After the hype has come the disappointment. In 2016 most shared services people thought RPA might solve a plethora of problems. On the whole, it hasn’t. And that’s been our fault and RPA’s fault.
- We have overestimated the capability of the tool, thinking bots could automate process. Bots are designed to automate tasks
- We struggle to tell a bot what to do: “The inability of people to describe what they do in their day job is astonishing sometimes,” says Laya Healthcare IT Director Ian Brennan. “Getting to that level of detail is a challenge.” I.e. getting teams to map out Desk Top Procedures to give to a bot builder is challenging.
- Bots are expensive - the business case might not work. Bots cost $1K to $16K, and may just reduce half a head, so your overall costs actually increase
- Most bots are still dumb (this is changing). Instead of flagging an issue, they generally just process bad data really quickly
- This has generally meant that, although adoption is wide, penetration has not been deep (many shared services have between 1 and 5 bots).
What’s the route forward? My prediction is that outsourcers will have the scale and knowledge to best deploy bots. By working with an outsourcer on your bot program, you can use their:
- Knowledge and experience of bot solutions (they will likely partner with a handful, and know which one best suits your requirements)
- Scale, which means your costs will decrease
- Expertise regarding what to ask the bot to do
Many RPA players have partnered with outsourcers. Interestingly, many observers thought RPA might be the death knell for BPOs. In a turn of events, it would seem robots are now giving outsourcers a new lease on life and sense of purpose.
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