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Does RPA actually work?

Before we’re inundated with replies that just say “yes”, we should clarify where the question in the headline comes from: a report from Business Today quotes the chief executive of BPO specialist ExlService Holdings Inc as stating that 30-50% of robotics implementations in his field fail.

Say what?

The principle the exec cites is that the complexity of the process isn’t always fully understood; it takes one human manager to oversee every ten robots, he says.

This may or may not be the case, we have no data (nor any reason to doubt the assertion, particularly). What’s certain is that robotics is becoming more important in the field as repetitive processes become increasingly easy to duplicate through automation.

The pronouncement was off the back of positive financial results for ExlService, so it’s likely to have a basis in reality for the moment. And in spite of the hype so far there’s a good argument to suggest we’re still at ‘draft 1’ of the fourth industrial revolution, in which automation and later AI is going to play such a dominant role. How it pans out eventually has yet to be determined; we can be pretty certain, though, that a 50-70% success rate isn’t going to satisfy the industry for long.

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