The Future of Robotic Process Automation

Is the World Ready for Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic Process Automation Training. Are you a robot? Or do you think for yourself?The world might not have flying cars or we don’t live in outer space, yet. But one thing for certain about the present and future, is that we will be sharing our workforce with robots  – whether you are ready or not. The “future of work” depends on Robotics Process Automation (RPA) training to get our work done with ease, but what exactly is it?

RPA “is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems,” according to the Institute for Robotic Processing Automation & Artificial Intelligence (IRPAAI). The tool would come in handy for those who need to automate work of heavy volume, tasks that can be replicated with ease and minimal interference every single day. Automated work would save time, money, and productivity that could be used in other sectors.

According to Symphony, an RPA employee would be able to handle a human employee would, with “increased speed,” “greater compliance,” and better quality, thanks to “increased accuracy.”

How can employers and employees benefit?

For Employers, Robotic Process Automation does the following:

  • It reduces costs in outsourcing and offshoring. Tasks handled through RPA will dramatically cut down on costs typically spent outside of the company. Employees will be able to learn and adapt to the work and strategies that would normally only be known on the outside, which benefits the company as a whole.
  • Less time needed for training. New processes can be incorporated easier which robotic automation can digest and provide more accurate results.
  • Can operate 24/7.” Business hours are nonexistent with RPA, and work is responded to as needed.

For Employees:

  • Higher productivity. RPA gets rid of the “tedious” tasks that can cause burnout when done day after day, leaving brainpower for more critical and creative work.

 

The Controversy

Anything innovative in tech will come with its share of controversy. The talk in tech will completely replace jobs performed by humans and “rise up against us.”

In an extensive piece in the April 2017 edition of Vanity Fair, Elon Musk laid out his many concerns regarding AI, including the strawberry picking scenario.

“Let’s say you create a self-improving AI to pick strawberries and it gets better and better at picking strawberries and picks more and more and it is self-improving, so all it really wants to do is pick strawberries. So then it would have all the world be strawberry fields. Strawberry fields forever.”

During an interview at the AeroAstro Centennial Symposium in 2014, Musk said:

“‘I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful. I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.'”

Other experts are stating this is not the actual case with RPA, and that it won’t replace jobs. New jobs will be created. Leslie Willcocks, professor of technology, work and globalisation at the London School of Economics, said to Tech World, “I don’t think it [automation] can be said to be in itself a job threat. In fact, it has sometimes increased jobs.

“People are jumping way ahead in saying there will be massive job losses,” he continued. “If used for efficiency, yes there will be some displacement of labour. But the fact is there have always been other jobs created. We haven’t ended up in a situation where there is high unemployment as a result of IT.”

Gajen Kandiah, executive vice president of business process services at Cognizant, said humans and machines will be working together, rather than separately. “Automation has its limits. There are some things that robots just cannot do like medical management, underwriting, case reviews, speak or comprehend colloquial slang, understand people’s emotions and think on their feet,” he said.

“Enhancing human skills is a more effective and sustainable way of working than trying to automate everything,” added Willcocks.

 

Ignore RPA and Die; Embrace RPA and Thrive.
A Robotics Guide for Leaders and Account Directors.

RPA and BPO/ITO/KPOs

A robotic process automation guide for company leaders and account directors.

The same question has come up over and over in the last two years.

And still I get asked it every single week…

It is usually mixed into the following comments

We are a BPO/ITO/KPO…. We are afraid of what RPA will do to our business… We are being very cautious… Our account directors don’t understand RPA…. They are afraid…. They don’t get rewarded for implementing RPA…. They do get rewarded for revenues and profitability… They see RPA as a threat…

“What shall we do about RPA?”

It took me a while to formulate a response that was clear enough.

This message works.

Think about a contract that is in year 3 of a 5 year deal.

The ball is in your court.

You can choose to do nothing.

You protect your revenues over the last half of the contract and prepare for a rebid.

At the rebid you present your RPA transformation plans.

And your client turns around and asks why the hell you sat on these ideas. Why on earth did you wait until the rebid to bring these transformation ideas to us?

All the while, in the build up to the rebid, your competitors will have been talking about RPA. Without you knowing it your credibility will be being chipped away.

So when you come to the rebid and present all these wonderful ideas, your chance of winning the contract again is close to zero.

You will look like you have been protecting your FTE-based revenues, to the detriment of the client.

You will look slow.

You will look opportunistic.

Or you will look dumb – did you not realise that the world had changed dramatically during the last few years of this contract?

[Note – soon RPA will be BAU, so hardly transformation, just keeping up with the market.]

So, let’s take a look at the alternative approach.

You will realise that your fears are absolutely misplaced.

And you will learn that – if you are bold now – you are embedded in your client for the rest of this digital transformation journey.

You have to picture the timeline.

Let’s say Day 1 of Year 4 is the 1st January.

You have trained your Account Director teams to have meaningful, strategic discussions about RPA and everything beyond.

You meet with your client executives and introduce your vision for transforming the operations, along with some strong ideas about where to get started.

That is Day 1.

No client moves fast.

Realistically it is going to be 2, maybe 3 months, before they can digest what you are proposing and you can jointly create a couple of areas to run a Proof of Concept.

So Month 3, Year 4. Still no impact on your revenues.

Day 1, Month 4, Year 4. You start a Proof of Concept.

At the fastest, this is going to take 3 months.

So, Day 1, Month 7, Year 4. Still no impact on your revenues.

But you have shown your client you can innovate AND deliver.

You’ve also dealt with one of the biggest temptations by clients in outsourcing scenarios i.e. to bring the robotic work back in house and run the bots themselves.

Key message to play – “if these processes were non-core when they were done by humans, they are still non-core when done by bots”.

Encourage your clients to automate core processes, instead, even with your help, now you have demonstrated your capabilities.

So, already, we are talking about revenue growth opportunities.

During the POC you will likely have talked about future processes to be automated.

But after the POC is completed and the results shared, then it is about ramping up.

And at that stage you are even more embedded. They need your skills and your technology and – crucially – your market knowledge and strategic leadership.

In the fastest possible scenario, maybe you have automated 6-10 more processes by the start of Year 5.

Day 1, Month 1, Year 5. There is no reason why there should be any impact on your revenues – certainly nothing material.

And you will have positioned your organisation as a thought leader, an innovator, a visionary – who they come to rely on, and get excited by the journey. It is a long time since they will have had such exciting conversations involving BPO or ITO. Take advantage of it and establish your credibility.

Now, it’s Day 1, Month 4, Year 5.

Worst case some micro, non-material impact on your revenues.

Best case – you have increased your revenues because your client sees what you can deliver.

Really what you are doing is absolutely essential. You are gradually adapting your business model to the new world.

This is not the client ripping up the existing contract and moving to a transaction based deal overnight.

This is natural, comfortable, collaborative change.

There is some chance that your initial revenue streams will be impacted.

But who is to say that the processes are not more profitable, even if top line revenues are lower.

Or that you pick up way more business because of your actions.

Remember that the choice is between doing something (regardless of impact) and doing nothing and ending up with zero revenue.

Some things you need to address – compensation structures is one of them. You need to incentivise your teams for RPA implementation, away from short term profitability. That will be the glue that makes the long term relationship and profitability stick.

At long last, your conversations with client executives will be exciting and interesting. For you and them.

The big consultancies are so stretched – and really don’t have the depth of real experience – so there is a gap in the market for you to fill.

Advise your clients. Lead them. Educate them. And you will be operating at a higher level than ever before.

Clients always complain that BPO and ITO suppliers don’t innovate.

This is your huge, once in a lifetime almost, opportunity to embed yourself in your client’s journey.

And that is how you must see the world.

Threat #1 = do nothing. That means you lose the contract.

Opportunity #1 is way more exciting and you keep the contract.

Tough choice?

BTW – we have a Account Leadership Course that we offer. It teaches your teams about RPA and Ai, why this is not a threat, how to talk with clients, and how to win business. Most importantly, it teaches you to become the strategic partner they always wanted, winning more work and longer contracts. Contact me at eb@therpaacademy.com for private details of this training. And look at our site for all our RPA classes and courses https://www.therpaacademy.com

Speed of change: Your career decision

The speed of change is accelerating in the field of robotic process automation training

What is the Speed of Change in Robotic Process Automation?

I guess if I was Blue Prism or Automation Anywhere I would think it has take a lifetime for the market to get where it is.

They – and others – were certainly years ahead of the market.

Like many success stories, having a vision and persevering with that vision are the essential ingredients.

Now that the market is bubbling, individuals have to decide how they want to respond.

Ignoring it or grasping the change are the two options.

I can’t think of a single job that will NOT be impacted by automation and AI to some degree.

If you are a nurse, owner of a small shop, or running a shared services operation – everyone is going to be impacted. Maybe not by RPA, but certainly by some element of automation and AI.

In the areas that RPA touches, the impact is dramatic on one big factor: The speed of change.

While it may have taken years to get the market going, any organisation that is implementing RPA now or in the future is going to be getting rid of jobs and/or changing jobs radically.

Old jobs at many levels won’t exist at all.

Others will change dramatically.

This is not Chicken Little time, but I’d advise anyone to take a cold hard look at which side of the fence you want to fall.

Option 1 – You skill up for the certainty of the future,

Option 2 – You sit back and wait for the change to hit you, as it certainly will at some point.

The primary driver behind creating The RPA Academy was to help people get easy access to the skills and knowledge that they will need for their future.

Until now it has been surprisingly hard to find and access this knowledge.

Short term this means training on the main RPA platforms. Blue Prism, UiPath, Automation Anywhere and more.

But it also means teaching the business to adapt:

  • the HR policies it needs to recruit and train and reward when the workforce is increasingly digitally driven;
  • the BCP/DR required to keep this all going;
  • the Compliance impact and opportunities, etc. etc.

No one is teaching this at the universities. By the time that happens, the revolution will already have happened.

But at an individual level, we can all still make the choice of which side of the fence we want to be.

Currently this can make you a leader, with advanced skills that are in huge demand. Soon it will be a “me too” requirement.

Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere Training: Go To The RPA Academy

by Edward Brooks
RPA Consultant, Building and Implementing Strategy and RPA Platforms