The amazing advances of our robotic process automation journey
September 22, 2020
Most every organization today faces the delicate balancing act of enabling the business with more information technology capabilities while also keeping IT operations costs as efficient as possible. If not, IT organizations become overwhelmed and costs can spiral out of control.
I can tell you that at Accenture, a $43.2 billion global business with more than half a million employees, the task for our global IT organization to operate more than 900 applications is enormous. Given that, we are always looking for ways to do things better, faster and more cost-effectively.
A few years ago, when automation tools and technologies were just emerging, our global IT organization began to use these solutions or we developed our own. The early efforts were informal, but the results were promising. We were automating standard and repetitive tasks and eliminating manual efforts. We recognized the opportunity was huge for our more than 200 global IT operations teams handling operations.
These teams support a growing range of new enterprise services along with many other demands. Business users are also asking for more technology services and faster. The global IT operations teams were swimming against the tide in responding to business needs with the manual work, repetitive tasks and in some cases, inefficient processes.
Recognizing the opportunity automation held, we decided to formalize our efforts in automating our IT operations further. We established an IT-wide intelligent automation program to transform Accenture’s global IT operations activities.
Our Intelligent Automation program team, as we call it, established an Automation Center of Excellence to focus and super-charge our efforts. It includes automation architects, machine learning developers, bot designers, robotic process automation (RPA) experts, data scientists, DevSecOps specialists and others. They are tasked to develop tools and solutions for the global IT operations teams managing Accenture’s applications. Teams are developing extensive automation capabilities and solutions including robotic process automation, machine learning, applied intelligence and more.
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Automation with robots is a powerful option for business process with high volumes, round-the-clock usage, and structured and unstructured data going across several applications.
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We are doing more with robotic process automation as it is a fairly mature stage of automation capability. Automation with robots is a powerful option for business processes with high volumes, round-the-clock usage, and structured and unstructured data going across several applications.
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Our RPA team works with teams from Accenture’s business functions to assess and select processes that are suitable for RPA. They have developed bots for various business processes such as service operations, invoicing, tax processing, proposal legal reviews, sales quotes, identity & access management, and timesheet & reconciliation.
We now have more than 70 bots in production, and they are operating at a 98 percent success rate. The bots are making a tremendous business impact by accelerating end-to-end processing. They are also reducing errors and improving consistency. And, they are generating operational savings.
Robotic and other automation solutions deployed are allowing our global IT operations people to focus on the best use of their skills rather than on repetitive tasks. To cultivate an automation-first mindset, our teams took up reskilling, retooling and empowering of our workforce across all internal business operational areas.
This learning is part of a trend Accenture calls Human + Machine and that the Intelligent Automation team is embracing. The trend is about humans and smart machines collaborating ever-more closely, and in the case of this program, augmenting humans in IT operations to efficiently execute tasks. Human-centric, change-management programs helped to ensure disruption was a means to grow new and specialized skills.
Our RPA programs continue to expand as Accenture’s business grows and platform solutions mature. The RPA team is also looking to combine hyper-automation technologies with optimized operational processes even more. To learn more about what we are doing with RPA, read our case study.