CIOs today face a number of front-burner issues that either didn’t exist or barely registered on the radars of their counterparts in 2000. Yet at the same time, the more things change, the more things stay the same. One imperative today is to deliver business agility and competitive edge through technology, specifically through the effective application of analytics and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to predict and rapidly respond to business requirements.
Over the past 40 years something extraordinary has been happening in organisations. The staff and management who populate them have been getting progressively smarter, at least when measured by their education, ongoing training and number of books read. Paradoxically, the organisations themselves seemed to have become dumber. What is the nature of this organisational dumbing-down, you ask? Well, it takes the form of basic governance processes that seem to have virtually vanished.
In our quest for robotic process automation (RPA) enlightenment, we will come across a lot of speculation and hyperbole on the way. In such a young industry this is perhaps inevitable, but on this journey we will try to separate the wheat from the chaff and pick out real evidence as much as possible. Let’s start as we mean to go on: Last month I saw the most startling and fundamentally new demonstration I have yet encountered of how RPA is turning the old world of outsourcing upside down.
In this article I examine the question of whether an in-house or outsourced approach is best when transforming business support services such as HR, procurement, customer care, etc. So for example an organisation might ask itself: “Should we establish a robotic process automation (RPA) regime in our accounting operation or should we get a business process outsourcing (BPO) provider to run our accounting for us, which would include the deployment of its RPA regime?” I am aware that this question is a very old chestnut.
From April this year, companies operating in the UK will need to get their supply chains (which includes overseas outsourcing arrangements) in order to meet new reporting requirement in the UK. The new Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the MSA) represents the first European legislation aimed at 21st-century trafficking / forced labour and it requires businesses operating in the UK with a turnover of over £36 million to prepare and publish a “slavery and human trafficking statement” for each financial year.
Recent research by the UK’s Tech Partnership into the views and opinions of 1,600 employers across the UK concluded that economic growth is being put at risk due to skills gaps in the tech workforce. Employers reported significant problems in recruitment, with 42% of those recruiting tech specialists saying that they were constrained by ‘hard to fill’ vacancies. Yet, the picture is not universally bleak. The majority of UK universities offer computer science degrees and we are seeing a raft of new technology-focused courses coming on stream.
The concept of "capability" has long been used in strategic analysis to establish defensible leadership. What are the capabilities that are being established by leading service providers and customers? How do you assess the difference between hype and substance?
The Commercial Court ruling in BT Cornwall Limited v Cornwall Council and Others is a sharp reminder that if an outsourced service provider does not provide the service it has promised to provide, to the standard it has promised, it should not expect the customer to allow the contract, however large and multi-faceted, to continue. Put another way, the customer is almost always right.
"When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.” - Dean Jackson
Of all the jargon and buzzwords beloved of IT professionals - "the cloud", "SaaS", "web 2.0" and an infinity of others - "Big Data" is the most alluringly easy to misunderstand. Whilst big data systems do entail a large volume of data, the real benefits come from the speed (or 'velocity') of accumulation, and the array of different types of data (or 'variety') that are collected and analysed. Sources might be traditional databases, GPS logs, social media feeds, photos, video and other mixed media inputs.