As part of The London School of Economics and Political Science, Outsourcing Unit series of research papers on Business Services Automation, Professor Mary Lacity, Professor Leslie Willcocks, and Senior Research Fellow, Andrew Craig examine “Robotic Process Automation: Mature Capabilities in The Energy Sector.” This segment presents a compelling case study of a major European utility that deploys 300 “robots” to automate about 20-25% of back office work associated with meter management, customer billing, account management, consumption management, segmentation and exception processing.
While much has been said about the impact of automation leaving very little work for humans to do other than “lawn mowing and hair dressing,” the team draws a very different conclusion regarding their prediction of the future of automation based on this case study and other customer, provider and advisor input. They expect that in the next five years, workgroups will consist of human and robotic FTEs who will be assigned those jobs that are best suited for their respective abilities. Humans will come to rely on robots to help them quickly and intelligently solve problems. The paper notes, “In the future, an agent on the phone with a customer might immediately ask a robot to mine a vast amount of data to help complete a customer call within seconds. Imagine when a human worker in the middle of a task could just demand a robot when needed, a Robot-On-Demand.”