Friday, December 5, 2014

Robots meeting Cyborgs in the Desktop Automation world!

Hello all. I’m now back in the UK (London) driving the OpenSpan EMEA region. Our 140% growth with our human (Desktop Automation) technology in the last 3 years has been global and the EMEA team has been great part of that. Being both a US and British citizen, it was obviously a great assignment for me to take this region to the next level.

So, what’s been happening in the world of human automation since I spoke to you last? Well, as you know OpenSpan has been doing Desktop Automation for the last 10 years and I have recently seen some other great companies (and people) create more and more acceptance around the back office automation space. Most of this has been around what looks to be called Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and what OpenSpan has previously been calling unattended, full automation or automation broker (we used any term that suited the particular audience at the time). I do however like “RPA” and if that’s what the industry wants and likes, I am up for playing along,. After all, our customers have been also using RPA for over 10 years!

So what’s the difference between Robotic Process Automation and Desktop Automation? Staying on the “Robotics” theme, we could say that Desktop Automation could be classed as “Cyborg Process Automation” (CPA). In fact, those that remember our super human “The Six Million Dollar man” may not have realized this series was based on a novel called “Cyborg” by Martin Caidin,. A human, with robotic like qualities – needed in critical places where you still need a human to make key decisions or interaction with a customer (call centers, support centers etc.,)

So, CPA, which automates a lot of what a human does at the desktop whilst RPA, automates all of what a human does and thus replaces the human entirely! There are processes that are ripe for both and there are some processes that are not applicable to either! CPA solutions can ultimately evolve in an agile manner to run 100% robotically. Effectively, the Cyborg becomes the robot!

For OpenSpan, it has always been the same core technology that does both CPA and RPA. Our customers build a center of excellence around our agile Automation, and business and IT decide together the right processes to automate. Since the discreet automations built for CPA can be moved into RPA (and vice versa), you are not tasked to having two teams, two security models and two different long term maintenance headaches!

Whether you start with CPA or RPA, the ROI can be significant and fast. CPA critically though, often effects a much larger group of users first (say 1,000 or 10,000 call center agents) whilst RPA effects smaller disparate groups (back office/operations).  CPA offers 25% reduction in task times in the first few months which can result in FTE cuts, better customer service or whatever the customer chooses to do with the saving.  In back office banking, we’ve even seen some them use CPA so that 50 people get the same productivity as 300. RPA is pretty much looking for 100% straight away, and in smaller groups.

Either way, we are in interesting times as Enterprises and Governments are under urgently increasing cost-cutting and austerity exercises themselves, you can be sure CPA and RPA use is only going to accelerate.