Man v. machine – and machine wins

ISG made history last week when it staged what is believed to be the first-ever head-to-head administrative processing battle between a robot and a human in front of a live audience. The competition took place here during the inaugural ISG Automation Summit – Europe, hosted by Information Services Group (ISG), a global technology research and advisory firm.

The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software bot – programmed live on stage by ISG Senior Consultant Steve Blundell in front of more than 150 attendees – took on ISG advisor Thomas Saunders in a race to complete a laborious, data-intensive process that involved verifying the VAT numbers of 400 companies.

In a clear demonstration of the power of automation to streamline business processes, the robot completed all 400 checks in just 56 minutes and 7 seconds, by which time its human competitor had only managed to finish 77.

The battle highlights the potential of automation to successfully take on repetitive tasks, thereby freeing up the human workforce to focus on higher value and more creative work, and ultimately make businesses more efficient and productive. This concept was a key theme at this year’s conference, which was opened by Barry Matthews, ISG partner responsible for the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Homan Haghighi, an RPA and automation evangelist at ISG, said: “This first-of-a-kind experiment simply proves the potential of RPA to revolutionize the way we work. Just think about the amount of energy that could be channelled elsewhere within a business by employing RPA to complete these sorts of simple, rules-based processes. As a CIO, leading the RPA agenda within an organization demonstrates long-term vision and supports your digital agenda – it’s a no-brainer!”

Other speakers at the Automation Summit included Oliver Rees, founder of Trustlight, whose session inspired delegates to think differently about innovation and adopt a “start-up” mentality, and futurist Sophie Hackford, who asked big questions about emerging technologies and their implications for the way we live and work.

Among the presentations from leading technology providers, the afternoon featured The Great Automation Westminster Debate, whereby leading RPA vendors went head-to-head on the benefits of their respective platforms. The summit concluded with a presentation by ISG’s Wayne Butterfield who spoke about the strengths and weaknesses of different cognitive solutions, and the need for organizations to develop a holistic automation strategy aligned to business goals.

The ISG Automation Summit was sponsored by Wipro, Automation Anywhere, IPSoft, Blue Prism, Abbyy, Datamatics and Enate. More details about the event can be found at the event website.


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