As India is poised to become the automation capital of the world, large enterprises have started experimenting with the power of bots, also known as Robotic Processing Automation (RPA), to automate mundane business processes. But can RPA become a catalyst for the work culture of the organisation, is something most organisations are yet to ascertain
India is witnessing an automation wave. There is a potential for India to become the global hub of business automation with the help of digital and human workforces, which are running data-driven operations for companies across the globe. India has an upper hand over other regions because of its history of operational excellence, experience in scaling and a large workforce. Businesses are increasing their human workforce with digital emphasis, which is driven by the growing prevalence of millennials in the labour force and the reality of a rapidly aging workforce. There is a significant percentage of global outsourcing industry and global in-house centres, with decades of process knowledge and an agile workforce. This combination provides a plethora of opportunities to RPA players. However, the fundamental challenge before any company is to drive this fundamental shift.
Today, the global RPA market has emerged as a US$ 100 billion opportunity, according to equity research firm KeyBanc Capital Markets. Gartner further estimates that by the end of next year, 40 per cent of large enterprises will have deployed RPA software, up from less than 10 per cent today.
Suman Reddy, MD, Pegasystems India, says, “India’s opportunity lies in unlocking the value of RPA for better productivity, and freeing up more resource for teams to focus on complex business challenges, not mundane, rule-based reporting or data entry tasks. The challenge is, RPA is just a temporary fix. They allow incremental savings in cost and faster turn-around time for generating reports or in customer responses. However, over time, bots are bound to break as organisations do not implement them in context with outcomes, or connect them to the larger architecture between processes, systems, and applications.”
Impact on workforce culture
The early 2000s saw the dawn of Global Capability Centers in India with a manpower-based model. However, with evolving markets, the global process volume has also increased. RPA aids these centres to enhance their delivery capabilities. Automation is poised to hit the mainstream, but many businesses are still experimenting. It is expected that companies will scale up to enterprise-level implementation of their RPA journey. The challenge to scale automation or AI across an organisation may not be difficult, but it’s more of how the organisation as a culture will adapt to such a change. With jobs being supported by automation, the culture of the organisation will need to change.
Employers will need to start thinking now about implications for hiring, reskilling, upskilling, lifelong learning, and reorganising. Concerns in this area stem largely from a growing disconnect between the types of skills workers currently maintain. They will need broader and more empathic skills in order to flourish in the coming years. Nevertheless, there is a strong demand for employees skilled in RPA for automation management, analytics, AI, cloud services and cybersecurity. The average salary of a professional skilled in RPA is 30 per cent higher than salaries for general programmers and software engineers, according to a study.
One of the RPA evangelists, Automation Anywhere, looks to make India the global leader in automation, as Automation Anywhere is focused on helping customers in navigating the RPA shifts and ensuring customers are able to thrive the same.
Speaking about the market opportunities, Milan Sheth, Executive Vice President, IMEA, Automation Anywhere, says, “We are witnessing a huge demand from our customers for RPA. Businesses today are increasingly augmenting their human workforce with a digital one. While early automation implementations are focused on cost, in 2019, automation will achieve multiple goals: driving both customer and employee experience; changing the nature of work; and even empowering the next generation of startup companies — tech and non-tech alike — that will employ digital labour from the get-go.”
Sheth also points out, “Automation and, especially AI, comes with a unique set of trust issues; not only is the technology new, but it promises to disrupt nearly every existing industry. Many companies claim to be using RPA or AI in some capacity. This hype cycle can lead to over-exaggerated marketing claims and overpromised development results, a phenomenon currently referred to as ‘AI washing’. The issue is to promote authentic engagement and motivation across an organisation by building real and valuable relationships and not overpromising to customers or employees.”
Another leading RPA player, UiPath believes that automation is the future of work — the companies that think automation-first adapt, thrive, and win while global productivity drastically increases. Raghunath Subramanian, President and CEO – India, UiPath says, “We are at the beginning of the RPA revolution where several emerging technologies like AI and machine learning will converge to drive innovation and agility. With RPA not confined to a single vertical or industry, we find use cases across all industry verticals and business horizontals. On the flip side, this unprecedented market growth also poses a challenge as we need to keep pace with the rapid product evolution process and ensure the availability of an RPA talent pool.”
Early movers to RPA
With the boom in the RPA industry, a new genre of jobs has been created. The need for trained developers in RPA and AI has increased immensely due to rapid adoption of RPA across industries. RPA is developing as a true horizontal phenomenon for every industry. There has been significant adoption of RPA solutions by GICs, financial institutions, telecom service providers, technology and manufacturing companies. Players like Automation Anywhere have met as many as 500 clients in the last three months, most of which are from the technology side.
“Companies like ANZ Global Hubs and Adani Group have started implementing RPA, as they have the objective to bring next wave of efficiency, controls, and speed of execution. The intention for organisations is to create in-house, scalable and agile Centre of Excellence (CoE), which not only caters to the finance function, but also other domains like HR, admin, procurement, stores, MDM, marketing and other corporate functions. We have seen unprecedented ecosystem growth in the first quarter of 2019, with more than 2,800 customer entities and 1,600 enterprise brands using the company’s intelligent RPA platform. This growth reinforces the company’s position as the industry’s most widely deployed, enterprise-grade RPA solution,” informs Sheth.
Reddy at Pegasystems India says, “We recommend companies to identify their most critical tasks that would benefit from RPA and begin transforming processes gradually. This is resulting in a lot of traction because it helps companies get started on digital transformation and remain competitive without overhauling their entire IT system. However, to be truly digital from end-to-end over time, they should look at Digital Process Automation (DPA). RPA gives them a head-start to make quick fixes while they implement ways for more permanent fixes through long-term measures like DPA. Customers like the Government of Andhra Pradesh are leveraging the power of DPA, while firms in other industries are realising the benefits of long-term process fixes, as opposed to short-term fixes that are prone to break and derail their digital transformation efforts.”
Peter Gartenberg, Managing Director and President, Indian subcontinent, Blue Prism, mentions that Blue Prism’s Connected RPA is being deployed across thousands of processes in every vertical sector. “More recently, organisations are leveraging Blue Prism’s deep AI expertise and ‘connected’ ecosystem to automate or completely reimagine their processes to deliver far superior customer experiences and business process execution (e.g. rapid loan processing, client onboarding, 24/7 self-service, KYC, etc).”
RPA to redefine new jobs
Given automation is intrinsic to RPA, there is concern about potential job losses, especially in areas and processes involving lower-end tasks. This is where RPA providers and the industry can play a leadership role in providing the right guidance as the industry evolves. Industry players feel RPA can create new job opportunities in the range of 290,000 to 320,000 over the next two-three years. With the advent of technology, middle-skill jobs such as clerical workers and machine operators decline while both high-skill and low-skill roles increase. There is a positive correlation between new technology and jobs in all sectors. In fact, technology ensures that human potential is used to the fullest. Especially for India, wherein if process offshoring industry automates more, it will be on the forefront of defining the jobs of the future – rather than just doing the jobs outsourced by nations in a much cheaper, faster and efficient way.
“India is moving from a processing hub to an innovation capital. We can see this with the growth of GICs in our country. In such a scenario, RPA will, in turn, enable millions of people to focus on jobs that are truly innovative and creative. In addition, India is also emerging as the automation capital of the world, leveraging the power of bots to automate mundane business processes and at the same time liberating human beings from it to take on more intellectual work,” Sheth explains.
Gartenberg adds, “While there will certainly be some replacement of current tasks or jobs, in many cases we are seeing Blue Prism being utilized to transform/reimagine processes to create entirely new capabilities and customer experiences. Much of these Blue Prism driven transformations are not necessarily replacing people, but rather providing a service or process throughput that was not available previously.”
Driving new RPA initiatives
Most RPA players are having a mix of direct and indirect GTM and working aggressively to build a strong channel network as well as R&D capabilities. There is a significant gap between the demand for RPA experts and the supply. Companies are trying out different strategies to narrow it. In the case of UiPath, right now, the company has 60 people in product development team at the Indian R&D centre, and aims to increase this number by at least four times in the next two-three years.
“We are constantly working towards the development of the RPA ecosystem by educating and upskilling the talent pool and creating awareness around RPA. We would be setting up an automation factory for global delivery and an Automation Immersion Lab to showcase the latest advances in our product capabilities,” says Subramanian. The company has numerous tie-ups with educational institutions to incorporate RPA in the curriculum. Its channel partners provide in-house training to customers to give them a better understanding of the technology.
Automation Anywhere prefers the channel to work with partners and deliver Digital Workforce Platform as a complete solution. It has partners across categories including all the big five professional services firms, all the top five IT services and consulting firms and hundreds of value-added resellers through its distribution partner, Tech Data.
“We also offer our solution online to customers through our bot-store, where our customers can download pre-configured bots by role and function. Most of these bots in the bot-store are developed by our partners. We are looking to sign more partners across industries and regions as we scale our business in India. We plan to hire over 300 new engineering and operations experts in India this year, to support the growing demand. We are also opening offices in Delhi, Pune and Hyderabad. We have three engineering centres in India (two in Bengaluru and one in Baroda). The Baroda centre is also the customer success centre where we work closely with the clients to better understand their needs,” Sheth adds.
Similarly for Pegasystems, India forms a critical arm of growth strategy, as most of its globally-recognised products are built from here. “We work on niche solutions from our India centres, to serve industries growing in complexity and increasing customer expectations. We leverage the latest technologies like NLP, predictive analytics and robotics through our 1600 strong developer workforce in India,” states Reddy of Pegasystems.
RPA is emerging as the most affordable and flexible option for organisations to position themselves for long-term success. As RPA continues to bloom, India is in a fantastic position to emerge a front-runner in the establishment of the industry and benefit greatly from