This idea isn’t as far fetched as you may think. And robotic process automation (RPA) and cognitive computing are the capabilities that are enabling the federal government to lead this charge.
For those of you in doubt, look no further than KPMG’s June 6 Government Intelligent Automation Forum as evidence of the direction our federal agencies are taking. Discussions throughout the event focused on how a digital workforce can help improve the federal government’s workplace, while also retaining skilled labor in the midst of aggressive private sector hiring.
The animated and frank discussions around these topics reinforced my belief that augmenting the human labor force with automation offers federal agencies an unparalleled opportunity to leap frog private sector enterprises in their ability to transform their processes and operations, and meet mandates with reduced resources.
Why is this?
For upwards of two decades, the U.S. private sector has been leveraging offshoring – both to third-party service providers and in their own captive operations – to achieve economies of scale, reduced expenses, and labor and process efficiencies. In many respects, those enterprises no longer control their offshored processes.
And due to multiple drivers, including the erosion of the labor arbitrage benefits of offshoring, the uncertainty of visa reform legislation, and the rise of back-office automation capabilities, the private sector organizations must now go through the painful process of renegotiating or restructuring their offshore outsourcing relationships.
As federal agencies were precluded from offshoring, they can embrace a digital workforce and all its associated cost and process efficiencies from the get-go, with a clean slate. Indeed, what may have been perceived as a hindrance is now an advantage.
During the “Lessons Learned from Early Adopters” session, Paul Bartley, Becton Dickinson’s Director of Global Shared Services, drew upon his previous experiences as former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Program Support, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide specific examples of how he foresees RPA driving efficiencies and improved service levels across the federal government’s agencies. Although he didn’t specifically cite the offshoring issue as the driver of Becton Dickinson’s uptake of RPA (full disclosure, Becton Dickinson is an Automation Anywhere client), he was passionate about the advantages the company has realized using RPA to automate core processes across its shared services infrastructure worldwide.