2017 was the year companies got honest about automation. Throughout the year, in conducting our own research and studying stats produced in the field, we’ve learned a lot about what businesses really think about balancing their combined human and digital workforces to deliver truly transformational digital services.
Earlier in the year, at the RPA & Artificial Intelligence for BFSI show in London, we got some thought provoking results when we asked attendees how they related to statements such as ‘I don’t understand how to quantify the total value delivered by all my small automation initiatives,’ ‘it is challenging to maintain insight and control over my combined human and digital workforce,’ and ‘I don’t know how to measure the benefits of automation beyond simple cost savings.’ All of these statements ranked as top concerns amongst those attending the event.
More recently, HfS analyst Tom Reuner’s The Raw Truth About RPA also really struck a chord with us. Tom’s research revealed that only 3% of companies in his survey were satisfied with their RPA programmes, with buyers making statements like ‘we didn’t anticipate the impact on adjacent processes and workflows,’ or simply ‘we bought the wrong product’ – both strong statements about how a lack of service orchestration can negatively impact a project.
What it all boils down to is this: a lot of companies are putting or have put automation in place, but very few are getting a significant benefit from it, and even fewer are managing successful automation at scale.
On a positive note, many companies are opening their eyes to improved service delivery and scale via the use of RPA and Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO) together, a combination where automated processes are strategically orchestrated through a central RSO platform.
As RSO moves into the mainstream, here are our top three RSO predictions for 2018:
1. Scaling the automation wall with ease
If 2017 was the year that companies slammed into the automation scaling wall, 2018 will be the year that the people delivering RPA will understand that they need RSO to deliver automation at scale.
Companies see the value of RPA as a tool to do integrations that we couldn’t really do before. However, these different types of integration are a bit like sticking plasters and aren’t helping companies to take the opportunity to deliver end-to-end services in a transformed way – all RPA is doing it helping companies get to a point where they are delivering sub-processes within a service slightly more efficiently.
To make RPA work seamlessly requires either direct technology integration between the various tools, or a dedicated person managing the process workflow. Both of these approaches seem like a heavy overhead and in the case of the technical integration, can cause complexity and problems when the process (or technology) changes later.
Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO) manages this entire process seamlessly. Orchestration acts as an underlying ‘conveyor belt’ for your automation program, moving work through each stage of the process to be dealt with by RPA bots, other intelligent automation technology agents or humans, depending on the most suitable worker for the task.
2. Removing the pig’s digital lipstick
There’s a huge gap between the digitally native organisations and those who are trying to catch up, and there are an awful lot of companies that are trying to put digital lipstick on the pig. For example, in many insurance companies, the only way available to interact with customers is by post. Companies have implemented RPA around processes such as the experience of surrendering insurance policies or getting a quote on their pensions, but the processes are still not delivered digitally end-to-end.
By introducing RSO into the equation, you get the efficiencies of RPA linking to other systems, but you also get the customer experience and service layer managed by RSO, which means that you can put any given request through to a self-service, email or bot channel. In other words, it’s about delivering the service via the most suitable channel, in a way that makes customers happy.
3. Stop the reinvention of the wheel
Intelligent automation will start to sink strategic IT projects, particularly ‘re-platforming’ projects in insurance. During re-platforming projects, companies get rid of their old platforms, for example asset management and policy management platforms, and replace them with new versions of the same technology. It’s a time consuming exercise that can cost upwards of £20m, and is fraught with risk, because it’s taking something that ain’t broke and fixing it.
Robotic Service Orchestration (RSO) provides the benefit of re-platforming without having to sink costs into an extensive IT project. With RSO, companies remove the need for programming and technical integration, removing the technical challenges around ‘hooking’ each took into the next step of automated processes, which takes up a lot of IT resource.
Overall, RSO allows companies to create digital services that manage all the rules and has the same outcome as re-platforming, but involves less spend and less risk.
Next year, many companies will finally grasp that the route to ‘digital’ isn’t just about dealing with legacy technology – it’s about dealing with legacy thinking, processes and culture. The speed and agility of digitally native organisations simply cannot be matched with legacy thinking and technology. Companies will realise that the only way they can successfully create digital brands and businesses is to foster the necessary culture, agility and process to support automation.
Do you have any thoughts or predictions about the future of automation in 2018 and beyond? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear them! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.