When we think of robots, we tend to think of those machines that disrupted the automotive industry. But the last couple of days, I've noticed a steady stream of content that focuses on robotics as it might impact services organizations.
Over the weekend for example, Graham Robinson demonstrated a robot powered by SAP HANA. This was for DemoJam, an ideas show that gives participants six minutes in which to demonstrate innovation with SAP technology. Many of the demos are fun things and amply demonstrate the 'because we can' thinking that many coders bring to the table. This year, the demo was for SAP Inside Track in Melbourne Australia, an event I have attended the last couple of years but which I must miss in 2014. Watch the video above. It's amazeballs.
Yesterday I saw a piece from Phil Fersht, CEO HfS discussing a partnership between HfS and Blue Prism. We would not normally cover this type of event but we're making an exception since the story is compelling in its own right. Discussing its research and analysis of the impact of robotics in outsourcing:
...the firm’s research leadership started to realize its own research processes could potentially benefit from RPA and approached Blue Prism to prototype a beta-robot to produce the first ever automated analyst report.
How does this work in the real world? Per Phil Fersht, CEO:
“We have been blown away by the results – we programmed the robot to trawl vendor websites and create complex algorithms based on their usage of technical terminology. Essentially, the more they used terms such as ‘Big Data’, ‘Transformation’, ‘Digital Solutions’, ‘Social Media’ and ‘Cloud’, the further the robot moved their position over to the right of the quadrant. Then we created an API to our accounting system, and based on how much the vendor was spending in proportional to its competitors, the robot proceeded either to raise the vendor performance towards the upper-right corner, or lower it in the direction of the lower-left. Then we checked the results with the same quadrant being run by one of our human analysts and the results were a 97% match.”
What about the Blue Prism experience?
Blue Prism’s CEO Alastair Floodgate personally sat in on a recent briefing between Clive and a local provider of technology services. ”I was amazed at how well the briefing went – we’d pre-programmed Clive with phrases such as ‘you are simply wonderful – clients will be thrilled by your outcomes, mate’ and ‘its so refreshing to hear an original value proposition that genuinely differentiates you from your competitors.’
Automated PR?Finally, Tom Foremski has been asking whether PR can be automated. He says:
The successful new media model is a combination of three components: professional media, user generated media, and smart machine media (e.g., automated news aggregation)...
...Public relations has been pulled into the modern world (complaining about the extra work of social) but not much has really changed. It’s still very much a hand-crafted, artisanal business, its use of technology is a Twitter hashtag and a dashboard of likes and shares.
But without a significant tech component PR is at a big disadvantage because it can’t scale, it can’t grow without growing more people. Which is also why valuations of PR firms are low compared to their revenues.
Andy Smith picks up on this vibe, adding to the conversation with perspectives from the Economist and Prospect Magazine. He argues that in a media world that already leverages automated production methods, PR may be at a disadvantage:
The idea that the creative and social factors of PR could be its [PRs] saviour is nice - but Tom Foremski isn't entirely off the mark when he says that much of traditional PR work is very vulnerable to automation.
I'm not sure Smith is entirely right. One of the key tasks of PR is to facilitate complex meeting schedules for hard pressed media people. This is often akin to a cat herding experience that is extraordinarily difficult to finagle. This is especially true when execs decide there's something more important to do - like meet with customers. Or where media people insist that all meetings occur at the nearest bar. I've seen both wreak PR havoc, reducing otherwise sane people to a blubbering mess.
But then I'm really describing a concierge service which is probably better in the hands of someone who handles process well rather than someone who pretends to be creative.
Robots seem to have crept up on us unexpectedly.
Robbo's demo could redefine HANA driven dance culture while I expect great invention from the HfS buzzword bingo generator. Finally, if PR gets automated in the way Foremski suggest then I for one will be more than happy. At least I will likely not be circling back to someone who is gauging my interest on something I don't care about anyway.