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Partnership aims to speed up adoption of RPA

15/11/17

Cabinet Office official says initiative with Capgemini is aiming to take up to two years off government’s take-up time for the technology

The Cabinet Office is aiming to accelerate the take-up of robotics process automation (RPA) in government by one to two years, emphasising the role of the new Centre of Excellence for the technology, one of the leading officials in the effort has said.

Chris HallChris Hall (pictured), deputy chief commercial officer in the department, was speaking at UKAuthority’s Rise of the Bots event in London yesterday. He was outlining the progress since the Cabinet Office chose technology consultancy Capgemini as its partner in the initiative.

“Our challenge is to speed up government’s technology adoption cycle,” he said, adding: “Typically government is on the down cycle of the technology adoption curve, and we reckon that left to its own devices within three to five years robotics will be commonplace in government.

“My challenge is to bring that forward by one or two years, because we want to bring forward the benefits curve.”

He said next week’s Budget would not provide for a massive investment in AI and there will be a need to generate funds from somewhere to support the work. However, the Centre of Excellence set up under the partnership with Capgemini, and which was launched in early September, is beginning to support the community interested in RPA.

Education and estimates

It has three main functions: to spread education of what the technology can do in public services; to work with the larger departments to look for opportunities to apply RPA to specific processes; and to estimate how long it will take to automate the processes and to provide the benefits.

The partnership has also created a Development Service to build RPA solutions for central government departments.

Hall said he was sceptical over predictions that this will replace large numbers of Civil Service jobs over the coming years, but said the technology could be a key enabler for the public sector.

“We have a lot of opportunities across government, not just in the back office; we also do a large amount of case management work,” he said. “And we’ve still got this massive backlog of legacy systems that won’t go away soon, and if we can find a quick and easy way of improving the way they are used then RPA is a good candidate.”

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