Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offers great potential for efficiency and yet many organizations fail to move beyond a simple Proof of Concept (POC). Everest Group research shows that many POCs do not represent the full complexities of deploying RPA in real operational environments, leading to difficulties in scaling up. And yet, it is only by scaling up RPA that organizations can maximize its benefits. How do organizations address this problem and get the most value from their RPA investment?
Following introductions, we will offer a very brief, context-setting best practice session on how we have seen organizations accelerate RPA benefits. The bulk of the time will be dedicated to group discussion, with participants sharing how they are approaching their automation programs, including the role of POCs, deployment approaches, and other relevant topics as they arise.
Who should attend
Enterprise global services and outsourcing executives who want to share and discuss practical hints and tips to move beyond the POC stage to make the most of their RPA deployments.
What you will learn
Learn about the typical challenges peer organizations have faced in deploying RPA and how they have overcome them Share thoughts on best practices for deploying RPA
Use of Service Delivery Automation (SDA) – which refers to various types of technologies that can automate inputs to a process, the process itself, or the outputs from a process – is surging in the global services industry. When scaling beyond proof of concept, organizations are finding it’s important to bring together the SDA skills and knowledge into an automation Center of Excellence (CoE). Doing so enables the business to develop its SDA capabilities and competencies in a controlled and centralized manner, in turn helping ensure maximum success from the SDA initiative.
Through our research into automation Centers of Excellence, we’ve identified several areas in which organizations struggle.
The right Center of Excellence structure
While there are numerous possible structures for a SDA CoE, we’ve found that a pyramid structure is ideal, as it helps bring the CoE governance in-line with its customers. The pyramid should have three distinct layers, each with its unique set of responsibilities and clearly defined line of communication with the client organization. Clarity around roles and responsibilities across different layers in the pyramid is critical, not only to avoid miscommunications and missteps, but also to help maximize operational efficiency.
The Service Delivery Automation skills demand-supply gap
Demand for SDA skills has far outpaced the talent supply. Some are filling the gap by locating the Center of Excellence in locations with mature, trainable talent. Others are partnering with specialist firms, e.g., technology vendors and service providers, to leverage their domain experience and access to skilled talent, collaborating with startups, and seeking talent from technology groups and professional communities.
Multiple leading global companies are also training their existing employees on SDA. They typically engage technology vendors and/or external consultants to conduct extensive training programs for three to six months. Further, they encourage employees to join and participate in professional networks /communities and other events to learn from other SDA professionals’ experiences. This approach not only helps build internal skills for automation and reduces dependency on hiring from external sources, but also provides FTEs impacted by automation with alternative career paths.
Conventional location strategies don’t work
The traditional offshore-centric sourcing model based on labour arbitrage has limited relevance for SDA. Because of SDA’s unique requirements, organizations are investing in a diversified location portfolio for SDA in order to leverage the best propositions of each. For example, mature talent markets such as India offer a relatively larger talent pool, are suitable for a large-scale centre, and can deliver quick ramp-up pace. Onshore and nearshore locations offer greater depth and breadth of skills, enable greater interaction with business stakeholders, and provide accelerated time-to-market. And co-locating the SDA CoE with existing global services/digital technology centres can help the organization benefit from greater collaboration and economies of scale.
Accenture announced today that it has acquired Genfour, the pureplay automation integration and professional services company, for an undisclosed amount. Everest Group research indicates that Genfour is growing fast more than doubling revenue year on year but that is the norm in a growth market that is currently dominated by RPA technologies. Revenue mix includes annuity, run and operate as well as consultancy. The company head count includes a large developer pool. Genfour has a strong presence in the insurance and utilities sectors, as well as a few clients located in the US.
Acquisition of additional automation skills likely a key driver
Genfour works with a number of Service Delivery Automation (SDA) technologies, Blue Prism, UiPath, and Celaton. It also has its own Genfour Autonomic platform with multi-tenant features and interfaces to third party workflow and reporting software. It not only develops and deploys automation for clients but offers on-going as-a-service operation and support services.
Automation skills are in short supply in the market, and Genfour brings Accenture expert personnel. This is likely to be the main reason for the acquisition.
Client acquisition is unlikely to have been a driver for this take over given that many of Genfour’s clients are mid-sized organizations that are not usually targeted by Accenture. However, Genfour’s presence in the insurance sector might have helped.
In terms of technology, the two companies’ capabilities mostly complement each other. Accenture has built extensive automation capabilities in recent years by following a strategy of partnering with leading automation technology vendors, Blue Prism and IPsoft among them. While the two companies share expertise in Blue prism, and to some extent, UiPath, Genfour adds Celaton and its own IP to the Accenture mix.
Expect the M&A trend to continue
The market is moving towards increasing levels of domain and industry specific automation. Accenture is likely to follow this trend and build capabilities for specific domains and vertical expertise as well as increasingly more complex projects.
It is unsurprising that there is M&A activity in this market. We have predicted this, and there is more to come. This acquisition is unlikely to be the last in SDA in 2017. Check out Everest Groups’ RPA market and technology trends and predictions in our latest webinar download.
There is much demand for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) but adoption can raise a number of questions and challenges for those who are at the start of their automation journeys.
On September 14, members of the NOA will be presented with a valuable opportunity to hear Sarah Burnett of Everest Group talk about strategies for enterprise-grade automation, service providers’ approach to automated services plus partnerships and contracting models. In addition, the event will include industry specialists who will also cover the following topics:
Should companies deploy RPA internally or hire a service provider to do it for them?
Should they buy the software licenses or buy through their service providers?
Should automation be in the scope of their outsourcing contracts?
Lessons for the next phase; emerging challenges and characteristics of successful adoption
Emerging challenges as the market ramps up, and organizations attempt to scale their automation capability
These presentations will use ongoing research into successful RPA adopters to pull out attributes and practices of successful organizations.
Sarah Burnett, automation expert and Vice President, Research, Everest Group
Simon Gamlin, Partner/International Head of IT & Outsourcing, Eversheds
Leslie Willcocks, Professor and Director of the Outsourcing Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science
Service delivery automation (SDA) is gaining a lot of traction in the application management arena. As CIOs face tighter IT budgets each year, they also look at creating more value for business in the form of aligning IT applications to business outcomes through digital initiatives. This increased spending on discretionary digital projects has to be compensated through reduced spending on legacy services.
SDA not only targets reduction of input FTE or labor but also aims at improvement of business outcomes. The four pillars that drive automation-related cost savings in an application context can be classified as follows:
Reduction in input labor – This is the most talked about area on which the premise of SDA has been established. Some of the key areas where reduction has been targeted include tasks (job scheduling, ad-hoc reports, active directory requests etc.), technical monitoring, and preventive maintenance of downstream systems.
Time to market – As companies look toward evolving business models that demand moving to digital space for survival, five or more releases in a month has become a new normal. The earlier practice of an annual or bi-annual release has become redundant due to the fast changing shape of the market. DevOps has been adopted as a practice by many organizations to meet this requirement, and it aims at shifting organizational structure from a traditional silo- based team to an agile one-team approach with focus on people, processes, tools, and accelerators.
Service management – Service management targets improvement of the service experience for clients. Some of the key value-additions by service providers have been in the area of service reporting. They have established command centers that churn data extracted from the client service management tool and translate it into visual representations in a single click that are easy to follow and can provide deep insights into weak links of the service value chain.
Improved business outcomes – Accelerators and pre-configured templates serve as one of the highest value adds in terms of automating business processes for applications. As companies, such as SAP, launch specific pre-configured templates for different verticals like Retail, Energy, etc., the need to customize the ERP solutions has reduced. For others, who look to automate their processes, automating the configuration of reports/items into existing systems (e.g., creating a sales order in the order-to-cash system) present good opportunities. Apart from that, developing dashboards that can align IT SLAs to business KPIs can help business and IT teams collaboratively identify the impact of IT issues on business in a time-bound manner as well as reduce the value loss due to IT failures.
Service providers have been leveraging automation in some shape or form for a number of years now, though the mechanism of passing the risks/benefits to buyers has been hazy. As buyers’ maturity and understanding has increased over time due to the adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Cognitive technologies, the automation discussion has become center-stage.
Automation is bringing significant change to service delivery mechanisms as deals come up for restructuring or re-pricing. It will serve as one of the key areas for the service providers to focus on to differentiate themselves and increase their share in an extremely competitive market.