Adoption of robotic process automation to increase significantly

01 February 2019

Robotic Process Automation (RPA/Robotics) is an innovative technology which is applied on an increasingly large scale, and is touted to lead to a revolution in the automation of manual tasks. The emerging technology can – according to First Consulting – bring enormous efficiency advantages which can be realised in a relatively short time frame and with limited resources.

The experts of the management consulting firm see three main use cases for RPA: back-office processes, customer care and front office processes, and as an enabler for artificial intelligence.

An RPA journey generally starts by automating back office processes, such as within HR or finance administration. Many organisations have recently taken these first steps in 2018. However, the true potential of RPA is only fully realised through larger scale implementations. Going forward, robots will  play an ever-greater role in the execution of daily tasks, both by automating back office processes and by supporting employees in their daily work. The goal of automation is not simply to achieve greater cost reductions, but to use human capital in the best possible way. In 2019 this will become even more apparent as the shortage of sufficiently skilled employees continues to rise in proportion to the demand for their skills.

Although the name may suggest otherwise, RPA doesn’t refer to mechanical robots. RPA is a type of software which replicates human actions within digital processes, which is why it is often compared to a virtual employee. RPA uses existing systems and applications, meaning that no high-impact IT adjustments are required for implementation. This allows RPA to be a business-driven initiative.

The vision for 2019: large scale adoption of robots

In the past twelve months a significant number of organisations have acquainted themselves with RPA. Many did so through proof of concepts (to test for technical and business viability), or by automating processes based on a minimum viable product. In the latter case, automating the process’ 'happy path', the main case of the process barring exceptions, was essential. The first phase in the scaling of RPA within an organisation is known as the ‘start-up’ phase.Adoption of robotic process automation to increase significantlyDuring the start-up phase, RPA is typically introduced by automating a back-office process, such as recruitment. Let's take, for example, the case of a telecom organisation which has designed their recruitment process to consist of many repetitive, manual tasks. In this case, employees must manually copy information from applicants’ CVs into the HR system. Other activities include passing the result of a candidate’s interview process to financial support and contacting the relevant business team for onboarding. This example process is 90% automatable. The main benefit of this automation is that the recruitment team can now focus on their core tasks (e.g. dedicating more time to the recruitment and selection of candidates) along with meeting and getting to know them. Within organisations, there are many more such examples.

Following the initial Start-up phase, organisations enter the ‘Structure’ phase. This phase is not about building singular robots, but building a 'robot farm'. The scope now expands to include not only back office processes, but also, for example, customer care processes, using robots as digital assistants for employees and integration with Artificial Intelligence solutions (see diagram below).

The Structure phase makes robots an integral part of the business. An example of this is the implementation of robots in customer care work such as within call centres. Customer care employees typically spend a disproportionately large amount of time to answer questions, as they need to gather information from multiple systems. Usually, there is no single version of the truth available. Replacing or enhancing these processes using the legacy systems requires a significant amount of investment. Through the application of RPA, the investment in time and money is significantly reduced. Robots can easily gather the required information from the various systems without the time-consuming and costly replacement of legacy systems. This makes RPA a valuable asset in the process improvement tool kit: it can be used to improve customer services by increasing speed and accuracy at relatively low cost and over relatively short timeframes.

Robots may also be introduced as digital assistants. Initially, robots will be designed to execute simple, repetitive tasks, such as manually calculating travel costs from websites such as or However, when robots are deployed on a larger scale within the organisation, it becomes increasingly viable to build increasingly complex robots. The advantage of robots is that their fundamental ‘components’ may be reused across different processes, business functions and business units. Leading platforms such as UiPath play a major role facilitating component share, offering both internal and external markets to current and potential clients.Adoption of robotic process automation to increase significantlyFollowing completion of the Structure phase, the ‘Scale’ phase introduces further integration into the business, full integration with IT processes and strengthening the established Centre of Excellence. The framework which was established in Start-up and refined in Structure can now be rolled out to increase the scope and impact of the RPA programme. It is at this stage that an RPA programme can introduce new technologies, including elements of AI such as OCR, machine learning and sentiment analysis, which further enhance the value delivered to the business. In this phase, the full value of RPA can be realised sustainably and over the long term, whilst setting the foundations for future advances in AI.


The rise of robots in the organisation will result in a significant change in the way that organisations are structured. What would it mean if every employee could dedicate 20-30 minutes of their time each day to more value-adding activities? The extra income that would be generated would soon amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds within small and medium enterprises, and perhaps millions more for larger, global organisations. Furthermore, cost reductions and quality improvements resulting from RPA initiatives contribute to even greater benefits. By using RPA, organisations are able to drive their growth forward without being limited by personnel shortages, quality concerns or legacy infrastructure costs.

Taking the step from the ‘start-up’ to the ‘structure’ phase requires more than just process and technical knowledge. When delivering larger-scale implementations, change management plays a significant role. A successful approach employs all three components of process, technology and change.

Related: Knowing where to start an automation journey with RPA Discovery.


Despite industry disruption televised sport still draws audiences

24 April 2019

Despite the disruption wrought on most areas of traditional broadcasting by streaming challengers, sports remains a major draw for audiences of television networks. This is particularly true of viewers who bet money on sporting events, with those that have skin in the game considerably more likely to follow the event on a television screen.

Arguably the true opiate of the masses, for centuries organised sports have been a major draw for hordes of fanatical spectators, from the grand coliseums of Ancient Rome to the more understated greens of local cricket grounds. The advent of television in the 20th century took this to a new level, allowing for widespread visual access to major sporting events, and sowing the seeds of a multi-billion industry in the process. Yet while watching sport remains a key pastime for many, changing consumer preferences and new technologies are affecting the traditional sport distribution channel of TV.

To better understand trends in the sporting broadcast market, Deloitte recently released an article titled ‘Does TV Sports have a Future?’ as part of its wider ‘Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions 2019’ report into telecommunications trends. The conclusions in the piece are based on the firm’s own survey of 1,062 US-based respondents.

More men than women watch sport

Traditional television has in recent years begun to lose out to streaming and on demand services, resulting in a generation that is watching considerably less television. The shift in consumer sentiment has caused traditional TV companies consternation as well as shifts in business models. The average Millennial now watches 42% fewer minutes per week of TV in 2018 than they did in 2010. Yet not all areas of the traditional television market have been as hard hit by the shift, and sport is one of them. This contradicts previous studies which may have suggested that Millennials were abandoning ‘old’ media for their sport viewing.

One reason for this could well be sports betting, which means that many of the people watching the event are keen to see how their punt is faring, in play. According to Deloitte, 78% of male sport viewers, and 64% of their female counterparts would be more likely to tune in to a live event if they had bet on it.

The study found that sport gambling remains a key fixture in the gambling industry as a whole in the UK. In the United Kingdom in 2017, sports betting had £14 billion in turnover. In the four Nordic countries, meanwhile legal gambling of all kinds was an approximate €6 billion industry in 2015. In the US, meanwhile, the industry as a whole is worth around a quarter of a trillion dollars – with sports betting figuring at around 40% of that total. The industry is projected to see growth of 9% over the coming three years.

Betting on sports is associated with watching sports on TV for more than five hours on a typical weekday

However, while the gambling industry does indeed seem to have some impact on television engagement, it would be dangerous to overstate this as a positive, and such a conclusion might also put the cart before the horse. Deloitte’s study found that ‘super-superfans’ – those who watched more than five hours on a typical weekday – were more likely to gamble than average viewers.

Of those who watch more than five hours of sport per day, only 4% do not bet. Of those, 2% do not currently bet, or have never bet, respectively. Again, it could be asserted that these people are engaging with televised sport, and thus keeping the advertising-based industry afloat, due to the betting they participate in. However, it could equally be argued that they are exhibiting compulsive behaviour in spending such a large amount of time viewing sport in the first place – behaviour which would leave them as easy prey for gambling firms, who can now milk them for profit.

But where is all this set to lead? According author Duncan Stewart, the potential profitability of this model means it is likely to be exported from the UK in the coming years.

Steward concluded, “As a thought experiment, one can imagine a 30-year-old American man in the year 2025… watching a football game on the TV set, smartphone in hand. He can bet on the match at any point, modify his wager, buy back a losing wager, bet on the outcome of individual plays or individual stats such as the number of passing yards by the quarterback—all in real time, and all tailored to him. Ads could be served that are customised for him, informed by his betting and attention, and watching would have to be 100% live. The broadcaster or betting site could not only charge more for ads seen by such an involved viewer, but even have a share in (or own outright) the profits from the betting/video stream … at margins much higher than the usual for TV broadcasting. To an American, this sounds like science fiction, but in the United Kingdom, these solutions (or variations of them) are available today.”