Recently, HfS CEO Phil Fersht hosted Symphony CEO David Poole, UiPath COO Guy Kirkwood, and Genfour CTO Andrew Rayner for a discussion on what we could expect to see in the automation industry as RPA technology matures. They discussed topics ranging from the fate of BPO providers to the emergence and evolution of Robotic BPO. Here are some tidbits of what they had to say:
With the rapid growth of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), how can we expect traditional BPO providers to fare? Will they drastically transform to adapt or will they find some other way to deal with increasing robotic automation? According to David, BPO as we know it will completely change: “Over time, conventional BPO will get dissolved by automation because it takes away the underlying need for outsourcing in the first place.” His stance is that automation is a better solution to BPO, and a need for benchmarking will drive people to want the better solution. Ultimately, it will force the traditional BPO players into becoming much more capable in robotic solutions. This adjustment, he says, will be a struggle for most BPO providers.
“There is a lot of hype out there, but the key is to have a complete understanding of the digital ecosystem
and how you piece together the components that make up a solution.”
Phil revealed an eye-opening metric. HfS estimates that spending on automation is currently only at $2 billion of a possible $850 billion total of automatable operations. This just goes to show that there is much more room for new capabilities in the RPA industry. There is certainly a lot of hype from RPA vendors about their capabilities, but how does one effectively navigate through it as this space grows?
David says that it’s all a matter of sticking to the fundamentals: “There is a lot of hype out there, but the key is to have a complete understanding of the digital ecosystem and how you piece together the components that make up a solution.” He urges companies to stick with the fundamentals and practice ‘disciplined acceleration.’ For example, think about what you need and work with a consultant to help you really understand this ecosystem, and then move forward. At the end of the day, you will end up progressing much quicker and being much more successful than if you rushed in.
David and Guy both agreed that RPA will serve as the foundation for the increasingly complex automation landscape of the future. More specifically, David believes there will first be a convergence of tools in functional areas that make the most sense. For example, cognitive tools such as Celaton, that enable the conversion of unstructured data to a more structured format will be a fitting complement to RPA. Ultimately it will be driven by the needs of organizations, because “there will be different solutions that meet different client needs,” David says.
There is no question that Robotic BPO (R-BPO) will become the next evolution of providing automation services. “I see R-BPO as a market that will emerge specifically in the pure-play industry,” David says. “It is very difficult for an established, traditional BPO provider to become a pure-play or robotic player. They are not built that way, motivated that way, and will not be able to suddenly transition into that industry.”
“The RPA pure-plays will become the new R-BPO pure-plays.”
In the shorter term, many clients are asking for managed Center of Excellence (CoE) solutions, where we provide the skilled resources, work with their IT functions, facilitate design thinking, and manage the ongoing environment. This is already a major step in the direction of R-BPO. So according to David, it could be pretty soon that “the RPA pure-plays will become the new R-BPO pure-plays.”
Watch the entire webinar: The video is available on HfS Research.