Less than two per cent of the global outsourcing market is affected by robotic process automation (RPA). And yet, some estimates show that the growth of RPA use may approach 90 per cent year-over-year, according to an interview with Everest Group VP Sarah Burnett at a recent seminar organised by Accenture.
Statistics are a lot of fun, and contentious too. Yet they permit us to remain fairly grounded. Let’s start with the obvious. From self-driving vehicles and semi-autonomous robots to intelligent algorithms and predictive analytical tools, machines are increasingly capable of performing a wide range of jobs that have long been human domains. A 2013 study by researchers at Oxford University posited that as many as 47% of all jobs in the United States are at risk of “computerisation”.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is all the rage these days, and with good reason. Software bots that replicate the way humans perform repetitive, rule-based tasks are driving significant cost savings and productivity increases. For as little as $10,000 a year, an enterprise can implement and maintain a bot that performs the routine work of five to ten people. Moreover, RPA can deliver a wide range of business benefits such as improved data collection and accuracy, auditability and compliance.
Wow! Isn’t it amazing how quickly things change? In the early 2000s, the very pinnacle of outsourcing was Walmart. Walmart didn’t outsource its own operations. Instead, it made history by working with offshore suppliers, introducing American consumers to low-cost Chinese goods. Consumers fell in love with the low prices, and Walmart grew to 14,000 stores, becoming the biggest corporation in America.
Trust is at the root of all successful outsourcing partnerships. Without trust between all parties, commercial relationships can break down. And as I’m sure you know it’s far more expensive to get new business in the door or find new partners to work with; than it is to keep the status quo.
So how can outsourcers build and maintain trust? I may be biased but I firmly believe that the availability of technology that provides round the clock oversight is the answer.
Recent stories by, amongst others, the BBC detailing large, well-organised and presumably very profitable scamming organisations targeting UK TalkTalk customers have hardly helped the already-lowly reputation of offshore contact centres - but may unfortunately be only the tip of a perilous iceberg.
There always seems to be plenty of commentary around what’s driving innovation and growth in both large enterprises and startups. By comparison, the mid-market seems slightly neglected; this seems an oversight given the crucial role it plays in the UK economy. Although this market segment represents just 1% of UK firms, medium-sized businesses are increasing revenues by an average of 6.7% each year and the mid-market is expected to boost the economy by 18% over the next five years.
Congratulations! It’s been three years since you decided to outsource accounts payable. Or, accounts receivable, or customer care, or payroll, or HR, or procurement, or any one of a dozen business process functions typically outsourced, in part or in full. You’ve finally stabilised operations, established consistent market standard processes, addressed the fears from the field, started realising those projected savings, and convinced IT that it is possible to improve response time without creating a horrific security breach.
In a multi-partner service delivery model, transparency and visibility are essential to an effective security and supplier risk management (SRM) strategy. Yet a wide range of evidence suggests that this transparency is sorely lacking in many cases. According to a study by the independent Ponemon Institute, 73 per cent of suppliers that experience a data breach don’t notify other vendors in the supply chain, while more than a third (37 per cent) of suppliers don’t notify their customers.