Robotic Process Automation: BPO Game Changer or Latest Shiny Object?

Shiny ObjectsLet’s say you are a forward looking BPO, staying on top of industry shifts and trends and continuously fine-tuning your business model to provide the perfect cost-value-innovation balance.  Along comes Robotic Process Automation (RPA), a technology so bold some are predicting it will reshape the entire industry.  Does this really call for a retooling of your entire model or is it just the latest ‘shiny’ object – sure to be forgotten a quarter or two from now?

Here’s what outsourcing industry experts are saying about Robotic Process Automation.

At BPO conference last fall, NelsonHall analyst Rachael Stormonth said her definition for true BPO innovation requires that it:

  • Introduces new ideas and/or technology
  • Is creative / has not been done before
  • Can help deliver transformation
  • Outcome may not be known

She stated Robotic Process Automation not only meets her definition of innovation but said, “it will be bigger than cloud.”  Rachael observed “(Robotic Automation) is in very early days still but likely to be a real differentiator for BPO vendors.”  Her justifications for RPA as an innovation catalyst include:

  • Breaks the link between FTEs and volume / revenue growth
  • Reduces level of dependence on labor arbitrage for lowering cost to serve
  • Takes out some mundane, repetitive tasks for better employee motivation / reduced attrition
  • Reduces errors
  • Provides real scalability
  • Always on: 24X7
  • Provides process analytics
  • Improves productivity without radical process reengineering / changes to legacy systems of record

What about the outsourcing legal advisors?

In an article on CIO.com, Shawn C. Helms, partner in the outsourcing and technology transactions practices at K&L Gates commented, “2014 will see significant growth in the development and implementation of robot-like technologies that will automate many tasks currently performed by full-time employees in [outsourcing] deals. Given the rise of robots replacing people in manufacturing and logistics, it is not a stretch to predict that robots will move up the intellectual value chain as artificial intelligence continues to develop.”

Then there’s this from the 2013 Global Business Services Industry Study by KPMG/HfS Research.

“Cost, strategic operational analytics, and automation dominate business outcomes for today’s sourcing strategies, with four out of ten organizations viewing these as critical to the success of their shared services and outsourcing programs.  Labor arbitrage has lost its shine among executives. While operational cost reduction leads 43 percent of executives’ interest, the industry has witnessed a recent focus shifting toward investments in technology (37 percent) and analytics (38 percent) that reduce reliance on labor.”

Finally, Charles Sutherland, SVP BPO Strategies for HfS Research said this in his recent report, Framing a Constitution for Robotistan.

“A year later we are even more convinced that robotic automation has the potential to change the BPO marketplace.  We have discovered since then that robotic automation has the potential for much wider application, and we may need to fundamentally change our thinking about rules-based processes. The implications of widespread adoption of robotic automation for clients, advisors and service providers are so great that we believe all participants in our marketplace will need to develop their own responses to the opportunities and challenges robotic automation will create.” 

Now, what if you are still on the fence about the potential for Robotic Process Automation in your organization?

Suppose we told you that in six to eight weeks you could have an actual process of your own fully automated and in live production.  What if we said that to identify and automate that ideal first process would cost no more than $50K, maybe even less?  What if we gave you a cost/benefit model that showed every dollar you invest on Robotic Process Automation saves you three dollars in labor and related overhead cost?

Would you be ready to move ahead with a decisive plan of action or would it take you months to think about it?  Can you afford to loose that amount of time to your competition?

We thought so.  Now, let’s talk.

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