Copyright 2016, Forbesindia.com

Automation is at the top of every corporate agenda: Ankur Kothari

The co-founder of Automation Anywhere says that a professional skilled in robotic process automation (RPA) can earn up to a 30-percent higher salary


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Ankur Kothari, co-founder and chief revenue officer, Automation Anywhere

California-based company Automation Anywhere helps businesses adopt Robotic Process Automation (RPA), or use software to automate manual business operations. This is an increasingly sophisticated technology that Indian businesses are rapidly adopting, wrote Ankur Kothari, co-founder and chief revenue officer, in an email interview with Forbes India. Edited excerpts:

Q. What is Automation Anywhere’s approach to RPA?
Automation Anywhere brings together RPA with cognitive capabilities and smart analytics to automate nearly any business process. Using Automation Anywhere’s platform, companies can create and deploy software bots in days. These bots are simple and require little input from developers. Organisations might rely on developers to create more complex bots.

Q. When did Automation Anywhere first invest in RPA capabilities?
Automation Anywhere was established in 2003. We began creating bots that could work not unlike a human worker, interact with business systems, move data from one system to another, and make rule-based algorithmic decisions.

I remember that Sunday night in 2003 when we built our first software bot and made it available for users to download. We were expecting the first customer download to take a week or two, but found the first customer from Australia implemented it within a couple of hours. That was a pivotal moment. And there was no looking back. We worked tirelessly to sign our first customers as we continued to improve bot capabilities.

We work very closely with our now-vast partner ecosystem, and the real momentum began to build after the initial five years, especially after the 2008 financial meltdown. The pivotal year was 2013, when we saw dramatic increase in the demand for RPA across the globe, as companies began what we call their digital transformation journey.

Q. In which verticals is there a strong demand for RPA?
Traditionally, the banking industry drives the fastest adoption of newer technology globally, and this is true for RPA adoption too. We are also witnessing strong traction in sectors including insurance, manufacturing, telecommunication, technology and healthcare.

Today, companies have a clear mandate to automate as much as they can to provide better customer experience, improve compliance and increase productivity to boost competitive advantage. RPA has become a business-critical tool for functions such as HR, finance, administration, sales and procurement.

Q. What new job roles is RPA creating that didn’t exist before?
Software robots can take care of rules-based, repetitive and predictable tasks without human intervention. Bots help liberate humans to do what they do best—using their intellect, talent and creativity. RPA is creating job roles such as: Executive sponsor, business head of the program, coe head, RPA program manager, bot solution architects, bot process analysts, control room administrator and so on.

Q. What is the gap between demand and availability of talent in the area of RPA? How are you trying to bridge this gap?
According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute [in December 2017], automation will drive 75 to 375 million people to re-skill or change occupations by 2030. Companies will always need people with specialised expertise that can interact with humans and manage bots. However, there is a strong demand for employees skilled in RPA for automation management, analytics, AI, cloud services and cyber security.

The average salary of a professional skilled in RPA is 30 percent higher than salaries for general programmers and software engineers.

Automation Anywhere offers the Automation Anywhere University, a learning centre where professionals can re-skill for a world evolving because of RPA. Since its launch, AAU has trained more than 1,00,000 people across 140 countries, through more than 20 courses. The website receives more than 1,300 visitors each day, and over 8,000 new registrations each month.

Automation Anywhere has a team of certified in-house and external trainers as well as 26 global training partners. In addition, AAU has reached 200+ educational institutions and 3,00,000 students over the past year, and created an outline of three RPA credit courses for management and engineering college students.

Automation Anywhere has signed an agreement to set-up Bot Labs at educational institutions to ensure students are ‘future ready’ with RPA skills. So far, the Automation Anywhere University has trained people from the world’s top universities such as Harvard University, Indian Institutes of Management, National University of Singapore and so on.

Q. What will RPA look like in two years? What kind of preparations are you making for that future?
We have experienced the inflection point already, and exponential growth for the last several years—it is becoming mainstream now. Every company in every country and industry has made the adoption of RPA one of its top initiatives.

Here’s why: If your objective is to become a more digital enterprise to stay ahead of being disrupted by a major paradigm shift, you must adopt RPA. Unless your business is a digital native like Google or Uber, you have no choice. The advantage of RPA is that you experience an almost immediate ROI in weeks or months—not years. Automation is at the top of every corporate agenda.