Archive for the ‘outsourcing’ Category

The Second Machine Age

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Being the type of person who hates missing an opportunity to repurpose something, here is an article I wrote for the Blue Prism Blog reviewing The Second Machine Age by Andrew McAfee and Eric Brynjolfsson. In short: I highly recommend that you read this book.

Most people would rather stick needles in their eyes than read a book on economics—an academic subject based largely on opinion rather than science, and which relies on history as its most unpredictable guiding light. In short, a boring area.

And yet, in The Second Machine Age, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, two economists from MIT, tackle some of the most fundamental issues of our times and at least sometimes succeed in making it interesting, even exciting.

Yes, parts of the book had me glazing over. The macroeconomic middle section belabors points about GDP, income spread and considering whether Keynes’ theory of Technological Unemployment carries any merit, to a depth not justified by the conclusions. I would also allege that the book is too US centric, given the authors’ arguments that globalization itself is one of the challenges.

But, if you’ve read McAfee and Brynjolfsson’s previous book, Race Against the Machine, you will be pleased to learn that they expand upon some of the technological themes from that treatise—from the Google Car to Robotics, and Moravec’s insightful paradox that the things that humans find easiest to do are the ones that computers find most difficult.

McAfee and Brynjolfsson also discuss the outside chance that almost everybody’s job will be automatable at some point in the future. It is conceivable that science fiction writers haven’t yet tapped the outer reaches of real technological possibility into their ageing typewriters.

With automation in this second machine age, driven by digitization computerization and the Internet raging ahead at unprecedented levels of progress, what is the human response to this brave new world? Part macroeconomic study, part personal indulgence, part political thesis (with no loyalty to any particular party), The Second Machine Age combines anecdotal evidence and academic research to bring to life the challenges and some possible solutions—along with key questions about the future that we must think critically about. How do we govern our countries, tax regimes and political incentives? And if the new wave of automation delivers new wealth, how can it be distributed fairly?

I encourage you to wade through the difficult sections. This is really fundamental stuff worth discussing with peers and your kids. And it might just turn you into an economics enthusiast… or a politician.

Gamification goes out of fashion

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Some great stuff coming out of BPO Analyst, HfS Research lately. This blog post from Charles Sutherland, for example, points to BPO research that has concluded that gamification is no longer seen as a strategic way of improving BPO performance, whereas automation, and particularly clerical process automation is seen as having much greater potential.

BPO trends for 2014

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

It is the end of the year and everyone loves to get the crystal ball out. I’ve just been alerted to predictions made by TX based BPO, Datamark.

1. Pioneers and new entrants gain traction in the robotic process automation/autonomics space

Seems a sensible bet, says I (as you might expect)…

Is robotic automation the antidote to BPO “zombieism”?

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Interesting article over at Diginomica positing that software robotics is a “one to watch” technology for the BPO sector. Quoting extensively from HfS Research, Den Howlett questions how fast such technologies will be adopted in the industry.

Blue Prism announced Gartner Cool Vendor

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Leading technology analyst, Gartner, has announced its 2013 Cool Vendor list and Blue Prism has been identified within the Business Process Services category.

Read the analysis by Cathy Tornbohm on the Gartner website for more details.

Welcome to Robotistan, have a nice day!

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Blue Prism is participating in a webinar from leading sourcing analyst, Horses for Sources. We would be delighted if you could join us Thursday 25th April at 15.30pm UK time for “A Tour of Robotistan”. The registration link is as follows:


  • Definition of Robotic Automation (RA)
  • Business processes best suited to RA
  • How RA enables business process analysts to do software development
  • Enterprise end-user case study: Telefónica
  • BPO services provider case study: GenFour
  • How RA can help BPO providers win new business and improve retention
  • How RA shifts BPO providers’ focus from labor arbitrage to innovation
  • Robotic Automation demo
  • Audience Q & A
  • Company culture is the threat, not robots…

    Friday, March 8th, 2013

    Interesting piece from NS Ramnath in which he argues that, despite early warnings, large corporates can get complacent about innovation, allowing new ideas like software robotics to threaten their established business model.

    You can read the article on the Forbes India website.

    Robots will not take over the world

    Monday, February 18th, 2013

    There is a strong argument that globally, automation increases wealth and creates jobs. Even those that refute this, surely have to admit that automation can reduce offshoring and create jobs in the UK and US. In the case of services industries, this means the BPO sector, and specifically the part of the BPO market that has used “labour arbitrage” to move work to lower wage destinations such as India and The Philippines, for example.

    The impact of automation, and particularly robotics is raging around the world at the moment. In addition to coverage in the NYT and The Economist, British Computer Weekly is also joining the debate with this – Will software robots really decrease offshoring and increase UK jobs?

    IT – this is how your business colleagues think

    Monday, February 11th, 2013

    The history of this blog is littered with commentary trying to analyse why Business Operations come from Venus and IT comes from Mars.

    If you work in IT, take a quick read of this article, published by an outsourcing analyst (Horses for Sources). Although intended to be aimed at the geeks and suppliers of the sourcing industry, it is also a lesson to internal IT colleagues in how Business Ops thinks, and why IT should focus on using technology to achieve business outcomes, not try to sell the technologies themselves.

    You can find the article here: Sourcing no-no’s for 2013.

    Robotic Automation: Can service industries learn from manufacturing?

    Friday, February 1st, 2013

    I gave a speech at Intellect‘s Automate Britain launch on 30 Jan. Here is the transcript.

    Intellect Automate Britain Campaign

    My name is Alastair Bathgate. I come from a process improvement background. This is me in 1985; in charge of Time and Motion at an NGA and SOGAT82 unionised print factory. (If you want to learn about labour relations in the context of industry automation, take a TARDIS back to the post Eddy Shah 1980s printing industry.)

    Having spent so much time stressing over minute improvements in manufacturing, a career move to a bank drew a stark contrast in the apparently relaxed attitude to process efficiency and product quality. I remember an article in the internal staff magazine where a team leader was trumpeting the significant increase in productivity created by the installation of a brand new mainframe terminal, the cost justification for which had taken several accountancy man years and the IT lead time approximately 6 months. The year? 1988. It was the second ever piece of end user computer equipment installed in the 200 FTE savings administration department at Bradford & Bingley. I worked in a fledgling O & M department.

    Today, I am CEO of Blue Prism, a British software company pioneering software robotics for the back office. I founded Blue Prism to address the frustration operational managers have in making simple process improvements and the observation that the only way to address the problems was to employ staff…somewhere in the world.

    I thought it would be good to start with a little history of robots in manufacturing.