Operating Models Must Evolve To Address RPA Gaps

The search for “quick” solutions to fragmented business applications has pushed RPA investment. I've taken over 200 inquiries on RPA in the past six months and attended Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere, NICE, and other vendor conferences and spoken to their customers. About half the enterprises I have talked with are just starting out either in vendor review or staging early POCs, with the other half in production and looking for the next process to robotize. I’d estimate only about 10% are in any form of large-scale opertations, and most have tackled simple processes that I define as fewer than 200 human clicks replaced by a bot that accesses fewer than three applications.

But things are moving quickly.  RPA tools are relatively cheap, and they work fast. There is no requirements document. You can download free RPA software and develop a bot in a few days. And who needs a business case when projects can be self-funded from productivity gains? Yet I’m sensing that early enthusiasm has led to tapping the brakes. Here’s why.

Stakeholders are not properly aligned to the emerging digital workforce. Yes, it might take only a month to build a digital worker, but it will take six times that long to get management and other stakeholders on board. In most organizations, the number of people working for a person is a measure of importance. So when you tell them you will replace humans with digital workers, they are threatened. Tech management also has a long list of objections and may resist small changes to legacy systems that make bots work better.  Senior technical leadership is often not on board. And that’s just for starters.

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RPA and the Future of Work: Dystopian Views

In the past several months, I’ve given 10 talks on robotic process automation (RPA), its relationship to AI, and its future effect on jobs. These talks were mostly at tech conferences where the audience is a mix of corporate and government technology and business leaders. The industries represented are diverse, as is the process focus and expertise. But the participants are similar in important ways. They are excited, if not well-informed, about the potential of AI and robotics; the average IQ in the room seems well above average; and they all will benefit either professionally or financially from the progression of robotics.

No shame in making money; I wish I’d made more. But there is more then a hint of nervous discomfort just below the surface that stems from the removal of humans from the workforce. There are many cute references to taking the robot out of the human; this is supposed to mean that we are using humans essentially as robots, and the less we do that, the better off they will be. But the fact is that many workers today are good at routine tasks, feel productive, and may lack the mental quickness for other work. Several firms have given human names to their new digital workers, as if calling them Yoda or Jennifer will make them more accepted by the people they are replacing.

RPA Targets The Cubicle Working Class

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Confusion And Vendor Adolescence Stalls AI Innovation In Financial Services

 

AI is a hot topic in financial services. And its easy to see why. Increasing margins on transactions, decimated by compliance costs and low interest rates, reaching new market segments, and automating routine tasks, makes AI innovation attractive. And in one sense, FinServ has always been about algorithmic innovation. There is no higher potential ROI than beating the market. Advanced analytics for program trading have been banging away at this goal for decades, with a rich base of advances.

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Is IBM Watson WorkSpace The Answer To Our Digital Disorder?

Bouncing among cognitive sessions and weaving though the crowds, it’s not clear what hurts the most, my feet or my brain.  How much of this are we to believe? What is actually deployable, affordable, and usable by mere humans, and when?  The cognitive exuberance at World of Watson (WOW) was certainly exhausting and even by tech conference standards, overplayed.  IBM, it’s partners, and tech analysts were much better at painting the future vision then how to break that vision into an actionable sequence of steps to be followed.

And that’s one reason, IBM’s announcement of a new collaboration product, IBM Watson Workspace, got my attention.  In short, it seems a practical solution to a really bad problem, our Digital Disorder. Not to sound Trump-esk, but our daily digital lives are quickly becoming a disaster. Workspace is a group messaging tool that uses Watson to help and is now available as a “pre-view “version, basically for folks to play with. While release plans are not totally baked, rumblings are that IBM will release it on a Fremium  basis- taking a page from fast moving startups. 

Does Workspace have a chance? It does and here’s why. Expertise routing, recommendations, and personal assistance are the new battleground for collaboration. Let’s call it people analytics.  It is the last and most important mile of a less then sterling collaboration journey.  Or to put it another way, cognitive may be the last hope to relieve the Digital Disorder we have created. .

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Top Reasons The OpenText Acquisition Of EMC’s ECD Will End Up As A Positive For Customers

 

EMC purchased Documentum in 2003 for $1.7 billion, a very high price tag at the time, and did not grow the core business. Today, the Enterprise Content Division (ECD) business unit consists of Documentum, next-generation content platform Project Horizon, and the archiving solution EMC InfoArchive. Core Documentum products include the Documentum platform, xCP and D2, midmarket ECM solution ApplicationXtender, Captiva, and Document Sciences xPression; additional products include Kazeon, MyDocumentum, and eRoom. A mix of aging and newer and aging technology but lots of customers, which is what OpenText seems intent on accumulating.

A Fresh Focus On Documentum Is Overdue

Documentum products received good ratings in five Forrester Wave evaluations, yet never realized their market potential under EMC. Their future with Dell only looked bleaker. OpenText acquisition gives hope.

A Spinoff Was The Best Hope

EMC is set to become a private company as funding for the deal comes from Michael Dell, private equity firm MSD Partners, and investment firm Silver Lake. As we said in November of 2015, Documentum will only prosper if it's spun into a separate, agile, and more strategically aligned entity. And with OpenText it has.

Customers Should Stay The Course, At Least Through 2017

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Pega Buys OpenSpan: Watch Out - RPA Vendor Landscape Is About To Change

Enterprises, in their quest to reduce labor costs, are applying RPA technologies. Yet they do not have a well-defined set of principles and best practices, including how to position RPA with other process tools and initatives. Today it may have become a bit more clear. Pega is the first tech provider, and only BPM market particpant of substance, to purchase an RPA provider (OpenSpan). The combination brings robotics, analytics, and case management together - and that makes sense. Think of Pega's process/rules capibility firing off a set of RPA scripts.

RPA in many respects is an alternative, some would say the polar opposite of Pega's current business model that feasts on the transformitive "big IT spend" for BPM, case management, automation, and customer service projects. RPA does not require invasive integration. It is a quick hit for automation, a “low touch” approach for process improvement for brittle legacy systems. The bottom line. Enterprises that employ labor on a large scale for process work can gain efficiencies by just automating repetitive human tasks for the “as is” process.

OpenSpan is nice pick-up for Pega that will help with back-office BPM work, but more so with contact center environments where the agent requires human and machine multitasking that often spans multiple windows and web applications, few of which are integrated with each other. Cumbersome process flows, rekeying of data, and lack of integration add up to lengthy call times, reduced accuracy, and an overall increase in customer frustration. Pega/OpenSpan will give Jacada and NICE a run for their money, and the future integration with Pega's analytics tracks where the RPA space is heading.

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Seven New Buying Patterns Reshape The 2017 Enterprise Collaboration Market

The enterprise collaboration (EC) landscape is rife with innovative products that begin with a narrow feature set (e.g., Box for document collaboration or Slack for group messaging). Viral growth and company value often follow — along with competitors that target the newly identified market. A fragmented and overlapping landscape results as newer entrants pursue broader EC goals. Over the next two years, firms will purchase enterprise collaboration in seven fundamentally different ways. The report below aims to helps companies sift through confusing use cases to best apply EC.

What did we find? Firstly, the torrent of information, lack of critical-mass adoption, and context switching create barriers to effective EC adoption, and secondly, platforms that support lead applications, targeted group messaging, project management tools, external communities, or just finding expertise in an organization are the winning formulae for many firms.

Read the report here: Seven New Buying Patterns Reshape The 2017 Enterprise Collaboration Market.

The Blind Spot For Man-Machine Collaboration

We are kicking off a research series on the future of work for "production services," with a focus on administrative and customer service jobs where a high degree of automation is projected. Basically, cognitive computing may do to white-collar jobs what robotics did to blue-collar jobs. This may lead to radically different work patterns and unintended consequences. Enterprises risk blindly bringing in advanced analytics without a best practice approach that covers change management and identifies gaps in the formerly human-driven process that affect compliance, customer experience, and efficiency. To date, few are doing serious thinking about a force that will lead to a restructuring of work that is more profound and far-reaching than the transition from the agricultural to the industrial age. 

Please take or send this survey to businesses contemplating or using smart machines to augment human-based processes. They will receive a free copy of the report.

Thank you.

 https://forrester.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_6RI5qO6FJ2S13z7

 

 

 

Nintex To Purchase Drawloop — Enters Emerging CCM Cloud Market

Nintex is expanding into the emerging cloud-based workflow market — by acquiring Drawloop, an Irvine, California-based document generation provider: http://www.nintex.com/company/news-press/news-archive/2015/nintex-acquires-drawloop. Drawloop is one of the top 10 paid apps in the Salesforce AppExchange, with more than 1,000 customers, yet relative to the core customer communications management (CCM) market that has matured in a batch world driven by large-print service-bureau requirements, it is an effective but "light" solution. It gets high marks for usability, where less often means more. And you are fine if all data comes out of Salesforce, but what if you need to combine it with other data from core systems? What if you have 10,000 templates to manage, and what if you need to visualize complex data associations or have large batches of documents to deliver routinely? We will look harder at these questions during the next CCM Forrester Wave™, which will include Drawloop as well as Conga and perhaps other emerging cloud solutions. Overall, this is a strong acquisition that positions Nintex's BPM capability more securely in the Microsoft and Salesforce cloud ecosystems.

Lexmark Acquires Kofax- Becomes A Major Force To Help Companies Digitize Operational Processes

This latest Lexmark move is harder to assess than previous major acquisitions. Give  the Perceptive acquisition an  A, Brainware  a B -,  and Pallas maybe a  C+. The Kofax merger, on the other hand, has two legitimate views and lets start with the positive. Kofax has indeed assembled a range of complimentary components that fit well with Lexmark's market ambition. The key asset of interest is the TotalAgility (KTA) platform and its related components. These enhance Lexmark's process platform that was based on the Pallas, too low a market share and Perceptive’s document-focused workflow. KTA, by contrast,  has a true case platform and is well integrated with the industry-leading capture platform. Kofax has never had been in the ECM space. They are now with one of the strongest. And the list goes on. Brainware will boost forms processing for Kofax' invoice processing customers. The AltoSoft BI tool adds analytics strength that Lexmark did not have. Data integration is improved with Kapow. A top E-Signature product (Softpro) and a growing CCM platform from AiA are all good pickups. These last two fit well with Lexmark’s transitioning MPS business.

The drawback here is that Kofax’s go to market positioning and execution is nowhere near complete, and needs entrepreneurial energy and execution to get there. Perhaps Lexmark can help - but Kofax will now be part of a larger company that has transition issues of its own. Perhaps more importantly, Lexmark may find itself devoting significant investment dollars to purchase a legacy document capture business that has moderate long term value. We estimate around $200m of Kofax’ current business derives from this market with revenue in this area more likely to decline then accelerate. Lexmark would then find itself devoting a lot of management attention to minimizing the impact of that decline.

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