And so, begins my third year here at Blue Prism... When I joined back in 2018: we had just over 200 employees; were headquartered out of a small shared office in the tiny village of Newton Le Willows; and most prominently had no center of excellence.
Fast forward 2 years, the company and the automation market has grown immeasurably. For Blue Prism in that time: we’ve grown to a staff of almost 1,500 people; operate in at least 5 new geographies; acquired Thoughtonomy and subsequently pivoted to a multi-product, cloud based company; gained almost 1,000 new customers; and operate in a global RPA market that has increased in value by 61% -from just shy of $60m in 2018 to a predicted $1.2bn by the end of 2025. We’re onto something good here.
My, not so little team, is also delivering great results – this month we go live with our 52nd process and will generate our 33,000th license key for customers. On average, we deliver 500 hours back to the business each month (not bad for a company where processes are born daily) and have a healthy backlog of almost 100 opportunities ripe for automation.
In addition to this we continue to grow our ‘digital worker champion’ role, with our 7th due to join in August. This a federated role, which sees individuals from each department trained in Blue Prism and tasked to automate for their area. It’s been a huge boon in helping educate, and evangelize the use of automation across the company and very well supported and staffed. A marked change to 2 years back.
So, what have a I learnt? Both professionally and personally, the learning lists are long.
I’ve learnt both professionally and personally, that automation is not something to be feared as it can offer profound benefits to any organization by releasing crucial time back to their biggest asset… their people.
I’ve learnt how automation can lead to greater job satisfaction (who ever dreamt of manual, repetitive data entry back at school?) and lead to amazing careers in jobs, that 5 years ago didn’t even exist.
I’ve learnt how automation needs to be seen for what it is, a transformational change programme, and treated as such; side of desk automation efforts simply cannot scale to enterprise levels of returns and advocacy. I’ve learnt that frequent communication with the business eases the anxiety around automation, combined with senior buy in and internal evangelization/championing early on allows any internal RPA team to set up for success.
I’ve learnt how important having an internal centralized automation team to educate, evangelize and showcase automation across the business is. Without a team to define the companies automation agenda, manage pipeline, set design standards and ensure quality and consistency – automation gets a bad rep and can fail.
I’ve learnt that truly (myself being a prime example here) you don’t need to know how to code or be an IT whizz to ‘get’ automation. My entire team, bar 2 who studied automation as a part of their course, had no prior experience and learnt on the job. With the right support, tools and training – Blue Prism is accessible to anyone who wants it.
I’ve learnt the power of branding and communicating. Late last year my team and I introduced Albert, Beatrice, Charles and Diana to the world – our digital worker colleagues immortalized in cartoon form; we celebrate their birthdays, have them post weekly on our internal social channels and they even feature in our companies diversity and inclusion posters. Make the change less scary; make it fun and people will embrace it and adopt it. Automation and RPA is no exception to that.
I’ve learnt, when it comes to automation anxiety, how crucially important it is to educate and upskill the next generation of workers to be ready for the jobs of tomorrow. With the lines between human and digital workers becoming ever blurred (seeya ‘HR’, hello ‘R’) Companies innovating and creating new markets like Blue Prism, are absolutely required to lead the way in helping people from non-traditional tech backgrounds overcome the barriers to jobs (both physical and societal).
Working in a fast-growing tech company and indeed in a pioneering industry like intelligent automation I’ve learnt more than I ever imagined about myself. particularly my resilience where I’ve had to learn a new level of agility, pragmatism and an unapologetic determination to get things done; and how to lead, guide and support my team and colleagues to success in the process.
I came to Blue Prism – fresh out of consulting and eager to make an impact; within 6 months of joining I’d hired 2 people into my team (now 9), defined our delivery methodology, built a pipeline of automation opportunities and begun the slow process of winning the hearts and minds of my new colleagues and managers, to invest in our own product more and less in the quick and easy solution of buying software or OTS products to solve our issues.
I learnt that automation also has an incredible power to do good, which led me to set up ‘Blue Prism For Good’ – our Corporate Social Responsibility program – which in 2019 raised £200k for 9 global charities. Since then I’ve been working hard to formalize BPFG and mature what it means to Blue Prism and our customers.
Today ‘Blue Prism For Good’ stands for one thing – to educate and inspire the future generations of workers; united by the vision to unleash human potential and inspire the future of work. They key here being to provide today’s youngsters with the skills to do tomorrow’s jobs. To that end we’re key sponsors of the EY Foundation progamme, which gives paid work experience to under privileged children in the UK. We are proud partners of Mencap, the largest learning disability charity in the UK–, having supported them in the setup and training of their own automation team. Finally, we are about to embark on automation projects with charities in India, the US and Australia.
My key takeaway from all of this is one of pride, but also awe at the power of collective ambition of my colleagues and peers – who are not only passionate about our product, but crucially using it for good. I’m excited, intrigued and almost scared at where the CoE team will be in the next 2 years - but I have no doubt that if momentum continues as it has, we’re going to be doing some pretty amazing things.#COE
What's the biggest learning been on your automation journey? Comment below!