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Dawn of the cloud Robots

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By Mark Atterby

Cloud_Robot 14RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and the cloud are on a collision course. This collision will have a significant impact on the BPO and outsourcing industries. Originally aimed at automating the actions and processes associated with managing existing software applications and manipulating data, RPA offers significant benefits and opportunities as existing applications are transferred to the cloud.

In a recent article, Jeff Augustin, Managing Director of outsourcing consultancy Alsbridge, was quoted as saying, “Smart robots will increasingly operate in the cloud, and we’ll see a ‘labor-as-a-service’ approach emerge as clients and providers find that intelligent tools and virtual agents can be easily and flexibly hosted on cloud platforms,” Augustin says[i]. “This will build even more momentum and interest in autonomics.”

RPA software can automatically process transactions, manipulate data, trigger responses, and communicate with other systems as necessary. It eliminates the need for people to perform high-volume IT support, workflow, remote infrastructure, and back-office processes, such as those found in finance, accounting, supply chain management, customer service, and human resources.

It has the ability to eliminate many of the data entry and back office tasks and activities currently being managed by BPO and outsourcing contracts.

When you bring the cloud and BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) into the picture, the level of automation matched with the level of flexibility in managing capacity offers enterprises significant cost savings through improved efficiency.

When you bring the cloud and BPaaS (Business Process as a Service) into the picture, the level of automation matched with the level of flexibility in managing capacity offers enterprises significant cost savings through improved efficiency.

The original value proposition BPO offered in terms of labour arbitrage, according to Russell Ives Accenture Australia’s Operations Lead,  is fast eroding as the aggressive application of automation reduces headcount across BPO programs.

Ives states, “There are two significant implications here, firstly clients are expecting to see more than just labour arbitrage from their BPO provider, as they are looking for a partner who can work with them to apply automation improvements to both retained and outsourced functions – this is no longer optional”.

“Secondly it will change the economics of BPO programs.  Providers will need to recognise and manage for a much smaller tail in the latter years of programs when the impacts of automation have significantly reduced outsourced headcount. Additionally providers will need to identify news sources of value and work with their to clients to establish commercial structures that have the right economic balance between lower value automated processes and knowledge related processes performed by higher skilled agents”.

Be prepared. The robots are coming to the cloud.

[i] http://www.cio.com/article/2864429/outsourcing/10-outsourcing-trends-to-watch-in-2015.html  
May 12, 2015
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