Shift-fix vs. fix-shift: With R&CA, the answer is clear


Posted by Peter Lowes and Anthony Abbattista August 17, 2017

Does a process need to be improved before migrating it to a new technology platform or operating model (fix-shift)? Or should the process be moved to the future environment and then fixed (shift-fix)? That choice, long debated in the business process outsourcing (BPO), offshoring, and shared services worlds, is now confronting decision-makers as they deploy robotics and cognitive automation (R&CA).

Drawing parallels between R&CA and BPO/offshoring/shared services is common. They are significant and potentially disruptive changes typically undertaken for cost reduction and efficiency gains. But when it comes to R&CA and shift/fix vs. fix/shift, there really is no real debate – you should fix it first.

Here’s why: You can move a process that has problems into a BPO, offshoring, or shared services environment, and it will likely carry on no more or no less broken than it was before migrating. And, bonus, costs will likely be lower. But R&CA is different: the cost differential between automating a process that’s clean and one that’s broken is real and potentially large.

What constitutes a broken process in the R&CA world? There are two types. The first is if the process is generating erroneous output at a level that’s causing business problems downstream – for example, an IT system pumping out purchase orders with incorrect coding. Someone else will have to deal with the problem at some point if it’s not fixed first.

The other kind of brokenness is when a significant number of exceptions occur relative to the number of transactions or work tasks that are completed cleanly. Exception management requires custom handling. Trying to automate it can create a chronic problem. Every exception has to be codified explicitly to effectively automate the work that’s being done when those exceptions occur.

The bottom line: If you try to apply R&CA to a broken process, you’ll end up with a process that is both broken and automated. It simultaneously becomes both more opaque and more easily scalable, which means you can create a bigger problem faster. Automating a broken process is also expensive. The development and, especially, maintenance costs can outweigh the potential savings.

Is your organization facing a shift-fix/fix-shift decision? I’d like to hear about it.

Know your R&CA objectives


Posted by Peter Lowes and Anthony Abbattista August 10, 2017

Robotics and cognitive automation (R&CA)-driven technologies are already working alongside humans in many settings, replicating their actions and judgment to perform routine tasks at lower cost. I believe R&CA is going to become a dominant business driver in just three short years, so companies should be setting their R&CA strategies now.

Continue reading “Know your R&CA objectives”

The business case for robotics and cognitive automation: The devil’s in the details


Posted by Peter Lowes and Anthony Abbattista on August 3, 2017

Do the numbers add up when it comes to implementing robotics and cognitive automation (R&CA) – technologies that replicate human actions and judgment? They appear to, judging from the growing number of mail order houses, telecom providers, retail banks and others that already have software robots working alongside contact center agents. For those companies, bots are performing many routine tasks, such as validations and cross-referencing, that humans would have to do otherwise.

Continue reading “The business case for robotics and cognitive automation: The devil’s in the details”

Who determines ethics in a machine-run world?

A case for “Society in the loop artificial intelligence”


Posted by Jim Guszcza on May 19, 2017

As automation and robotics fueled by artificial intelligence (AI) become more mainstream, many areas of industry are set to undergo revolutionary changes. New sorts of jobs will likely emerge, some existing jobs will likely undergo transformation, and others may go away. There is good reason for concern about societal disruption, and a pressing need for enlightened societal-level dialogue. But we should not lose sight of the bright side to the creation of machines capable of helping with laborious “spade work.” AI has the potential to create significant value by making us more efficient, extending our intelligence and decision-making capabilities, saving organizations money, and generally helping societies run more smoothly.

Continue reading “Who determines ethics in a machine-run world?”

Can robots replace HR?

Can robots replace HR?
Posted by Michael Gretczko and Rajesh Attra on December 20, 2016.

Automation and artificial intelligence are hot topics these days, to the extent President Obama has recently started to position the future of smarter technologies as a critical topic for his successor to address.1 This transformation has broad impacts, but the changes expected in the HR function and the overall workplace are of significant interest.

Continue reading “Can robots replace HR?”