As Robotic Process Automation is taking the global enterprise landscape by storm, Automation Anywhere, one of the largest RPA players in the world, is setting an example of how software bots and humans can collaborate to create a perfect digital workforce. In an exclusive interaction, Ankur Kothari, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer reveals more about the company’s interesting journey so far, the RPA impact and why it could be as big as the first industrial revolution.
Can you tell us more about journey of Automation Anywhere?
Many of the times it is not possible to fully automate anything. More than 80% of the times, it is not economically viable to automate. To witness this problem, we thought why not create a product which interacts with the software, just as one would do manually. This is when we decided to commence, Automation Anywhere, which would help businesses to automate functions which otherwise require physical involvement of employees. We are here to create interactive software enabled to take algorithmic decisions and validations and plan to come up with innovative ideas to automate tasks which will reduce the time by one-tenth. So, something that would usually take six months would then take three weeks. Automation Anywhere started its journey with this exact idea in mind.
The whole approach has evolved into a large digital workforce strategy where we have three different platforms; RPA, cognitive platform, and real-time content analytics. When we take these three things together, it forms the perfect digital workforce. That’s how our strategy evolved three years ago, but now we are on this mission of having digital workforce of around three million by 2020.If we do that, we will be the largest employer.
How do the three technologies- RPA, cognitive and content analytics work together?
The three imperative platforms are very closely connected. RPA allows you to automate all the rule-based tasks like back office and operations work. But, there are some processes that can be better solved with cognitive technologies. For example, if you are a large logistics provider, you have hundreds and thousands of vendors, they all send invoices in their own format, if you have to take those invoice data and plug it into the system, there are three options, one is you find the people to do that. Second, for every one of these you create a robot, which is again time-consuming. That’s the perfect example of something you can solve through cognitive technology, which enables you to train bots to read an invoice like a person. So, the goal is to solve the problem in least amount of time.
How do you bring value? Perform tasks with least time and resources,and get valuable business insights.
Practically, how do robots and humans work together? Can you explain a bit?
There are some processes that you can completely automate end to end. There are some processes that require human intervention because of regulatory or compliance or different reasons. In that case, what happens is that you take that process, divide it into certain steps, some of it is done by humans whereas rest is passed on to the bots, almost the same way as we work alongside colleagues.
The value is that, with bots you can do so much more, your process time goes down and productivity is much higher. Also with people and bots working together, humans are empowered to do much more. When you combine both aspects, it really takes the whole business productivity to a whole new level.
What is the impact of RPA on new age workforce? Can you share some insights?
It is tremendous. Almost every company can get 10-20% of the work automated. There is no excuse to do those things manually when it’s cheaper and faster to automate. Everything that can be automated will eventually be automated in the years to come. For banks, 10-15% of their work can be automated now, but atleast 30-40% of the work can be done by digital workforce.
Take the case of a Telco, it has automateda lot of their back-office processes and now are able to handle more operations and data with less amount of people. The automation decision has indeed resulted changes in their operating margins and business variability. It effectively allows them to focus so much more on strategic business areas. These are the dynamics that are playing out. We expect that the impact would be similar to that of the first industrial revolution. For working people, the need to go up the value chain will be tremendous.
If you connect this to job losses, I would completely disagree. Rather, what it would do is it will enhance job profiles.We are partners with all the major service providers in the world, 24 out of 35 top service providers, including the big four advisory firms; Accenture, Genpact and more. We work with some of the largest banks, financeand insurance companies worldwide along with some of the largest telcos. Manufacturing is another industry adopting automation at a large scale. It is impossible to live through a day without getting affected by RPA.
How do you see the organization evolve in the near future? What is the game plan?
We are on the digital workforce journey, the combination of doing, thinking and analyzing, that allows you to create perfect digital workforce which can truly automate anything. We are investing a lot on technology to create enterprise grade infrastructure. Enhancing the combined value from RPA and cognitive analytics will be a key focus.
From a market perspective, there is a lot of delivery capability we are building for our service providing partners. Also, enabling organizations to move up the value chain will be core to our game plan.