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Is RPA the New Offshoring?

By RG Conlee

RG Conlee, chief innovation officer for Xerox Services
“Robotic process automation is the enabler that will … change the way [the world does] business.” – RG Conlee, chief innovation officer 
It is futile to resist change. Yet, most of us grudgingly accept any modification to what we perceive as the norm.  Whether it is an adjustment to our schedules like daylight saving time, or an alteration to something that we learned as children, such as Pluto no longer being called a planet.  Change is the one true constant in our lives, as it allows us to transform and grow.

The way we do business is no different. The goals of higher profit margins and lower costs are the constant, and we are always working to improve the methods in which we do so.  We have seen this in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry as more and more clients used the labor forces in other countries.  The reason was simple:  The people skills and availability met the demands of the work, and the attractiveness of lower wages met the needs of the shareholders.  It has been a successful business model for many.

So why change it?

According to the A. T. Kearney 2016 Global Services Location Index, six of the top ten countries for BPO offshoring are in the Asia Pacific region. India holds the No. 1 spot, with China and Malaysia coming in second and third respectively.  The index highlights emerging trends as well, most notably robotic process automation (RPA).  Their studies showed that RPA is three times faster than humans, with no errors and no absenteeism.

As the labor force in these countries dwindle due to saturation, business owners began to search for new ways to lower costs and increase profit. The search for change continues.  I believe, as shown in A. T. Kearny’s study, that robotic process automation is the enabler that will transform how the BPO industry moves forward, and change the way business is done.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Robotic process automation opens up opportunities, redesign processes and transform how service gets delivered. The RPA software ‘bots are faster, more efficient, reliable and more accurate than their human counterparts.  A process that takes 35 full-time employees all day to accomplish, now can be completed by a few well-trained ‘bots in less than half the time.  As a result, RPA can produce savings of 50 percent in select back office processes.

The ‘bots are revolutionary, yet simple. They need no additional coding or scripting, they’re easy to configure by the business user, and can be implemented in weeks with little ongoing support.  No more long training sessions and low customer satisfaction during ramp up times.  You tell the ‘bots what to do and they do it. Correctly. Every time.

They also reduce risk and are non-invasive. You no longer have to worry about sustainability, security and disaster recovery.  The RPA ‘bots work behind the scenes, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Get ready for true transformation. As more businesses begin to use robotic process automation for their more repetitive, mundane tasks, we will see an increase in productivity from the human workforce as well.  Free to focus on the more enjoyable tasks, better suited for people, attrition rates will lower and customer satisfaction will rise.

Is RPA the new offshoring? Only time will tell, but I think that the need for change has come, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.