Every organisation has two primary assets says Daniel Pullen, Chief Automation Officer, CiGen – the skills they apply to their chosen market and the time they can give to deploying those skills.
Australian based CiGen ais robotic process automation (RPA) specialist, a nice place to be given the popularity of the sector.
The huge acceleration in digital transformation projects – often underpinned by a large component of automation has put the sector in the hot seat. And investors have flooded in. Uipath surged in Value to $US36 billion on the first day its stocks traded publicly a few weeks ago, having privately raised $750M in February from provite investors. 10 months ago rival Blue Prism raised $124M at a valuation of $1.2B. In 2019 Automation Anywhere raised $290M at a valuation of $6.8 Billion.
Speaking on the day Uipath listed, Abhi Arun, Managing Partner at Alkeon Capital said, “Automation has become a strategic imperative that is fundamentally changing the way organisations operate. We are excited to co-lead this round of funding, as well as continue to team up with the UiPath team during an important phase for the company.”
According to Pullen, “Organisations can invest in learning and upskilling but they can’t buy more time to better service their customers. However, they can create more time, through operating more efficiently. And that extra time can be invested into serving more customers, adding new services, developing new products and freeing up to be more innovative.”
He said every organisation has an undertow of repetitive tasks that suck time out of the day, especially in the areas of HR and payroll, sales, finance and operations. For the accounts team, that might be regular bank reconciliations. In another organisation, it might be the daily extraction of new data from a website that it adds to a spreadsheet and uses to produce a daily report. Or it may simply be the transposition of data from one system into another where the two don’t share a common database.
“Typically, these tasks are dull, repetitive and seldom change. Tasks like this are ideal candidates for automation. Instead of a manual task taking hours, time can be drastically reduced and errors minimised,” he says.
Pullen argues that automation empowers organisations to free up staff time spent on repetitive and mundane office tasks and enables teams to focus on higher value work, collaboration, creativity, problem solving and innovation.
“Instead of spending time gathering data from the stock market and populating a spreadsheet, robotic process automation (RPA) uses software to collect that data, enter it into a spreadsheet and update a report. Then the team can analyse the report and spend more time extracting insights that can be leveraged to make better business decisions.”
The theory is that RPA will unlock the power of speed and human potential for higher value and more complex thinking that machines are unable to replicate.
“When you look at your organisation, what is it that you wish you had more time to do nor think about? The one asset you thought you could never buy is time. But automation is the currency that lets you buy it. Instead of spending three hours collating data and generating a report, what other higher value tasks could you instead devote more time to focus on?”
He offers the rise of Google as an example of liberating creativity.
“Most of the innovative products created by Google were not made by committees brainstorming ideas on whiteboards as part of an organised workshop. They came by investing time. For many years, Google had a “20% time” policy that allowed workers to spend 20% of their time working on passion projects that would benefit Google. The company invested time into its future.”
However for most organisations giving employees that amount of time would be a luxury, and currently unachievable.
Indeed Google, itself all but abandoned the philosophy some years ago.
“But, says Pullen, “Through automation, people can buy back time so they can focus on higher-level work, deeper analysis and strategic planning rather than expending energy on tasks that are dull and repetitive.”