Analysts foresee that within a few years the adoption of RPA (advanced process automation) tools will reduce BPO F&A contract value by 20%. ACCA claims that “a software solution costs roughly only 1/9 (11%) compared to the same job performed by humans”. Where is this gap between 20 and 89% coming from – feasibility, skills or are we just not convinced?
SSON Global State of the Shared Services and Outsourcing Industry 2016 Survey says: “Robotics Process Automation [RPA]. The automation headliner for the past year has been robotic process automation, and yet the majority of Shared Services have a) not implemented RPA, and b) don’t understand or recognize its value.”
When I was a boy, the world was talking about the first large scale robotic manufacturing lines. Simple robots like cash ATM’s were rare in Poland and the most popular robot was the large standing music jukebox in the bars and near-road restaurants. Then, the first on-demand services showed up and we learned that some of them are using robots reshuffling CD’s and DVD’s in a big room so that we could see what we want. A small version of this we had in our HI-FI’s. The small solutions did not bother my parents, yet the large manufacturing line redesigns posed the question about the jobs and labor market in future.
Some forecasted growing number of ”all-lights-out” factories and growing unemployment.
Last year, I visited a factory – a fairly big one – in Poland, to see how they have applied LEAN. What I could see was a long production line, steered with IT software and sensors and literally only 5 people on the floor. These 5 people were not participating in the process! They were fixing a problem with a transportation belt! I could see the picture composed of some people at monitoring consoles, these 5 people fixing the problem and the robotized, automated production line. And all of these people were happy!
So why are people happy and the unemployment is not hitting the sky if we robotize more and more? I came to the conclusion that it is because the market changed and we – the people – changed our jobs. We learned and simply moved to the new activities. Those new ones, which are required in the new industry and market environment. I can see we are moving to the higher value jobs every day, acquire skills and mostly earn more. So why should we not be happy in the long run?!
I believe that current situation of the SSC/BPO transitional services resembles the one of the manufacturing industry 20-30 years ago. We may be afraid, yet we may have no choice and we will end up with happy people moving to the higher value jobs at better salaries. Nightmare, isn’t it? 🙂 What will they be? Most likely about technology, analytics, IT robotics, etc… We will get to design in the place of execution!
In the SSON 2016 report that 51% of us do not recognize the value of RPA in the business process. Don’t we really see it coming or do don’t we want it to come? At the same time whoever I have talked to in the SSC/BPO Sector in Poland in the last 6 months, they all wanted to explore RPA, as if they in fact recognized the arriving impact of automation.
I guess, that indeed, the value or rather applicability itself may still a bit unpredicted – processes are not all in one place, scattered or fragmented. Additionally, often limited standardization and harmonization does not allow for significant straightforward robotics, and yet none of those managers in Poland I talked to, said „I am not interested”.
Are the SSC’s in Poland already that mature? Certainly, they have the in-country climate to be so. I hope they will go for this next step without much hesitation and I am sure they are able to! This shift into the higher value roles and services will certainly support their competitive advantage, as well as the advantage of Poland.
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