Tech Leaders Summit: How to start your RPA and AI journey

During a lively panel discussion at Tech Leaders Summit, business leaders, who’ve embarked on RPA and AI projects of their own, as well as leading analysts, discussed how best to get started with automation.

According to Andrew Burgess, strategic adviser on AI and RPA, AJBurgess Ltd., success starts with having the right strategy in place.

For him, a good RPA and AI strategy begins with an understanding of your business objectives and challenges.

“Once you get to that point, it’s about understanding the ambition of the organisation.

“AI and RPA can be transformational. An organisation needs to figure out if it just wants to improve processes or change the very fabric of its operations.”

Learn by doing

Speaking for himself, Ricky Delandro, head of business innovation at HSBC Corporate Banking, said while a holistic approach is beneficial, his firm got a lot out of learning-by-doing.

“A lot of people will be offended by this, but one of the things we’ve done in the past is automated bad processes.”

Of course, there is method in his madness.

“There’s always going to be issues and bottlenecks in processes, but engineers, once alerted, are able to figure out how they can make things better.

“What we’ve found is that if in the first instance you can just get things done more quickly and relieve the pain points as you encounter them, you’ll find they’ll uncover hidden problems further down the line — it’s a case of little-by-little.”

Burnett: Look beyond RPA hype

Despite talk that RPA is overhyped, Sarah Burnett, a guru on automation technologies, says that it can cut process costs by 30%, but there is another benefit, not so obvious, and it lies with creating data we can trust

Improving processes

One of the big challenges and benefits of implementing automation for Jonathan Cosgrove, associate director, programme manager & advisory to VP/CAO HR, IT & corporate services, EBRD, has been around process optimisation.

“Before we embarked on these initiatives, a lot of our processes were in people’s heads,” he said. “Our RPA journey has been an opportunity for us to understand them and improve them.

“We’re now optimising processes, making our user manuals and policies which in turn are going to help future automation initiatives succeed.”

Ditching legacy systems

Richard Tang, Founder and Chairman, Zen Internet, asked the panellist to consider what RPA means for legacy systems.

“So many organisations have a lot of different systems, and RPA provides a way of living systems together. But the more glue that you put in place, the more difficult it will be to actually reinvent those legacy systems to the integrated systems that you want and need.”

Without a clear path, enterprises can fall into the trap of automating for the sake of automating, without taking practical and technical objectives into consideration.

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future