Peter Dickinson is a partner at international law firm Mayer Brown and co-leads their global Technology Transactions practice; he's also a hugely respected thought leader and a regular contributor to Outsource, offering insight on a broad range of legal and technological issues. A perfect fit, in other words, for our Life Lessons series: take it away, Peter...
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Thus far our quest for robotic process automation (RPA) enlightenment has focused on some of the personalities building this emerging industry – from software providers, outsourcers and implementers. Alex Nield is Head of Solution Design for Business Services at Direct Line Group (DLG), and he represents the most important constituency in RPA-land: the small but growing cadre of ‘RPA buyers’. These are the organisations that have actually turned to RPA to transform the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. It is time for Live Wires to get real.
When the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee released its 'Robots and Artificial Intelligence' report last month, it was a much-needed shot of adrenaline, encouraging the government to take seriously the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the future UK workforce. However, what was not clear was the focus companies should take in order to be on the upside of the jobs outlook in an increasingly automated world.
To summarise the report:
For years, the outsourcing world has been buzzing about reshoring (or "backshoring"), taking the jobs we sent offshore years ago and bringing them back to the US and Europe. Low wages, cheap property, and favourable taxes made offshore manufacturing very attractive. But in recent years property values rose, staff turnover increased, and wages just keep heading up. Despite weakening economics, offshore still made sense. Until today!
Earlier today, I had the great pleasure of hosting the seventh episode of Outsource Talks, our webinar series – for those of you not yet familiar with this especially marvellous project - that brings the time-honoured talkshow model to the international sourcing, outsourcing and business transformation community.
Earlier this year, Outsource editor Jamie Liddell had the privilege of chairing a roundtable dinner hosted by Capgemini, and attended by some of the most prominent advisors in the UK outsourcing community. The evening saw a huge variety of topics covered - but took place under Chatham House Rules, meaning that the conversation did not take place "on the record".
When we talk about ‘robotics’, we are no longer talking about plugging in ‘dumb’ machines to mimic human action. Enterprise process robotics has evolved to a point where it can be integrated into existing systems, talking directly to applications with a built-in understanding of process best practice. However, despite this, perceptions often remain outdated.
For as long as I can remember, arguments about outsourcing have played a part in the US election cycle. In the final stages of the presidential election the two candidates will make promises they can’t keep and declarations about how bad outsourcing is for the American economy.
From the invention of the wheel and steam engine to fax machines and desktop computers, technology has always shaped the way we work - but in the last few decades, the pace of innovation has sped up exponentially, forcing employees and those who lead them to constantly blaze new ground and determine new paradigms for the way things are done. The biggest recent change in work and workplace culture is the introduction of robots.
Wipro’s KR Sanjiv is a busy man. As CTO, he has the weighty task of making sense of tomorrow’s disruptive technologies - today - then enabling Wipro to compete and win in these areas. We met him to hear how his team thinks about the future, and where RPA and AI fit into their roadmap.
Outsource: Nipun, welcome to Outsource. As is customary with our Q&As, let’s begin with some scene-setting: could you please tell our audience a bit about Enlighta and your own role within the organisation?
Nipun Sehgal: Enlighta is a leading provider of supplier performance, risk and compliance, and relationship management solutions enabling enterprises to derive more business value from global and local supplier relationships.
Who are Blue Prism? The company isn’t yet a household name, but in automation circles it is something of a trailblazer. They actually coined the term “robotic process automation” back in 2012, and the early evangelists of RPA (such as HfS and Ovum) rapidly seized on Blue Prism case studies as the first signs of something new stirring in the world of automation. Live Wires caught up with Pat Geary, CMO at Blue Prism, to understand who they are and where they are heading.
2016 has presented the British labour market with some of the most worrying forecasts and challenging new laws the country has seen in a long time.
Halfway through March, George Osborne announced the Office for Budget Responsibility’s GDP growth forecast, which highlighted that the UK economy will grow more slowly in the next five years than previously expected. The reason? The OBR forecasts a rather worrying reduction in productivity.
Outsource: So, Eleanor, welcome on board – at last! You are of course already a well-known figure in the space – and more familiar now to the SIG audience following your appearance at last month’s SIG Summit in Florida – but for those few of our readers to whom you’re still an unknown quantity, could you give us a bit of background on who you are and your career thus far?
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a new type of software that acts as a virtual workforce. It is the hottest ticket in the already hype-fuelled world of automation, and some would say that in the next two to three years it is going to become an integral part of your operations – whether in-house, shared services or outsourced. But who is driving RPA? And if the future is RPA, who is going to make it happen so quickly?