CATALYST Issue 1 - Page 11

Digital Innovation should be automated by the end of next “For recruiting teams, it will mean they get to do more of year. We take it client by client to make what they are good at; their USP will be more pronounced” sure they’re happy. Does it save money? There’s an initial cost in setting up the infrastructure and working with your IT team to implement it; but there are cost savings and efficiencies, which are part of our business case in driving this forward. However, in terms of the client experience, we’re finding that the biggest change is that sleekness of process end-to-end. How long have you been using this tech? We’ve had our toe dipped in the water for around 18 months. That’s ramped up to a wide-ranging, back- end enterprise project. I’d say we’re an early adopter. I do a lot of talking to clients and consultancies; they have a good view of where this might be useful, but they haven’t done it yet. There’s a lead time of about 12 months to learn how to use it and then you speed up enormously and it becomes a day-to-day thing. The ‘mother and father’ of the robots are myself and Jolanta Gantkowska who heads our Polish office; she’s very interested in how we can use robots to provide consumer-quality services. She drove us to blueprint the technologies, then I worked to pull those together. Could you introduce us to your robot offspring? DORIS was our first robot; she was really good at organising documents and putting them into folders. She worked with 70,000 documents in 48 hours, which would have taken two months with 10 people. ISAAC is an interview- scheduling robot; he sends emails, tries to find dates for when candidates are available and posts details into their diaries. Then there’s RALPH, who tracks the activities of all the people in our shared service centres and reports, in real time, on what they’re doing. We also have STAN, who logs into a number of external systems, downloads reports on a daily basis and consolidates those. HANA is in development: she’s a help-desk and chat robot, able to take requests from people externally and trigger services. We actually have 20 different STANs, so he’s a whole family now and the ISAAC family is growing: we will have one ISAAC per client. There are lots of other robots in development, including an onboarding robot in design. We have a wide range of core processes we’re looking to automate entirely; scheduling is one: we arrange 150,000 interviews a year, so all of that Meanwhile, I’m trying to use ‘contagious implementation’ to make robots part of a team. I envisage sending out a robot to a team that delivers reporting across the whole organisation so they can learn to incorporate it into their day-to-day work. That team will then share their knowledge with other teams. How do you identify tasks to automate? Initially, people pitched in with suggestions. We looked for those that best fit a robot and gave us the biggest opportunity to enhance the experience and provide efficiencies. We started by gut feel and built little business cases for internal investment. Then we started getting better at identifying which robots you can create quickly and achieve the most. We’ve put a governance model around that now. At the beginning, people would say “could you write a robot to do this?” and you’d look at the process and it was really complicated; it would take somebody three months to write a robot programme that saved 10 minutes a day. But there were other processes where someone could write the robot in half-an-hour to do a piece of work that could run in the background and saved somebody three-to-four hours a day, so they could focus on other things. Is this tech a threat to human employees? There’s a war for talent outside in the marketplace; we don’t have enough people to meet our gross needs, and this is how we’re going to fill the gap. When laptops and email were first implemented, everyone immediately thought “we’ll need less people because we’ll be so much more efficient than previously”, but it actually just meant people could do more. Initially we’ll automate back-end processes, and everyone will start to use this sort of thing. Then I think the sidekick – the ‘personal assistant’ Issue 1 - 2017 11