Monthly Archives: Mar 2018

Automation delivers the means, OneOffice provides the end

March 21, 2018 | Phil Fersht

The biggest issue with most companies, when it comes to planning their operations, is that most do not have an ideal endstate in mind. They struggle to define success beyond finding some shiny new activity that will get them from where they are today to a state of greater productivity and/or lower operating cost.  However, our new research with 100 C Suite execs reveals that their real goals are to get better data to drive their businesses forward while aligning their operations to their business goals.  Technology solutions are enablers to achieve these goals, they provide a means, but they do not provide the outcome, which is where so many enterprises are going wrong these days.  

Without a defined OneOffice endstate, automation strategies will always run out of steam

Even with offshore outsourcing, the endstate was rarely defined – it was simply to meet the next set of metrics before figuring out the “what’s next”. Were companies really envisaging running their operations in a similar way as before, merely with lower cost resources and some standardization of processes? But at least outsourcing was relatively predictable – it was defining how much work to move to the service provider and how many staff were needed to keep the operation ticking along to meet a desired set of metrics. With automation, entirely new metrics are in play, and it’s currently a random crapshoot how most companies are dealing with this. From manhours per year eliminated, to processing time reductions, to actual headcounts being removed, and even improvements in compliance and data accuracy, the "new metrics" that enterprises are toying with to find that next piece of "success" are becoming foggier than

Read More »

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeRobotic Process Automation

2

1 Comments

The top 5 enterprise blockchain platforms you need to know about

March 16, 2018 | Phil Fersht

Now most of you have finally realized that blockchain means something more than some weird disruptive currency you completely avoided buying when it could have netted you millions, we need to get much more familiar with the actual enterprise platforms being developed, where the true potential of this ledger technology can be unleashed on our enterprises, supply chains and industries.

So we asked our blockchain boffins Saurabh Gupta and Mayank Madhur to take a deeper look at the top 5, namely: Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, R3 Corda, Ripple, and Quorum. Please note that Bitcoin does not make it to our list of top 5 platforms. In fact, it does not make the top 10 list when we talk about enterprise application of Blockchain. 

The objective of our research is to understand blockchain platforms that show promise in solving complex business problems:

Click to Enlarge

#1. Ethereum. Mature Smart Contracting Cross-Industry Platform

“Ethereum is a platform that makes it possible for any developer to write and distribute next-generation decentralized applications.”

-          Vitalik Buterin, Co-Founder, Ethereum

Founded by the 22 year old Russian-Canadian Vitalk Buterin, Ethereum is one of the most mature blockchain platforms available today. Known for its robust smart contracting functionality and flexibility, it is used widely across multiple industry use-cases. It has the largest number of use-cases available today (50%+ in our sample set). Along with Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum has developed a large online support community as well has frequent product updates and enhancements.

The Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA), a non-profit organization is now over 250+ members strong and connects Fortune 500 enterprises, startups, academics, and technology vendors with Ethereum subject matter experts. Despite its widespread adoption in enterprise use-cases, it’s important to realize that Ethereum is essentially a permissionless (or public) platform that is designed for mass consumption versus restricted access (typical requirement for privacy requirements in enterprise use-cases). It is also PoW (proof-of-work) based which is not the fastest (resulting in potential latency issues) and is an energy-sucker. Though it might change its consensus algorithm to the fast PoS (proof-of-stake) in future versions.

#2. Hyperledger Fabric. B2B-focused Modular Blockchain Platform

“As new technology develops, there is a call for standards. Participants want to focus on time and effort and investment to build solutions versus worrying about the framework. This is the rationale for open standards…we are pulling together the most exciting portfolio with a multi-

Read More »

Posted in: Blockchain

1

1 Comments

Farewell the Godfather of Time...

March 14, 2018 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: Cognitive Computing

0

0 Comments

RPA is officially the shiny new silver bullet: 53% of the Global 2000 are planning significant RPA investments to slash costs in 2018

March 11, 2018 | Phil Fersht

While we were discussing the confusing realities of the RPA hype at the HfS FORA Summit, we got a sneak preview of the interim data from the 2018 State of Operations and Outsourcing Study, conducted in conjunction with KPMG, where 250 interviews with Global 2000 operations leaders have now been completed. 

We asked them where their investment priorities were currently lying when it comes to 2018 cost reduction:

Click to Enlarge

So it's abundantly clear all the hype about rampant adoption has been warranted, and we can hang our hats on our recent enterprise robotics software and services forecast, which now appears conservative, increasing with 47% growth to $1.46bn this year (click here for full forecast):

The Bottom-line: RPA has succeeded in being positioned as the "easiest silver bullet to target that next wave of cost take-out".  Now let the real fun and games begin...

We have discussed, argued and deliberated the true value, impact and effective ways to run RPA software for many, many hours here on HfS... for over five and a half years.  And you only need to read our recent work to conclude that "RPA often starts out like a teenage romance, with a lot of enthusiastic fumbling around that ends quickly, frequently leading to disappointment".  And you can also read the RPA Bible, which preaches best and worst RPA practices to such an extent, you'll need to visit your local RPA Rabbi, Bhikkhu, Priest or Mullah to find your soul again.

The real issue, here, is that the majority of enterprises are taking the plunge and investing the dollars, with 81% actually taking RPA seriously, and 53% very seriously.  So what's going to happen in a few months when those ambitious CIOs and CFOs ask to see real, tangible demonstrations of the resultant cost takeout?  Can C-Suite leaders quickly learn to love metrics that are tied to growth, value and effectiveness, as opposed to a simple reduction in operating expenses to feel rewarded for those expensive bot licenses? Are operations leaders generally going to be ready to quantify the value effectively?  Can they really convince their superiors that there is true value impact beyond merely offering up headcount elimination? 

What's more, what if headcount reductions were promised to offset investments, and adopters have failed to free up the workload that can enable them?  And can they reward the staff, who cooperated in the automation work, by getting them "retrained"?  Is there really a plan?  While the "one human to oversee every 10 bots" is becoming the latest robo-governance rule-of-thumb, how real is this?  Or are we just all bull*****g ourselves about the future, and merely circling the hype to stay relevant today?  Do we really care about our companies anymore, or are we more obsessed with adding big sexy initiatives to our CVs?  Is this really anything different to yesteryear, where you needed to have an SAP rollout on your CV to be a credible CIO, or oversaw a 1000 FTE outsourcing deal to prove you were worth that $1.2m/ year GBS salary (yes, that's what some get...).  In this world of #fakenews, does anything really matter anymore, when we can spin our realities into whatever shiny new thing is out there?  

One thing is clear is that the back office needs to be submerged into the value end of the organization.  There is little more headcount elimination to be had for most companies - sure, there are still many areas that have too many people working on too few valuable tasks, and technologies like RPA are terrific tools for breathing new life into legacy systems and creating digital process flows, where before there was only spaghetti code, manual workarounds and swamps of data polluting the corporate underbelly.

One thing is clear, it's very murky out there, and all we can really do is hatch a semi-realistic plan and try and stay on top of it as the future unravels in front of us...

Posted in: Robotic Process Automation

23

1 Comments

Findings from #HfSFORA: Half of firms' staff will be impacted by automation and 40% of them have no idea what to do with them

March 07, 2018 | Phil Fersht

So here's the biggest issue facing enterprise operations in the next couple of years:  what to do with staff impacted by automation.  Our brand new 2018 State of Operations study, conducted with KPMG, over half the Global 2000 firms surveyed believe transactional roles will be significantly impacted by automation within just a two-year timeframe:

So we thought we'd poll the 120 buyers at the new York FORA summit this morning as we asked them what they intended to do with their impacted staff:

While a good portion are already thinking about "retraining" their impacted staff to take on analytics work (21%) and help manage new tech such as RPA and ML (16%), the vast majority (40%) are just honest and reveal they just don't know.  

Bottom-line:  We have to plan for automation better

As automation fever takes over business operations (and we'll reveal that data next), my one plea to industry is to plan this better.  CFOs and CIOs investing $ millions in bot licenses and consultants to implement them will be expecting a return on their investment, and if operations leaders do not have a concerted plan to use the freed up man hours, you can be sure there will be intense pressure to reduce even more heads than may have been in the initial plan.

Posted in: Robotic Process Automation

1

1 Comments

Meet the Business Romantic: Tim Leberecht

March 01, 2018 | Phil Fersht

Have you ever mixed business with romance?  Oh dear, that could be taken the wrong way, but our keynote speaker next week at the HfS FORA summit New York, Tim Leberecht, has literally written the book on the subject.  Tim's session next week is one that will breathe new energy into our narrative, and the title "How to Thrive in the Robotic Age Without Losing Your Humanity" just about says it all!

So let's hear a bit more from Tim about why he's such a sought-after speaker and visionary on the future of work and the impact of AI...

Phil Fersht (CEO, HfS): Tim, we're very excited to have you as one of our keynotes in New York.  So maybe you can give us some insight into how you have become a "Business Romantic.”

Tim Leberecht (Founder of The Business Romantic Society): Education-wise, my background is in the humanities and professionally, in marketing. Initially, I set out to write a book about meaning, and specifically the power of brands to serve as one of the few remaining arbiters of meaning in our societies. As I was looking into the principles of meaning-making, I realized that they were all, in effect, romantic principles: keep the mystique, foster intimacy, embrace solitude, seek adventure, suffer (a little), and so on. I had this epiphany: “Wow, I am a romantic!” In fact, I realized that romance had been the defining quality of my career—I just hadn’t been able to articulate it. The term “Business Romantic” nailed the tension I had felt all my professional life, and since the book came out in 2015, it has proven to be provocative and fruitful. Opposites attract, or as one of the interviewees for my book said: juxtaposing opposite poles make each of the poles more attractive. I haven’t met anybody yet who hasn’t had a strong reaction to the word “romance:” people either oppose it or aspire to it.

Phil: So the theme of the conference is "Learning to Change in the robotic era"... what's your view on how we humans must adapt with all the technological change occurring? Is it more about attitudes that skillsets?  

Tim: It’s both, Phil. There are some grim reports out there, such as Bain’s recent study that predicts 30 percent of all US jobs will be automated by 2030, with the rewards of automation going mostly to the top 20 percent of earners or savvy AI investors. McKinsey estimates that 30 percent of 60 percent of all tasks in existing jobs can already be automated. Futurist Gerd Leonhard proclaims that “if you can describe your job in one sentence, chances are you might get automated,” referring to the high likelihood of process-oriented, linear, routine-based work being automated.

Entire professions will feel the consequences: not only factory workers or call-center agents but also legal research assistants, accountants, notaries, investment managers, or management consultants. While exact estimates are still disputed, clearly, massive changes to work and society are underway, and we are just beginning to grasp them. AI will dramatically alter both process and offerings in almost every industry. Every profession will have to evolve and embed AI and robotics in their processes.  AI and co-bots will become our new co-workers, and those parts of our work that can be done more efficiently will be taken over by them. Many of us will lose traditional employment, the rest of us will have to get used to hybrid work environments and collaborating with AI (and perhaps even having AI’s as bosses).

We’re definitely in a race with the machines, and it’s not one we can win unless we remind ourselves of our inherently human qualities that AI isn’t able to emulate yet: vulnerability, imagination, and character. We are elusive, inconsistent, elastic, and often erratic beings—we remain unpredictable and can change our beliefs and emotions. That makes us hard to deal with but also constitutes the very engine of progress. It’s not technology, it is our changing hearts and minds, our ever-evolving values, that is the source of innovation.

We will need to acquire not only new technical skills, but also new emotional ones, as we’ll be facing an increasing loss of control, of agency in the traditional sense. Deloitte says that 63 percent of businesses need leadership skill development for the digital future, and that many of these skills are “soft skills.” Our identities and interactions will become more fluid, as boundaries between man and machine, internal and external reality, digital and physical world continue to blur. To thrive in this age of machines, we will have to learn (again) to appreciate beautiful work and how to our work beautifully—with heart, character, and intuition. This what romanticism can teach us.

Phil: And what's your view of this "singularity"?  Is it real, Tim, or just hype?  What is the real pace of change and disruption, as you see it?

Read More »

Posted in: Analytics and Big DataCognitive Computing

0

0 Comments