Archive for the ‘robots’ Category

Robotic Automation – what’s the CIO agenda?

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

More follow up from the Horses for Sources blog post that has been picked up by CIO Magazine.

It’s another interesting take, but I wonder if there is room for more CIO reaction? And what’s in it for the IT function at all levels? There are real technical and strategic advantages from extending the value of your already stretched resources by delegating and empowering business ops to self serve solutions against a controlled set of challenges.

Rise of the machine

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Flak flying from the Horses for Sources article about Robotistan (see my previous post) has now reached the UK offices of Computer Weekly. Karl Flinders, on his Inside Outsourcing blog points out that “Automation software is providing businesses with a real alternative to cheap offshore labour” especially if the software enables business users rather than major IT programs to design and build the automation.

The next BPO offshore destination? Robotistan…

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Analyst firm, Horses for Sources, who are driving most of the adventurous thought leadership in the global outsourcing industry, have taken a look at Blue Prism and made their views public on their lively and provocative blog.

In a humourous post, James Slaby argues that robots will drive down processing costs for BPOs and reduce the need to offshore for cost saving reasons. If you get the automation strategy right the economics are “jaw-dropping”.

“Outsourcing has always been about people, process and technology. Scratch that. It’s about process and technology, with people an optional extra…..” – Read the rest of the blog post here.

Robotic automation – from factory to back office

Monday, October 15th, 2012

My marketing director, a keen petrol head, sent me this YouTube link showing how robotic automation works in a BMW factory. It bought to mind the seminal Fiat Strada advertisement from 1979 – thirty three (yes, 33) years ago. As an aside, I always wondered what the association was between an Italian car and the Barber of Seville. Never mind. Equally, never mind that the cars fell apart frequently, or that the production team turned up to film, only to find striking workers blockading the factory. These were pioneering days of the robotic car plant.

Whilst the British automotive industry went bust, was nationalised, privatised, and sold to Japanese and Germans for 2’6″, other parts of the world took the concept of robotics and improved it so that cars were cheaper and faster to design and build, more reliable, more flexible (I’ll spare you a long spiel about mass customisation) and more appealing to consumers.

What is interesting from the BMW clip is that robots can’t do everything. Work is constantly handed off to real people before returning the automated line. Another thing that grabbed my attention was the detailed process design that maximises the robots’ effectiveness by preparing the work for them. For example, somebody had to design the car build process in such a way that all the painted bits hang together so the robots can spray without having to use masking tape etc.

I think this is something that the clerical back office is only just starting to learn about. But the economic case is bound to be just as compelling.