How Can We Take The Robot Out of You? [ARTICLE]

Digital Transformation vs. the Carbon-Based Workforce

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Seth Adler

Zurich Insurance Company Digital Transformation Lead Deepak Subbarao considers pace of work, pace of change, empathy as productivity and metrics that matter

Deepak Subbarao joins us and shares the fact that the only thing that’s constant is change. That’s especially true in his role as Digital Transformation lead at Zurich Insurance Company where he’s got the “fascinating job of trying to understand how you add value to the business, but at the same time help them jump into the next wave of technologies. We’ve already gone through let's say restructuring, or let's say we've gone through a lot of changes.”

Deepak’s working with a few hypotheses in ensuring he accomplishes his overall goal of digital transformation, namely:

  • “How can you maybe make people work faster?“
  • “How can you save people time so that they can work what they should be doing?”
  • “How can you remove some of the work that's not necessary?”
  • “How can technology really help that?”

And before he answers any of those questions - before he solves anything - he first seeks to find the problem, “if there is a problem, what is the right solution? And then once you know the solution, how can you apply, how fast can you apply?”

Deepak is of course focused on solving the problems with the right solutions and doing that as quickly as possible.


Deepak has taken it upon himself to actually understand the plight of the employee. He’s looking at what folks are doing and how each carbon based piece of the workforce can benefit from automation. “If it doesn't add value to the business and if you don't get paid more, really there's no value by working more. You've been asking for help, "I have so much work to do, can I have one more person helping me out". What if it's a robot that can help you rather than a person?”


He’s identified the problem and he’s got a potential solution. But first, even with pace of change as a goal, he ensures that the enterprise components, the people- are aware of the fact that automation is not the end-goal-state of digital transformation. And he understands that even if that goal is in place, it’s imperative that you communicate it effectively. “The messaging is important. I think our business is not trying to replace people with robots, we know that. That's not the future. It doesn't help any change or transformation program when you go with that mindset.”

OK, so we’ve got problems, we’ve got solutions; we’ve even got change management.
On to metrics- is it number of bots for Zurich? “We don't have a metric of how many robots we install. Absolutely not.”

No. If you’re measuring success- how could the number of bots possibly be a metric worth considering? What does that even mean?

“The measure of success is overtime. That was our first measure of success. We said ‘can we cut overtime? Can we help you to have a better work-life balance? Can we help you to see your kids, your partner your hobbies that you can do in spare time. Can we do that.’”


Overtime seems to be a perfectly reasonable metric. You’re shaving off the part of the employee’s job which they don’t appreciate and for which you don’t want to pay.

“The challenge is basically to correlate and everything that's impacting overtime. We've done a lot of transformation programs or change programs. People are acknowledging- people say that the work has helped us to reduce the repetitive jobs that we used to do. And who would not be happy if you get to work in the morning to the reports that you want to analyze, rather than spending half your day clicking something to get the reports, right? You've been hired to do a particular job. How can we help you to do that job, rather than progressively what has been transformed into your job?”


Ah, bad transformation. How can we help you do the job you’ve been hired for- or for the job to which you should be up-skilled vs. the cutting and pasting nonsense that’s become part of your daily routine? We want you doing the report. You want to be doing the report. You shouldn’t be sifting through big data to prepare to do the report. Get here in the morning and start the report with an intelligent automation assist. We don’t have to pay you to sift through that data, you don’t have to sift through that data, the bot enjoys sifting through that data. Everybody wins. “How can we take the robot out of you?”