How widespread do you see the adoption of robotic process automation being within your own organisation over the next 12 months?
As an ITO we are always looking for ways to expedite while securing quality. For this reason software reuse, software factory and agile methods are in play and being advanced on an ongoing basis, driven by our strategic agenda (not as the market pushes). Adoption is not apt to be completed in 12 months; what you can expect is that some will start the adoption process which is most likely going to take a minimum of two years before you see signs of real robotic process operations. I fear however that some companies who might be in search of recreating themselves may jump on board without fully understanding the goal – nor, more importantly, the journey commitment. This will produce issues for them but also for the customers who they convince that this is the way to go.
Jerry E. Durant
The International Institute for Outsource Management
I’m already an avid user of this technology, but have only just scratched the surface with regards to its full potential in our own business. I’ve also spoken to many other potential and new users of robotics about the journey I’ve been on with this technology and all will have similar stories to myself over the next 12–18 months. The story is the same regardless of sector: repetitive tasks in the back office, too costly to automate using BPMS and so manually completed. That was of course until RPA came on the scene…
At Outsource Reality we advise senior execs on their outsourcing strategies; we do not have alignment with any suppliers and hence are prepared to say whether outsourcing is the correct strategy or not. There is now definite interest and research being carried out in this area but I believe the main impacts for the next 12 months will be delays to contracts while the opportunites are understood and the market matures.
Outsource Reality Limited
We will answer from the perspective of a few of Virtual Operations’ most innovative BPO clients.
One of them, a multinational outsourcing company, has already begun auditing more then 3,000 back office processes they manage for clients around the world. Their goal: catalogue and prioritise each for automation impact and begin converting those to RPA as quickly as possible.
Another has commissioned our company to help them build, staff and train a Robotic Process Automation Center of Excellence capable of converting manual processes to automation, solutioning and pricing new opportunities optimised for robotic automation and for program-managing these new ‘virtual back office’ teams of robotic FTEs.
Finally, a third has engaged their entire Process Excellence team (more than a dozen Six Sigma Black Belts) to find ways to automate as many of their 60 million transactions per year that they handle for their clients.
RPA is a strategic investment for Sutherland and so there are a lot of high expectations across both the firm and the industry. Finding the right opportunities and not overselling is critical: we are keen to avoid making decisions purely fueled by the hype cycle. The impact of RPA on the right opportunity is huge, but it will not solve all problems. Over the next year we will have gone live with several major RPA deployments across multiple sectors (one of which is going live within the next month). We will have built RPA into several of our sector platforms and will have grown our current RPA development and operations teams to cater for the increase in demand.
Global Head of Process Robotics & AVP – Innovation Labs Product Lead
Sutherland Global Services
The adoption of robotic automation is driving our business as we continue to engage with new partners, BPOs and global organisations that are eager to reap the business value of a virtual back office workforce. Robotic process automation is no longer operating at the fringes of the BPO sector. It is evolving to become a core area. Last year we saw many outsourcers explore robotic process automation with pilots, investment reviews and skunk works projects. Now, we are seeing these projects mature and expand enterprise-wide. Outsourcers are building distinct practices and centres of excellence around robotic automation, investing in new technologies, methodologies and frameworks to create a new option for process management.
It is already widespread. We use robotics on all our BPO projects – with a catalogue of more than 200 examples. Our own GBS organisation also uses robotics to great effect.
But robotics is simply a point solution, on a continuum of automation, for a process which still requires human interaction. In future, many processes might be automated entirely from end to end just as we have seen industries automated (share trading, card processing etc.) HP’s business exchange services do that already, underpinning electricity trading in the UK, healthcare exchange in the US and more recently for Deluxe Digital, film distribution.
F&A Capability Lead – EMEA
Hewlett Packard Company
To read other sections of our article ‘Age of the Robots’, from Outsource #35 (Spring 2014), click here.