BluePrism World was a great event held recently in London. The event was a mixture of very informative presentations by leading global specialists like Professor Lynda Gratton (1) and her published work around the future of work and our life expectancy increase and the challenges this brings.... and clients using the BluePrism RPA technology.

The human element:

Some of the key take-ways from Lynda in her very informative presentation were:

  1. As we live longer we will most likely be expected to work a lot longer (80!?)
  2. RPA will just help accelerate the changes of what we will be doing in our future jobs
  3. Robots will take many mundane jobs away but will create many others
  4. As humans we will need to focus on our unique skills which are generally around:
    1. Emotional Intelligence
    2. Teaching others
    3. Active learning (continually in our work life moving forward)
    4. Creativity
    5. Active listening
    6. Critical thinking

Putting humans under unnecessary pressure will take away the skills they need as humans such as creativity!

We should all have a lot more free time and our lives will not be fixed as they have been traditionally and perhaps having a year out in your 40's or 50's will become more of the norm.

Advances in AI:

AI today using access to extremely large computer power, such a Google AI platforms can enable a machine to learn some of the most complex human mental challenges, such as the game GO, from a self-learn process (without pre-training) in 35 days, to be able to play better than any human has ever played… this is amazing on one level and can be scary at the extreme.

Key nuggets from existing users of RPA (using BluePrism):

There were many presentations from leading Banks (e.g. Nordea) with one of the most advanced examples of Robot Adoption (around 250 robots), Drinks (Heineken) and other organisations who have adopted the use of Robot Processing Automation and how this has been creating two types of work forces in their organisations.

The Human Workforce and the Robot workforce. One particular company (The Bank of Ireland) preferred to use friendlier terms and the (virtual) robots were called ’Bees’ with the team that looked after them as Beekeepers! Their 130 bees are treated like another workforce, having a team of people that look after them and ensure that any upgrades to systems are pre-checked, to ensure their robots do not end up coming to an abrupt halt, if the technology they are interfacing with suddenly changes.

Some of the general take- always from existing users were:

A - When starting with an RPA project: Preparation:

  1. Start small and use simple processes at first
  2. Get buy–in from everyone in the company
  3. Create an internal promotional video around the strategy, so people understand what you are looking to do. (Ensure they do not think you are taking their jobs away!)
  4. One company said the most important thing is ‘ Attention to Detail’
  5. Get a good partner to help you in particular in understanding how RPA should be set up
  6. RPA can help democratise IT and make it easier to control
  7. The key with any data related strategy, is that Data needs to be clean
  8. Before starting your RPA project, ensure your data is cleansed, as otherwise you will have problems that will be magnified if is not right.
  9. The RPA process needs to be thought from before you start. Simple things like allowing access for a robot, as would a human might be the very first challenge when moving into RPA, that you might find. The IT are used to dealing with access for humans and not necessarily access for Robots.

B -The RPA Journey:

  1. Whilst from independent research around 7% of companies use RPA to try and decrease the workforce, in the majority of companies want to use RPA to try and create better customer experience, by:
    1. making process a lot more aligned to what customers want (e.g. automation)
    2. Giving customers a choice of say self-service – using bots and RPA or self-service with human interactions where preferred – or say in sensitive areas
  2. Reducing fraud through faster automation and hence reducing customer overall costs
  3. Be flexible on design
  4. Should be easy to configure
  5. Available 24/7 capabilities
  6. Ensure you look after your Developers, these should be closer to the business in their knowledge than traditional IT
  7. Typically a robot is usually measured as creating enough value as one human would do in say a day.
  8. The more robots you deploy, the more maintenance will be created, so efficiency may decrease as far as adoption of new robots as the scale of robot numbers increases.

C - RPA Strategy and examples:

  1. In the case of Nordea, their teams of robots went through several iterations as they increased in numbers to 250. These iterations were: Centralised; Decentralised; Hybrid and finally Hub and Spoke.
  2. Enable total cost of ownership to continually come down as common processes are not needed to be replicated, but re-used in different business areas
  3. Do not rush to AI but get your robots to free staff to allow for say better customer experience UX.
  4. Employ Subject matter experts to ensure processes are designed better
  5. Have a clear plan on what you want to achieve
  6. The reality is that you can achieve the equivalent of say 3.5 humans up to around 7, if the processes are set up in extremely efficient ways.
  7. RPA can help you deal with peaks in your business (like a temporary human team waiting to be used).
  8. Maintenance and management of RPA team is fundamental to getting the best out of this technology.
  9. Do not underestimate the complexity and offering-robots-as-a service internally at first may create expectations that might be impossible to meet.
  10. As you grow you may need a team of developers and those doing maintenance
  11. Create a solid pipeline. It is best to have people waiting for their new processes than having hungry developers chomping for work that does not exist and risk losing them
  12. Try to get the company to ‘Think Robot’ bring new skills and train staff – get accreditation
  13. Grab the future today – companies adopting this technologies are usually leaders in their sectors.
  14. AI is top of the list for most CIO's so RPA could be a good way to get things moving

D - RPA benefits and examples:

  1. The technology does not need to be tested in the way previous technologies work, as it is effectively working differently to other technologies as it is only copying data off existing technologies – it is non-intrusive by design.
  2. ADP with 102 robots were saving 400,000 man hours a year in savings (their technology is mission critical as they manage around 70% of all US staff payments at any one time).
  3. Zurich the Insurer can settle a Life policy in theory in around 7 days – due to the adoption of RPA and redesigning processes to be better automated. This is very different to the average 50 days a typical insurer takes to settle a claim. This is a paradigm shift for their company but more importantly their customers and future customers.
  4. Companies like Xerox and Kodak and others have left things too late, the lesson from these companies is do not procrastinate and act now! Your tomorrow starts today!

Everis has a Centre of Excellence specialising specifically with RPA and BluePrism. It also runs an expanding Cognitive Applications Development Centre developing accelerated fast track AI and bot services as part of their whole Digital Data and Cognitive strategy.

1) Professor Lynda Gatton: