BPO providers are under pressure to increase efficiency and improve service and whilst the industry has enjoyed many years of sustained growth, local currency fluctuations and wage inflation have meant that BPO's are continually looking for new geographies and new technology to drive next generation offerings. One new technology is Robotic Automation.
Robotic Automation is the automation of clerical tasks with "Robotic FTE's" configured to create a "Virtual Back Office" to process manual, rules based back office processes at a new economic price point and at unprecedented speed which could provide a key to unlocking the next generation of BPO service models.
The advantage of robotic automation is that it can deliver a new level of efficiency and a new economic model which enables BPO providers and their clients to repatriate or "re-shore" processes, delivering savings on the cost of offshoring by effectively automating the offshore person for certain processes. It's particularly appealing to those in companies with back-office tasks that cross a number of disciplines, such as banks, utility companies and telecommunications businesses.
BPO's which fail to adopt this technology, as part of their own offerings, risk losing out to competitors who are embracing this approach or potentially seeing customers start to take back processes in-house at the end of the contracts.
At a recent meeting of the operational agility forum, 30 representatives of some of the UK's largest Banks, Utilities, Telco's, Retailers and the NHS discussed how "robotic" automation provides a rapid business-led alternative to outsourcing, off shoring, and traditional IT and how the speed and agility of the approach can be used to compliment, accelerate and protect strategic IT infrastructure initiatives.
It is this potential to create new BPO solutions which embed robotic automation into the very core of the offering that could drive the next evolution in the BPO provider market, enabling companies to offer better service, increased efficiency and the opportunity to base their service anywhere in a virtualised environment.
The benefits for BPO's wishing to reduce clerical costs and improve quality include:
1. Robotic FTE's are 1/3 of the price of off-shored FTE's and can work 24/7 without errors
2. Speed to automation and speed to profit - days and weeks to automate processes
3. 100's of small to medium clerical procedures can be automated rapidly
4. "Self Build" - no need for specialist IT, the "super users" in the operations teams train the robots and/or the BPO's robotic automation competency centre provides the resource
5. Robots are trained to do repetitive clerical tasks and drive existing applications so no costly integration and expensive process re-design expertise needed
6. The robots drive existing client applications through the user interface so even Citrix applications can be driven by the robots
7. A small specialist team from the business operations works with the robotic team to train them, manage referrals and continually improve the robots operational performance
8. The robotic automation platform is secure, audited and managed within an IT corridor of governance
9. The robots run in a virtualised environment and so can be rapidly scaled up and down on demand and operate in any jurisdiction
The case study outlines how a complex business process automation project was delivered 3 to 5 times faster than a traditional IT program.