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.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
This year will see the BPO industry transform itself in a multitude of ways, meaning that businesses must adapt or face the prospect of falling behind their competitors. With a month of 2017 already behind us, what can we expect to come to the sector over the course of the rest of the year – and beyond - in terms of new services and advances in the technology at the heart of the industry?
The sourcing industry has so far had a spectacularly wonderful run. Twenty-five years of constant change, dynamism, technical competencies; business-aligned, people-centric, and bottom-line focused; intrinsically able to deliver on all promises made. As with any journey, bumps and roadblocks are expected. Navigating them painstakingly has created heroes of many an organisation, spilling over benefits into the developing world, and capital markets.
Peter Dickinson is a partner at international law firm Mayer Brown and co-leads their global Technology Transactions practice; he's also a hugely respected thought leader and a regular contributor to Outsource, offering insight on a broad range of legal and technological issues. A perfect fit, in other words, for our Life Lessons series: take it away, Peter...
Thus far our quest for robotic process automation (RPA) enlightenment has focused on some of the personalities building this emerging industry – from software providers, outsourcers and implementers. Alex Nield is Head of Solution Design for Business Services at Direct Line Group (DLG), and he represents the most important constituency in RPA-land: the small but growing cadre of ‘RPA buyers’. These are the organisations that have actually turned to RPA to transform the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. It is time for Live Wires to get real.
When the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee released its 'Robots and Artificial Intelligence' report last month, it was a much-needed shot of adrenaline, encouraging the government to take seriously the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the future UK workforce. However, what was not clear was the focus companies should take in order to be on the upside of the jobs outlook in an increasingly automated world.
To summarise the report:
For years, the outsourcing world has been buzzing about reshoring (or "backshoring"), taking the jobs we sent offshore years ago and bringing them back to the US and Europe. Low wages, cheap property, and favourable taxes made offshore manufacturing very attractive. But in recent years property values rose, staff turnover increased, and wages just keep heading up. Despite weakening economics, offshore still made sense. Until today!
Earlier today, I had the great pleasure of hosting the seventh episode of Outsource Talks, our webinar series – for those of you not yet familiar with this especially marvellous project - that brings the time-honoured talkshow model to the international sourcing, outsourcing and business transformation community.
Earlier this year, Outsource editor Jamie Liddell had the privilege of chairing a roundtable dinner hosted by Capgemini, and attended by some of the most prominent advisors in the UK outsourcing community. The evening saw a huge variety of topics covered - but took place under Chatham House Rules, meaning that the conversation did not take place "on the record".
When we talk about ‘robotics’, we are no longer talking about plugging in ‘dumb’ machines to mimic human action. Enterprise process robotics has evolved to a point where it can be integrated into existing systems, talking directly to applications with a built-in understanding of process best practice. However, despite this, perceptions often remain outdated.