As many as 19 robots help the staff working in office and administrative positions in GE Hungary’s Budapest shared service center employing 2,000 staff. By automating certain elements of financial, accounting, procurement, logistics, IT, and HR processes, GE aims to improve the quality and efficiency of administrative processes.
A press release by GE says the company also wishes to increase its capacity available for performing these tasks in the shrinking domestic labor market where it focuses on the recruitment of highly qualified staff with strong technical, mathematical, data analysis, and problem-solving skills.
At present, about 1.5 million robots help us, humans, in our work, but the number of thinking and self-learning machines may reach 6 million within a few years. The fast evolving of technology, automation, additive manufacturing and artificial intelligence will fundamentally transform the world of work in the coming years. The changes will impose implications not only in the industry, but in the service sector as well. GE believes that technology increases productivity, standard of living and that it opens new opportunities for employees as well.
Unlocking the potential
“After rapid productivity gains in the 2nd half of the 20th century, in the past 10 years GDP increased by only 3% in Europe, while by 10% in the US. We believe that unlocking the potential of digitalization and automation are essential tools for restarting productivity growth not only in the industry, but also in administrative and office workflows” - said Joerg Bauer, President of GE Hungary. “In Hungary, GE’s goal is to continuously upgrade its activities and build global solutions using the unique proximity of core supply chain units, advanced services and its digital hub” - added Joerg Bauer.
“The digital transformation is already underway also at GE Global Operations performing GE’s administrative processes in Europe and Russia. Our goal is to turn our Budapest shared service center into a fully integrated and automated unit, which supports GE’s growth in Europe and Hungary in an efficient way,” said Björn Bergabo, GE Global Operation’s Regional Managing Director. “In addition, we aim at ensuring that 60% of GE’s administrative and support functions are performed by service centers by the end of 2017. The means for achieving these goals is RPA, Robotic Process Automation,” added the director.
The European teams of GE Global Operations are helped by 19 RPA robots already. RPA robots are practically computer applications that enable GE workers to create and configure computer programs to carry out repetitive workflows and transactions, occurring in large quantities, to analyze data, and to communicate with and to query data from other digital systems.
In the offices of GE Global Operations, such robots help GE employees, for example, in matching order numbers in the incoming invoices and those recorded in GE’s system, monitoring the payment deadlines stated in invoices, recording the receivables, managing warranties, making tax returns, but also “digital team members” check the payment exchange rates of international financial transactions or, for example, request and compare offers for international deliveries.
According to a study prepared by the Belgian Breugel Institute as commissioned by GE, 54% of the jobs can be automated in the OECD countries in the next two decades, that is, more than 5 jobs will be affected out of 10 in some form and to some degree by digital transformation. GE estimates that up to 40% of the financial and administrative workflows can be automated in the future.
In parallel with the advancement of the automation of processes and the development of the cognitive capabilities of robots, the skills and competencies that the company favors in hiring and employing its workers will also change at all companies, including GE Global Operations.
While in the future, the role of highly skilled specialists, managers, consultants, IT professionals capable of managing and handling digital technologies, and staff with strong technical, mathematical, data analysis, and problem-solving skills will become all the more important.
In order to prepare its staff for the challenges of digitalization and robotization, GE Global Operations regularly organizes digitalization workshops, professional presentations, and in-service training as well as individual and group training courses already at this stage.