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ISG Study Reveals What It Takes to Become a High-Performing Bot 3.0 Company

  • Only 7% currently achieve that level of performance, ISG says
  • Bot 3.0 companies, building their own digital workforces, are moving faster than providers

A new study from Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq : III), a leading global technology research and advisory firm, reveals the struggles companies face when trying to scale automation initiatives across the enterprise, and what they need to do to become high-performing “Bot 3.0” companies.

The ISG Insights™ study “Is Your RPA Program ‘Bot 3.0’ Ready?” finds that many organizations have hit the “RPA wall” and are struggling to get beyond automating 10 to 20 processes.

“We see intense interest in robotic process automation (RPA) from enterprises looking to reduce costs, improve productivity and increase speed – all areas critical to competing in an increasingly digital economy,” said Stanton Jones, principal analyst, ISG Research, and author of the study. “The great news is that it’s easy to get started with RPA. Building a few bots to automate repetitive processes is not a major hurdle for organizations. What’s difficult is scaling automation across an enterprise.”

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The ISG study combines results from a global survey of 321 business and technology executives, a live “swarm” session with 40 executives measuring group consensus on the future of automation, insights from ISG advisors, and forecasts from enterprise automation leaders to provide a 360-degree view of the current and future state of business automation.

ISG found the majority of organizations are only at the beginning stages of deploying RPA. ISG’s maturity curve shows 18 percent are at Bot 0.0 (conducting a proof of concept or pilot) and 58 percent are at Bot 1.0 (some processes automated, with a center of excellence launched). Only 7 percent have reached ISG’s highest level of maturity, Bot 3.0, having expanded RPA to multiple functions across the enterprise and using cognitive technology along with their RPA.

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Bot 3.0 companies, the study finds, are:

  • Extending RPA beyond finance and IT, the typical starting points for automation, to other functions such as customer service and sales and marketing;
  • Focusing more on productivity gains and efficiency (“returning hours to the business”) than cost reduction;
  • Standardizing and re-engineering processes before automating them; and
  • Establishing centers of excellence before launching their first bot, a key factor in their ability to scale automation across the enterprise.

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Bot 3.0 companies also report they are adopting RPA faster than their service providers; 59 percent say their providers aren’t incorporating RPA into their services fast enough.

The ISG study also examined automation adoption by industry. Executives in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector – the earliest and most pervasive industry adopter of automation – say they will run out of processes to automate with basic RPA within two years, whereas retailers see no end in sight to their automation opportunities.

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Other key findings include:

  • More than a quarter of companies will make automation a board-level priority in 2019;
  • Most organizations began piloting RPA 18 to 24 months ago and deployed their first bot three to six months after the pilot;
  • More than 80 percent of organizations use one or two RPA vendors; 5 percent use five or more;
  • Productivity and speed are the primary metrics by which automation ROI is determined;
  • Organizations are realizing more compelling automation results related to productivity, data accuracy and customer experience than to cost savings, compliance and employee satisfaction;
  • Organizational resistance to change will be the greatest challenge to automation over the next three years;
  • Governance is the hardest thing to get right, with a lack of technical capability, especially in cognitive and AI, also challenging respondents – even Bot 3.0 companies.

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“Three factors differentiate Bot 3.0 companies from Bot 2.0 companies: a focus on business value realization, the dedication of RPA roles and a strong understanding of cognitive technologies and their application,” said Mark Davison, global partner, ISG Robotic Process and Cognitive Automation.

“Bot 3.0 companies, with their strong process-orientation, know what to automate. They have a common understanding of how automation is best achieved, and they leverage best practices to build and support bots through a center of excellence. They have a strong governance framework to get the most out of their RPA investment, and a clear picture of where they are going tomorrow, with a well-defined automation roadmap,” Davison said.

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