, checking the form for completeness, filing the form in a folder and updating a spreadsheet with the name of the form, the date filed, and so on. RPA software is designed to reduce the burden of repetitive, simple tasks on employees. 


What do you say to those worried that robotic processes are taking over human jobs?

My honest opinion and strong belief is that RPA is here to make human work life more easy and more efficient. Of course the Bots will definitely take over a lot of the repetitive tasks that human beings currently do, which is absolutely an exciting idea, because then human beings will be allowed to focus on more higher order kind of jobs that  requires, more reasoning, judgement and creativity.

With the coming of RPA, people will have to re-skill themselves in the workplace and take on new roles that they are more passionate and more strong at from the talent point of view. A good example I can think of is how the role of a typist has evolved over the years. For most people that were trained as typists, their roles changed with the coming of computers - most of them evolved into becoming data capturers or data clerks. Yes the role of a typist became obsolete but naturally people who were in those roles had to reskill themselves and they developed the new skill sets needed to work with computers because organisations themselves had also evolved in their business processes due to the invention of computers.

So practically speaking, computers came to make our lives easy and have helped us to be more efficient in the way we conduct business. Did computers take over people’s jobs? The answer is the computer did replace many manual tasks that people were doing but in the same breath many more new jobs and careers emerged that did not exist before.

"embrace RPA as a new normal"

RPA is here to stay, the people who will win and survive in the 4IR economy and beyond are the ones who are open to the new changes of using Bots, which shortly will become the new normal for every organisation. My advice is embrace RPA as a new normal and work on reskilling yourself as a person so you can develop a new set of skills that will allow you to excel in the new era.


RPA in the manufacturing industry


What are the biggest challenges with implementing RPA?

The biggest challenge is the change management process in the adoption of new technology. Companies really need to invest in shifting the mindset of their staff before RPA systems can be rolled out. I would say preparation, preparation, preparation is key to the success of RPA implementation. You have to ensure you carry everyone on board to your new journey and get employee buy-in.  


Is there anything exciting you’re working on at the moment that you could share with us?

I am very excited at the big opportunity we are currently busy working on — our company has just partnered with Automation Anywhere, a California-based company. Automation Anywhere has developed the world's first and only purely web-based, cloud-native Digital Workforce platform, offering instant ease of use, unprecedented scale, and intelligent automation for any process, any business, on any device. This partnership will allow us to change the RPA landscape in Africa. It will enable us to help companies (both SMEs and Multinational Companies) and governments to operate with unprecedented productivity and efficiency, so we can help solve the service delivery problem that many African countries struggle with.


You founded Compu-Connect Education. What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own company?

I would say if you feel strongly called to starting your own company, then step out and just do it, stop giving excuses. Of course starting and growing a business is not for the faint hearted, you need tenacity, perseverance and staying power. Also try and find yourself a mentor who can journey with you and help you grow in your business journey.


Who is your female tech inspiration?

Ursula M. Burns, she is an African American businesswoman. She is the former CEO of Xerox and she is the chairperson and CEO of VEON, a senior advisor to Teneo, and a non-executive director of Diageo since April 2018. She is also a member of the board of directors of Uber. For me Ursula Burns symbolises the epitome of success in business against all odds. 

About the speaker

Sarah Luyele Njamu is the CEO and founder for Compu-Connect Education, a Johannesburg based software company that specialises in: E-learning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cyber Security, Digital Transformation and Executive Leadership Training. She is also an international conference speaker, facilitator, trainer and Business coach. With a career of over 20 years backed by an MBA and qualifications in Education, Sarah L. Njamu has extensive experience in sales, customer care, marketing, change management, project management, leadership training, Robotic Process Automation Implementation (RPAi) and Learning Management system (LMS) implementation with e- learning content. Sarah brings a great wealth of experience and exposure from working in three African markets namely South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.

View our current list of speakers at Women in Tech Africa

Want to discover more about the fascinating developments in RPA and other ways to streamline business processes? Book your pass now for Women in Tech Africa, taking place March 18-19, 2020 at the CCCC, Cape Town. You'll have the opportunity to attend Sarah Njamu's workshop and numerous other talks and sessions that will help you upskill both as a tech and female professional.


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