This week, I took part in the latest Blue Prism Café with thought leaders from Fujitsu America and its implementation partner Novatio, to discuss how the ICT multinational employs robotic process automation (RPA) technology - across its internal business operations.
This blog will cover Fujitsu’s progress - post its 2016 adoption of Blue Prism’s connected RPA technology – explaining how it’s embraced and leveraged a Digital Workforce and generated results through an internal optimisation program. Also highlighted, is how Fujitsu delivers incredible productivity, plans to use connected RPA with AI and other cognitive technologies - and the key lessons learned.
As one of the largest IT service providers globally – with customers in over 100 countries – Fujitsu is focused on operational excellence - internally and externally. Constantly at the forefront of innovation, the company also holds the most AI patents in the world.
With a culture of continuous transformation, integration and innovation, Fujitsu wanted to build on what it had achieved and partnered with Novatio to introduce Blue Prism’s connected RPA technology. This resulted in the creation of a cloud-based, RPA platform that’s used to automate Fujitsu’s repetitive, logical and structured operational tasks.
In the early days of its RPA journey, Fujitsu looked to prove the technology’s viability. A series of outcome-driven, pilot automation projects were initiated – with use uses cases identified only where quantifiable value gains could be achieved. Using 6 digital workers (software robots), RPA quickly proved its worth as Fujitsu’s break even target for the pilots was exceeded - with tasks being achieved significantly faster with automation - than by humans.
Evolving RPA across the business
To sustain its early success, Fujitsu created a globally distributed, CoE to deliver an industrialized RPA operating model consisting of an ‘agile automation factory’ with modular, self-organizing delivery pods that can be easily scaled. Within the CoE are over 40 Digital Workers, currently automating tasks - on a 24/7 basis.
With increased requirements for automation coming from Fujitsu’s business units that include; HR, Retail and Finance – new methodologies are being introduced to ensure that RPA is more consumable and scalable across the company. Also being examined is how to improve RPA and use it as the ‘glue’ to orchestrate innovations that include delivering smarter workflows, and using new process analytics to create data lakes.
To keep pace with this demand, The CoE’s team has now grown to 200 people and consists of developers, business analysts, project managers and architects. They all help to deliver RPA effectively, as well as building and refining this ecosystem - and utilize operational data analytics to generate insights that drive structural continuous improvement too.
RPA in practice
RPA is delivering many successful use cases across Fujitsu’s operations. For example, Digital Workers are used to automate an alert validation process at Fujitsu’s NOC that originally involved manually validating, notifying and routing 600 daily tickets for appropriate resolution. Following RPA, this process is reduced from 4 minutes - to 20 seconds per ticket and 81% of tickets are now processed without manual intervention – saving 40 hours of daily effort.
Another Fujitsu business function that’s being improved is service desk operations by automating a 3 strike policy for contacting end users to verify resolution. This liberates the service team to refocus on fixing issues – rather than chasing for resolution confirmations, and results in improved SLAs – while reducing time and costs too.
Overall, Fujitsu has seen 196% ROI via automation and self service across managed workplace services, 45% call avoidance of all tickets created through its social command center and 96.6% work reduction across 10 use cases.
Sustaining RPA is an ongoing challenge so Fujitsu ensures that it remains an enabler for success and continues to fit into the larger operational ecosystem. Managing change and cultural buy in of RPA is cited as key and the company is highly effective at ensuring that employees understand how it operates around them and why it’s appealing. Although RPA saves Fujitsu significant costs – it does so without headcount reduction and enables staff to refocus on other more stimulating areas - which is all communicated company-wide, via workshops.
Fujitsu operate in a culture of continuous innovation and has extensive experience of AI deployment, which will be enabled by RPA to create a new range of solutions. These solutions will also be enriched with intelligent chatbots, predictive analysis, machine learning and optical character recognition capabilities too. One innovation example is automated performance management of Digital Workers – enhanced with intelligence and decision making capabilities – so they’ll be self managing. Another involves automation of business processes monitoring to generate data for analysis.
When asked about lessons learnt, Fujitsu and Novatio, cited five key actions that they believe will make a RPA journey easier for others:
- Identify clearly the needs and roles for RPA very early on in your journey
- Ensure that the right stakeholders are engaged to ensure RPA buy in and the correct leadership team is in place to enable successful digital transformation
- Be willing to fail fast, always learn from mistakes - and swiftly modify your approach accordingly
- Be aware that RPA takes time – it isn’t a quick process
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