Catalytic Blog

Keep up with the latest digital transformation trends and learn how automation and AI are revolutionizing the future of work across industries.

How to upskill your employees to be ‘citizen automators’

Your business already has the potential talent you need for automation—if you take the right approach to upskilling.

Contrary to popular beliefs about robots stealing jobs, economists say that automation will actually create jobs. The challenge, however, may come from the anticipated skills mismatch that business leaders say will rapidly emerge in the next few years to fill new roles relative to automation and artificial intelligence.

But new jobs don’t have to mean replacing your current workforce with new employees. How? Education, upskilling, and business-user-focused technology.

Training for the future of work starts now

The World Economic Forum confirms that the future of work will require equipping staff with new skills and fostering workplace flexibility.

And according to ManPowerGroup, executives are on board. The organization's 2019 report on the impact of automation on the future of work found that 76% of U.S. companies plan to upskill their workforce.

The rise of retraining employees has already started. Take it from Amazon, which has announced one of the largest reskilling initiatives to date. Instead of laying off workers as the e-commerce giant increasingly automates warehouse and delivery functions, it plans to retrain 100,000 people to move into more highly skilled jobs within the company.

By 2025, Amazon plans to have upskilled about a third of its U.S. workforce through its own education initiatives like Amazon Technical Academy and Machine Learning University. While supporting employees through digital transformation is a $700 million investment, the company believes that leveraging its current workforce—especially in a competitive job market—will pay off.

Amazon found that the fast-growing, highly skilled jobs that it will increasingly need to fill include data-mapping specialists, data scientists, solutions architects, and business analysts, which will all require differing levels of fluency in automation and AI. But in the tightest labor market in a half century, Amazon is competing with other companies to hire the same innovative talent with digital technology and automation skills. That’s why it’s instead looking within its own organization to train current employees in order to adapt to the changing job market in a cost-effective and organization-transforming way.

Upskilling employees for success

Accenture is another company participating in the upskilling trend. In its annual Tech Vision report, Accenture calls these in-demand employee types the “human+ worker,” meaning workers whose abilities are augmented by their command of technology. They are also often called the “citizen developer”—non-technical business users across all functional areas who not only embrace new technology at work, but become experts and use it to build new solutions. When it comes to people who adopt automation, we call them the “citizen automator.”

No matter what you call them, with their specific knowledge of the company’s pain points and adaptation to technology, these upskilled employees leverage innovative ways to reinvent existing roles and find new ways to thrive in the digital era and contribute to sustainable self-service business intelligence. This is more specialized, strategic and fiscally sustainable than adding external resources.

More and more employees are eager to take advantage of these opportunities, says a new survey by the B2B ratings firm, Clutch. It found that 70% of people would participate in job retraining if it were offered to them.

So why aren’t more organizations offering to upskill employees like Accenture and Amazon? Another recent survey thinks many cumbersome enterprise technologies might be to blame.

In The Rise of the Citizen Developer by Unisphere Research and Kintone, almost half of citizen developers surveyed reported that training was necessary to support and encourage such professionals, but providing an easy-to-use platform that doesn’t require coding was even more important.

Building business-user-friendly tech

In short, Amazon’s retraining investment proves the future of work is well underway and strategic upskilling in the era of automation is a competitive move. But what works for one of the largest technology companies in the world might not be the right upskilling approach for every business’ budget to enable employees to adapt to digital transformation.

For a less intensive time and financial investment, companies should take a more proactive approach to adopting new technologies. With every new automation and AI tool a company adopts, keeping current and future business users in mind could be more important in preventing a large skills gap in digital transformation. The more user-friendly a technology is, the easier it will be to train employees (often without an IT background) to use it and successfully impact the organization with it.

The rise of low-code or no-code platforms are already making this possible. Inc. Magazine calls them “the future of software.” It says, “The more power we can put in the hands of the people who use [new software] tools every day, the better off we'll be.”

In short, when more companies choose software that allows employees to directly manage new technology like automation, fewer people will have to fear being replaced by them.

Empowering ‘citizen automators’ with Catalytic

Catalytic is an automation cloud software that was created with these businesses—and the people who work there—in mind. It’s simple enough that anyone can learn to automate, and powerful enough to scale across an enterprise.

This is what makes Catalytic the perfect environment to start your automation journey. You can continue achieving full digital transformation with any employee willing to learn and become citizen automators.

The Catalytic customer journey often starts with a group of people looking to build an automation to accelerate a time-consuming process like invoice processing to make one of their business’ day-to-day functions go faster. As we demonstrate how to add the building blocks that will automate each step in the process, they understand how they can use these tools to automate any process in their business.

From there, more employees can learn how to build and manage additional automations—and they can be trained in three days.

This enables easier upskilling of employees to become citizen automators and deploy automations quickly to make their familiar business processes more efficient. Eventually, this group of newly trained employees often lead a business to establish an Automation Center of Excellence, which propels forward a company’s digital transformation and evolution through self-service.




Learn more about best practices for an automation strategy that will upskill your employees for success.

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