The entire source-to-pay spectrum in procurement stares at the eventuality named automation. With automation having the potential to lower procurement costs, generate greater savings and render greater value, its aggressive foray into the source-to-pay spectrum remains only a matter of time.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Yesterday’s sci-fi flicks and fantasy films like Star Wars depicted the future with robots, virtual realities and self-driven cars.
Today’s outsourcers and shared services operations are expected to deliver not just cost savings, but also innovation, agility, quality and growth. At the same time the bar has been raised when it comes to expectations with customers having lower tolerance for mistakes, delays or poor service. In fact, Gartner rates customer experience at the top of CEOs’ priorities for 2017. It is the ability for organisations to respond and adapt quickly to both customer requests and changing market circumstances that can provide that key point of differentiation.
From customer-facing artificial intelligence systems, to cloud-based applications that have created the digital gig economy, or mobile-based banking systems that facilitate fast payments, in recent years a number of industry sectors have been challenged by the development of digital and data-based technologies by start–ups. These technologies promise to transform every organisation's relationship with its customers and introduce unprecedented levels of efficiency within its business.
In a maturing market, buyers are becoming increasingly aware that the umbrella term “intelligent automation” comprises a broad spectrum of functionality, ranging from teachable bots that execute repeatable and scripted tasks, to more advanced cognitive tools that apply pattern recognition and language processing capabilities to analyse data, make decisions and learn from experience.
Rick Sturge is EVP Business Development at Firstsource Solutions, with over two decades' experience in outsourcing and business transformation. We turned to Rick for the latest in our Life Lessons series - and received lessons aplenty...
What has been the single most significant development to impact your profession or area of business during your career, and why?
Statistics are a lot of fun, and contentious too. Yet they permit us to remain fairly grounded. Let’s start with the obvious. From self-driving vehicles and semi-autonomous robots to intelligent algorithms and predictive analytical tools, machines are increasingly capable of performing a wide range of jobs that have long been human domains. A 2013 study by researchers at Oxford University posited that as many as 47% of all jobs in the United States are at risk of “computerisation”.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is all the rage these days, and with good reason. Software bots that replicate the way humans perform repetitive, rule-based tasks are driving significant cost savings and productivity increases. For as little as $10,000 a year, an enterprise can implement and maintain a bot that performs the routine work of five to ten people. Moreover, RPA can deliver a wide range of business benefits such as improved data collection and accuracy, auditability and compliance.
In today’s business climate, it is innovation levels coupled with speed to market that will determine a company’s success. This was one of the reasons why, in 2016, we saw more interest in trends around optimising business processes – from automation to the as-a-service ecosystem. Businesses are looking to make the most not just of their employed staff, but also of their technology and the pure raw data that they hold.